For years, the self-help space has grown and become more diverse. Entire sections at bookstores, categories online for books and videos, online courses, and more have all become so readily available. There are many reasons why so many people are drawn to self-help. Any attempts to heal, learn, grow, and evolve are going to have a positive impact but the speculation is about how effective self-help is overall. Intellectualizing and understanding is not the same as healing.
Time and money are common responses as to why bypass formal therapies and interacting with an experienced therapist. Many therapists now offer virtual options whether you live far away or not, it is all about preference. Coping mechanisms to anxiety, depressing, and more is to shop, go out to eat, spend money on alcohol, cigarettes, and much more. So being completely honest with yourself, time and money can be prioritized and accommodated to see a therapist to guide you.
Another response that is most popular is self-help is private and non-judgmental. There is still a stigma on asking for help in general, let alone therapy, and society has made it even harder. This is even harder for the majority of the male population and certain cultures and religions. Good therapists hold a safe space for everyone who sits in their office, physically and virtually, because it is their job to interpret and identify patterns and connections to guide you on your healing journey.
Control is a prominent challenge in today’s world which is a trauma response so the thought of releasing control to a therapist is overwhelming. Feeling empowered to make your own healing plan, decide what direction to take, and what to work on is appealing. However, you are in this place of your life for a reason and your subconscious fights hard to protect you. A good therapist sets expectations up front that their role is to be a guide on your healing journey and that the responsibility and work is the client’s role. A therapist or some other qualified person can pull forward what needs to be healed, apply tools, and assign appropriate homework.
Committing to anything can be scary whether it is a relationship, buying a car or house, signing up for a weight loss program, accepting a new job, or starting therapy. People avoid this by engaging in self-help actions but there is no real accountability and in today’s world, we easily and regularly deprioritize ourselves. When you have an appointment, it is usually kept. When you have homework, you are paying for services and will most likely engage in the activity. Finally, a therapist can see the progress you are making and lay that out for you to see.
Self-help is a great start to learning more about yourself and beginning to make changes. Remember that materials out there are meant to be more high level to get you started while the really good stuff requires paying someone. You get to establish a relationship with someone who wants to sincerely see you heal and be happy. You are worth it, I promise.