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Self-Help Books

Recommended Self-Help Books

In any library or bookstore you can find hundreds of self-help books on a wide range of topics. Are they any good? Do they really help?

Many people find that a well-written self-help book can be quite helpful. However, just reading a book won't do much to make real changes in your life. To get the most out of a self-help book you need to do more than simply read it:

  1. Choose a book that includes exercises and worksheets to complete and which makes concrete suggestions about what to do differently in real life.
  2. Before you start reading, think for a few minutes about what you want to get out of your reading... Do you want to understand the topic in general? Do you want to understand how you came to be the way you are? Do you want to figure our how to make some changes in your life? Do you want to be able to explain yourself to others? (If you have an idea of what you want to get out of your reading, you'll get more out of it.)
  3. As you read, think about how the material applies to your own life.
  4. Stop reading and complete the exercises and worksheets when you reach them.
  5. Make a point of trying out the ideas presented in the book. If you find them helpful, make a point of using them on a regular basis.
  6. If you find that the ideas are not helpful, you may want to try a different self-help book or try a self-help group in addition. You also may want to consult a knowledgeable professional (see the next section in this page). In particular, if the problem is having a significant impact on your life; if it is interfering with work, relationships, or family life; or if you have thoughts of suicide the odds are excellent that a mental health professional can help.

Locating Support Groups and Self-Help Groups
While books and information can be helpful, a support group can offer emotional support and encouragement in addition to offering the opportunity to learn from others' experiences and the opportunity to help others who are facing the same problems.

Self-Help Group Sourcebook On-line, published by the American Self-Help Clearinghouse, is a free online resource that lists hundreds of real-world organizations and support groups for mental health problems and medical disorders. These organizations can help an individual find more information about their problem, locate a support group in their area, or learn how to start a support group. You can locate the Self-Help Group Sourcebook On-line at http://www.wtcmhmr.org/selfhelp/.

Locating information about support groups and self-help groups in your area may not be easy. Here are some options to try:

  • Personal recommendations by friends and family can be quite helpful.
  • You may find many local support groups and self-help groups listed in the Yellow Pages under "Social Service Organizations."
  • If there is a United Way organization in your community, they may well be able to provide information and referrals.
  • Your physician or your religious leader may be able to recommend support groups and self-help groups which they are familiar with.

Sometimes people are hesitant to try support groups or self-help groups because they are uncertain about what it will be like or are uncertain about whether it will be helpful. The simplest solution is to simply try attending the group a few times and then decide whether to continue or not. A great many people find that these groups are valuable to them.

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