An Argument Against Self-Help Books

Many people – clients, friends, family members, etc. – often ask me for self-help book recommendations to offer them additional insight, support, or guidance in whatever they happen to be going through. To be honest, though, I’m not exactly the biggest self-help book enthusiast and tend to disappoint in my response. This article titled “Why I’ll never Read Another Parenting Book” more or less explains exactly why more self-help books than not are tailored towards making profits off of people’s insecurities, uncertainties, and fears. I try to steer people away from the average self-help book because they not only profit on people’s vulnerabilities, but ultimately distract people by getting them to focus on how to address their various symptoms rather than take them deeper into the meaning that lies within them.

“Anxious parents are big business, and parenting books are an important segment of the insecurity economy.”

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2 Responses to“An Argument Against Self-Help Books”

  1. August 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Alex, I use to recommend books and now I don’t. The reason is similar to yours. It can be a way of distancing from the therapy and not really having the book suit the client.
    The only book I might recommend for a client is The Courage To Heal if they have uncovered childhood sexual abuse.
    If a client talks about a particular book, of course I would explore with them what it means to them.
    thanks for bringing this up.

    • Alex
      August 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Frieda. I totally agree. I think there are probably some self-help books that can offer some sort of insight to a person’s particular situation, but there certainly is a distancing feel to most books in that genre. For instance, I’ll occasionally recommend “Hold Me Tight” to couples who ask and who it may pertain to. But even then I’ve had people express how there were so many things in that book that they found distracting or not pertinent to them. I’ll have to check out that book you mentioned.

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