Chapter 16 focuses mainly on psychological and biological treatments. Psychotherapy is a psychological intervention designed to help people resolve emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal problems and improve the quality of their lives. A poll found that about 20 percent of Americans have received psychological treatment at some point in their life; however, some people choose to do "personal psychological treatment" as well. Every year Americans spend over $650 million on over 3,500 new published self-help books that promise everything from happiness, to wealth, to weightless, and more. Researchers refer to this as "bibliotherapy," (the effects of reading self-help books).
Only a small number of studies have been conducted to suggest that bibliotherapy can actually lead to improvements. In fact, the majority of self-help books are untested and they usually only address everyday minor problems. Often times self-help books promise unrealistic or far stretched solutions, which in return cause readers to feel like they "failed." Because of this Hal Arkowitz and Scott Lilienfeld offered the following recommendations about selecting self-help books...
- Use books based on valid principles of change and that have research support.
- Evaluate the author's credentials.
- Be wary of books that make far-fetched promises.
- Beware of books that rely on a "one size fits all" approach.
- Seek professional help rather then self-help alone when it comes to more serious problems
Self-help books and bibliotherapy should not be disregarded completely, but rather, people should be cautious about how much they can actually help with problems. Although bibliotherapy is better than no treatment at all, psychotherapy is best for dealing with more serious issues.