Some of my best friends are self-help books.

Book cover: DIY Therapy: simple self-help skills

FYI: Counselling is so passé.

A while back, I may have unfairly accused some of my fellow yoga classmates of being unfriendly. Then, to my surprise, the long-familiar woman beside me in class asked me whether I needed to modify a pose because I was pregnant. OMG! That’s why I’m so tired! I am the first long-post-menopausal gay woman to get pregnant without a turkey baster or a transplanted uterus. Guinness Book of World Records, here I come.

Let’s move to more serious matters: I’m concerned my post deriding the psychological do-it-yourself genre may have left you with the wrong impression. I am not against self-help books. Quite the contrary. I believe there is significant merit to these books. Often I feel I learn more from a good self-help book than from the academic writing on the same topic.

I’ve sought self-help books out when I’ve been struggling with various issues, and I’ve read titles that others have recommended. I may not have loved all of them but they’ve all made me think. I’m still learning from the book I maligned recently, for that matter.

Throughout my career, I have often recommended specific books to clients if asked or if I felt a book might help. I even have favourites on a variety of topics. Are you depressed? How about anxious? Ready to disown your acting-up teenager? I have just the book for each of you. Let me grab it from my bookshelf.

Maybe I felt that book I critiqued had shortcomings, but I have no right to judge whatever book you might find helpful because I’m not you. So what if it’s not written up to my ridiculously rigorous standards; all that matters is that it speaks to you.

I recall once recommending my favourite grief book–of course I have a favourite grief book–to a client following a significant loss. She informed me at her next session that the book I’d suggested wasn’t very helpful but she’d found another one that was if I was interested. I then wondered how many other clients had disliked the book suggestions I’d made over the years but hadn’t had the heart to tell me. More power to the client who did, I say.

If I’m honest, I think many a potential client would benefit more from reading a book or two than from coming to see me. Forget counselling; just read this seminal work on the topic. Or talk to a friend who’s gone through something similar. Or watch a show on the subject. All of these things may help.

So read away, potential client. I hope your book helps. Save yourself some bucks by not going for therapy. But if you decide talking to a professional might help, give me a call. I’m still alive and counselling. Maybe I’ll go down to my office tomorrow and talk to myself about how it feels to be asked if I’m pregnant. Oh, I forgot, two new clients are coming in. Yippee! Too bad their bedside reading didn’t suffice.


2 thoughts on “Some of my best friends are self-help books.

  1. Have you ever read, “Embracing being the first long-post-menopausal gay woman to get pregnant without a turkey baster or a transplanted uterus.” It’s a classic!


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