Does Self-Help Really Help? A One-Two Punch!
Some people don’t believe that a self-help book, like Feeling Good, or the Feeling Good Podcast could really help someone. They think that professional treatment is needed, especially if the symptoms are severe.
I’ve struggled with this question myself. When I pick up a self-help book at the bookstore, I usually get instantly turned off. However, the email below may provide a partial answer to this question.
I hope you’re rested up after your grueling series of workshops. I wanted to tell you about a client who called last week. He was desperate for treatment and described feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Due to a medical issue, I did not immediately schedule him, but recommended he listen to your podcasts from beginning to end and to get and begin working through “The feeling Good Handbook.“
I called today to schedule an appointment with him. He said he had listened to 30 podcasts, and was up to chapter 3 in your book. His affect was bright and optimistic. In fact, he indicated he might only need one or two sessions!
Thanks again for your generosity and hard work. They are truly making a positive difference in people’s lives, including mine.
Dan w Prine
I really appreciated this email! Thanks, Danny!
There have been lots of outcome studies that have reported that approximately two thirds of moderately or severely depressed individuals who are given a copy of my book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, or The Feeling Good Handbook, will improve significantly or recover within four weeks, without any other treatment. That’s why Feeling Good has sold more than five million copies, and why it is the book most often “prescribed” for depressed individuals by Canadian and American mental health professionals.
If you are a therapist treating individuals who are depressed or anxious (or both), there are three potential benefits from “assigning” one my books, along with the Feeling Good Podcasts, as psychotherapy “homework.” If you are not a therapist, but have family members or friends who are struggling with depression and anxiety, you might follow the same advice, because:
- There is a high likelihood that your patient (or family member, etc.) will improve significantly in a short period of time if he or she reads Feeling Good and listens to the Podcasts.
- If you are a therapist, the reading and listening your patients do between sessions will accelerate their learning, making your job that much easier. You won’t have to explain everything, and can use the therapy time individualizing the treatment for your patient’s specific needs.
- The assignments will provide you with a vital test of your patient’s motivation. I have published studies indicating that nearly all of the patients who do at least some reasonably consistent psychotherapy homework between sessions will improve or recover fairly quickly; in contrast, most of the patients who refuse to do the homework fail to improve significantly. In fact, many get worse, or simply drop out of therapy with no gains at all.
So a big thanks to Dan Prine for his illuminating email!
I’m back from two grueling teaching trips, and have only nine more presentations between now and Christmas. So I’ll soon be able to return to frequent blogging, and also will have time to work on my new book!
Check my website for teaching topics and locations. Also, remember that my Feeling Good Podcasts are entirely free, as are my Sunday afternoon Facebook broadcasts, on my public FB page. Join me Sundays at 3 PM West Coast Time and ask questions on mental health topics! These programs are for therapists and general public alike!
My live FB broadcasts have been moved to 3 PM Pacific (California) Time every Sunday afternoon. I hope you can join us! The show is for therapists and the general public alike. If you cannot join us live, you can download the shows and listen any time that’s convenient for you!
Feel free to submit questions you’d like me to cover in these shows. Your questions drive the discussion each Sunday afternoon!
How to Find My FB Broadcasts
Click on my Facebook tab on https://feelinggood.com/ if you’d like to watch me each week on my Live Facebook broadcast each Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. PST. Make sure to “like” my Public Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DavidBurnsMD/ so you can watch it on my page or yours.
Join me as I answer mental health questions from viewers — therapists and non-therapists alike — from all over the world. Type your question in the Facebook feed and I’ll do my best to answer it.
If you miss the broadcast you can watch the saved videos on my Facebook page! Also, viewers can watch these Live Facebook broadcasts as well as other interesting TEAM-CBT videos on the Feeling Good Institute’s YouTube channel!
The David and Fabrice Feeling Good Podcasts
Fabrice and I hope you also enjoy our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some five star ratings if you like what we’re doing! We are already enjoying 25,000 downloads per month from listeners like you. Thank you so much for your support of our podcasts!
At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.
Hi, Dr. Burns:
I hope this email finds you well!
Your book Feeling Good was featured in our Top 10 list of Best Books for Depression and Anxiety recently on Live Happy. Here’s the Story!
I am sharing this story with you here in hopes that you might share it on your website and social media channels as well with a link back to Live Happy, which your readers will find by clicking on the link above!
We appreciate your expertise to our Live Happy community.
I hope you have a wonderful day!
Sandra Bilbray (Bienkowski)
Thanks! I am honored, to say the least!
If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!
Once you link to my blog, you can sign up using the widget at the top of the column to the right of each page. Please firward my blogs to friends as well, especially anyone with an interest in mood problems, psychotherapy, or relationship conflicts.
Dear Dr. Burns
I suffer from social anxiety and depression. I feel that I don’t need to see a therapist and believe that CBT will be enough to help me.
I have purchased three of your books: The Feeling Good Handbook, Ten Days to Self Esteem and Intimate Connections. This might be overkill but I really wanted to cover all the bases.
However now I am confused and don’t know where to start and how to manage the learning. Which book should I work on first and how long do you think it should take to work through any given book? I believe somewhere you suggest that the Feeling Good Handbook this should be completed within 30 days. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Dr. David’s Answer
Thank you for your question. There are no rules of the road. Ten Days to Self Esteem is the shortest and easiest book, with exercises you can complete at each of the 10 steps. Essentially, it is a 10-step program to teach you the basics of CBT and to show you how to boost your own self-esteem. The publisher has insisted on the name, Ten Days to Self Esteem, but I would prefer the name, Ten Steps to Self-Esteem, so you can complete it at your own pace.
Intimate Connections can be very helpful for loneliness and shyness–it is about the power dynamics of dating to some extent, and how to communicate, how to flirt, how to get people to chase you, how to deal with rejection, and so forth. It also shows you how to overcome the fear of being alone. It is somewhat autobiographical, too, since these are issues I struggled with when I was growing up.
The Feeling Good Handbook is a strong book with a focus on depression as well as anxiety, including shyness, and relationship conflicts as well.
I would start with any one of them and focus on it. There is considerable overlap, so once you learn the techniques they will all flow very easily for you. The key is doing the exercises while you read. The people who do the exercises are almost always the ones who benefit the most from any of my books.
It is kind of like riding a bicycle. You can’t learn to ride by reading about bicycles or watching people ride bicycles. You’ve got to get on a bicycle and give it a try. It might feel a bit shaky, or new and unfamiliar at first, but you can quickly learn to ride.
Research studies have shown that many people can use these books without a therapist and benefit tremendously. Some people with more severe or long-standing will also need the help of a skillful and compassionate therapist, of course.
I am now working on something new and extremely exciting, and will announce it as soon as possible on this website.
Thanks so much!
David Burns, M.D.
WHEN PANIC ATTACKS
The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life
By David D. Burns, M.D.
“Another masterpiece from the author who helped millions help themselves with Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Dr. Burns’ elegant writing style, compassion and humor translate powerful psychotherapy methods into accessible, practical, and helpful tools for the vast number of individuals who struggle with anxiety.”
—Henny Westra, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the York University Anxiety Research Clinic
Anxiety is the most common mental health problem of all. Whether it’s as mild as shyness and chronic worrying or as severe as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, most of us suffer from some type of anxiety. Your doctor will probably tell you that these conditions result from a chemical imbalance in the brain, and therefore drugs represent the best—and only—effective treatment.
Not so, says highly regarded psychiatrist and bestselling author David Burns, M.D. in his new book WHEN PANIC ATTACKS (Broadway Books; June 12, 2007; 464 pages; 978-0-7679-2083-4; $14.95). According to Dr. Burns, there’s no convincing evidence that anxiety results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Furthermore, every type of anxiety—including chronic worrying, phobias, test anxiety, social anxiety, public speaking anxiety, Panic Disorder, hypochondriasis, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder—can be treated effectively and quickly without medications.
Dr. Burns explains that anxiety, like depression, is never caused by reality, but rather from the negative way we think about things. When we’re feeling anxious or insecure, we’re involved in a gigantic mental con but we don’t realize it. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
- “I just know this plane is going to run into turbulence and crash.”
- “What if my mind goes blank when I give my presentation at work? Everyone will see how nervous I am and think that I’m a complete idiot.”
- “Why am I so shy and insecure? Other people don’t feel this way. I’m such a loser.”
- “I feel like I’m about to crack up and have a nervous breakdown.”
In WHEN PANIC ATTACKS, Dr. Burns shows readers how to defeat their fears without having to take pills or delve into the past. He describes 40 powerful anti-anxiety techniques and shows readers how to select the methods that will work best for them. He brings these techniques to life with stories of real people who quickly overcame every conceivable type of anxiety, emphasizing that the goal is not just feeling somewhat better, but complete and lasting recovery.
If you’re worried sick and sick of worrying, if you’ve spent sleepless nights obsessing about your work, family, relationships, or health, and you want to enjoy greater creativity, productivity, and self-confidence, WHEN PANIC ATTACKS is the book for you.