Chapter 74 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan

WILLIAM MILLER, A RESEARCHER in the alcohol-treatment field, wanted to find out what kind of treatment would work best for controlling problem drinking. He divided his experimental subjects into two groups and tested the treatment group with a variety of methods, including Antabuse (a drug that makes you sick if you drink) and counseling.

That was the treatment group. But researchers always need a control group when they test the effectiveness of a therapy. They need a baseline of results to compare to the results of the experimental group. The control group was merely given a short self-help manual and told to read it and do their best.

Many of the treatments worked very well. But, Miller says, "To our amazement, people in the control group did just as well as the treatment group." They thought maybe they had flubbed the study somehow, so they repeated it and got the same results. Still skeptical, they repeated the experiment again and, once again, they got the same results.

People who simply took a short self-help book home were just as capable of moderating their drinking as those who received the expensive and more extensive treatment. Why?

Much of the most effective part of therapy is simply convincing clients to change and telling them how, which is of course something the therapist could put in a book. The changes you make in your life have to be made by you. Even good therapy is largely dependent on the client's self-help.

Practical written advice can be as effective as the most expensive help you can find because the two ways to improve your life are:

  1. do something different
  2. think something different

AND WRITTEN MATERIAL can help you accomplish both of those. All you need is a little motivation, and a book can furnish you with that too.

This book you now have in your hands may look inert. It may seem commonplace and ordinary. But it can really help you change your life! Use the ideas. Improve your actions and the way you think. Use it as a spur to your own motivation. You can make your life better - no kidding. Are you interested? Help yourself.


Make your life better by reading helpful books.

Self-Help Stuff That Works makes an excellent gift. You can now order it from any of twelve online bookstores. These are the most popular:

Would you like to turn your job into a spiritual discipline? Check out:
Getting Paid to Meditate

Do you feel overwhelmed with things to do? Do you constantly feel that you don't have enough time? Check out:
Having the Time

next: Speedy Reading One Chunk at a Time

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 25). Self-Help, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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