Cliff Straehley III MD

Psychiatrist

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Self-Help Options

Many effective self help resources are now available. For example there are many excellent self-help books, on a wide variety of different topics. I have listed some of them in a different web page. Scientific research has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that so-called "Biblio- therapy" (self treatment using a book) can by itself effectively treat depression sometimes. Also, abundant and accurate information is also available from the Internet. For example there is the website of the National Institute of Mental Health (www.NIMH.org). Although I wholeheartedly endorse "one-on-one" treatment, self-help methods are complementary and even offer some potential advantages. Twelve step groups ( for example, Alcoholics Anonymous) are another free and widely available resource. There are many other kinds of 12 step groups, and they all offer the benefit of a fellowship (see 12 Step Groups).

If I had a magic pill to give to my patients at their first visit, I would want it to provide the capacity for "healthy self-reliance." With such a pill their treatment would be completed in a single session. Twelve step groups do not have a professional leader. Therefore any participants have to take personal responsibility for their attendance, which increases self-reliance. In addition self-help groups are free, so aside from transportation costs and perhaps arranging childcare, money is less of a problem. In other words there are fewer excuses for not going. Some churches and spiritual communities also offer free and effective mental health care, sometimes in a group format.

Clearly individual therapy isn't cheap despite the presence of some clinics that operate on a sliding scale basis. A combined approach is possible. Perhaps you could stretch out seeing an individual therapist to once every month or two and combine that with attendance at self-help groups and/or with doing Biblio-therapy.