Self-help vs. traditional therapy

When things go awry and we feel disillusioned with the world, we’re often directed to the therapist’s office. But what if there was a more accessible, cost-effective way for us to heal?

When life feels heavy or hopeless, people often seek to gain an unbiased perspective on their neuroses with the help of a mental health professional. The concept of “self-help,” on the other hand, has acquired a reputation of being therapy’s less-legitimate stepsister. However, some studies claim both routes can elicit similar results. This meta-analysis concerning cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs revealed that patients completed self-guided CBT approaches at the same rate as they did when a therapist was involved. Moreover, it found that the treatment outcomes for various psychological conditions were similar, suggesting either route can provide symptom relief.

Alternatives to talk therapy

A structured self-help method could come in the form of a community-oriented, 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or as a personalized, autonomous online tool like myCompass. Both programs encourage deep reflection on one’s thoughts and on the behavior that contributes to unrest. Their common goal is to empower people with the tools and the perspective they’ll need to move from a disparaging present to a more hopeful future.

What does innovation in psychotherapy look like?

The inner lives of human beings are infinitely complex; it takes time to connect with and articulate vulnerable thoughts and feelings, never mind communicating them to another person in the room. Couple that with the various barriers to traditional therapy—whether it is cost, time, compatibility or location—and it becomes clear that the space of psychotherapy requires innovation to impact a broader audience. What would a world with more forms of simple, accessible and effective mental health tools look like? What role can technology play to help bridge the gap between psychotherapy and the individual?