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What Is Your Opinion on Self-Help?

Excellent! Then she should be in at least a decent school, no matter remote or in-person.

Way off topic, but I have a client who is more than midway through the semester at a state school and has no idea what two of her five professors look like. They just assign reading and then either test or expect papers back. It burns me up that these “teachers” are getting away with holding classes they aren’t actively teaching, for full tuition. The client got a B on an exam and emailed to say “I think I need help” and the professor’s response was “read my notes.” Now she has 5 papers recorded through the system as turned in, but they remain ungraded. Unfortunately the client is with me because she is passive and timid (and has an eating disorder) and so will not escalate in time for it to matter should her ultimate grade in the class be less than the A she wants and is willing to work for.

The other unseen prof is also one of my clients, though we’re on an occasional check-in basis. I’m going to find a way to say something when we meet next. On the other hand, the client doesn’t report any trouble following along successfully, so maybe not. His materials and written explanations must be sufficient.

WHICH all reminds me of this, which brings me nicely back on topic, as it is ultimately a clip and a movie about self-help.

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I haven’t seen this movie for at least 15 years.

They look so young but they didn’t look so young when I last saw this :frowning: haha

I’ve never seen that movie. Heard it was pretty good though.

It’s terrible to admit to a counselor, but it’s various required humanities-type of classes she just wants a credit for so this year is not totally a waste for her.

She doesn’t really care that much about anything but cost and how painful.

There’s a foreign language requirement. I refused to let her take Hebrew 101. So she’s taking French 101, in which she is fluent, but at least not a completely native speaker and never took a formal class.

I know, babies!

It may be my all-time favorite. You should absolutely watch it. You’ll find it relatable, I suspect.

In fact, speaking as a high school dropout and street kid, let me say for the official thread record that while self-help books were not my primary source of education prior to my return to college (which I started at 16 after GEDing, but couldn’t seem to stick with until I returned as an adult), good novels and news magazines were, the self-help books certainly provided information I needed when I started having children and held a successful family as my primary ambition. The master’s degree and quality of my practice are built on that foundation (“dollar-fifty in late charges at the public library”). I’m obviously not a genius and so don’t relate to Will Hunting in that regard, but the basic themes are entirely relatable to me, both as a therapy client and as a therapist being occasionally challenged by by smart, jaded clients.

Lastly, one thing that irritates the shit out of me is people who push ideas as their own. I remember a therapist way back when talking about the concepts in Dance of Anger without attribution, and had my own “yeah, I read that, too” moment. She wouldn’t schedule me for another session, saying she’d call me, but never did. And I’m in there talking about the issues my mother’s abandonment caused. Asshat. I’m always very careful to give credit, even if it’s just “I read somewhere that…”

So that’s my official opinion on self-help. Helpful as part of a well-rounded self-education.

No offense taken here! I have my own list of classes taken only because the overlords demanded them of me.

Thank you.

One of my now officially old friends/mentors recommended I start into higher learning as an amends to myself and for personal/professional development so that I could start to become the person I wanted to be. It kinda worked. It was enlightening and engaging, but there were a lot of personal obstacles that I didn’t forsee and wasn’t able to surmount.

The long and short of it is that if I didn’t feel as though I was/am worth it, I’m not going to put forth the effort to succeed.

That’s still a bit of a problem. One of the “things to do” on the work in progress list.

I’m pro-college for smart people, but the reality is that it’s not for everyone, nor do every smart person’s goals align enough with it to make it worth the time, effort, and money.

When I was dropping in and out (ages 16-21) I knew I was bright (if I liked the professor, I got an A…if not, I blew off the class and dropped or failed), but I really couldn’t envision myself as a normal, functional person with a career. I saw myself as broken, which view both of my very flawed - but also very bright and very successful - parents supported. My mother’s death when I was 21 freed me, both from the expectation of college and from the destructive relationship I had with her, though my mother had many very fine qualities as well and I loved her. It just wasn’t healthy, and that was her fault - her secrets, her guilt, her insecurities. I took a break from my father, as well. The part time job at the gym (ultimately full time and management) came right after her death, and was maybe the saving of me, because it was the first time I really remade myself and learned that this is a thing I can do.

Back to you, the question isn’t whether you should do school or not do school, but what would “happy” look like for you optimally, and what do you need to get there? If school, you should do that, even if it means figuring out how to surmount the obstacles.


I’m in college and thoroughly enjoy it, but that’s because I’m lucky.

  1. I grew up in a family that valued academics so I never ran into the discouragement that many face in hs. Performance in challenging stuff outside of school was low stakes. They also provided maximum support for schooling, even if it put a serious dent in family finances. Also, I’m naturally curious and focused so study skills weren’t an issue (unless it was math of course :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:)
  2. Starting from 3rd grade, I’ve had an unbroken string of amazing teachers, so I had faith in the schooling system- mindset apparently really matters! Even the ones that weren’t good at teaching subject matter were amazing people (ie the chem teacher who let me cook in class)
  3. I was “forced” to attended a university that turned out to be a perfect fit. It more or less prioritizes undergraduates and every professor I’ve come across has been amazing. For example, my research advisor and I have bi- monthly meetings and at least 1/2 of the time is spent talking about cats and Chinese culture. The (lack of) school spirit and research focus also suit my personality.

Yeah. That’s what I’m working on now. You’ve seen my general and at some points very specific take on self help and recovery. I can’t say enough on how well that has worked to break free from substance abuse and other self destructive behavior, but at some point some people also realize the requirement for professional help too. I reached that point late last year after falling into a deep depression. After the heart attack and the initial panic/rush to get better and stronger as fast as possible I crashed into a very dark place. That exposed a real absence and inability to endure and recover psychologically from traumatic events. There’s a whole lifetime of why’s behind that, which is what we’re addressing in therapy now. It is also beyond the scope and purpose of the step stuff, hence the professional help.

It shouldn’t be left unsaid though, that while self help is very good for some, others may require professional help, and they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

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Nah. I believe you are very fortunate, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is actually a lot right about it.

I’ve been lucky a few times. People have even said “Wow. You are lucky to have lived…”.

What you’re experiencing is the benefit of strong values, forthought, and guidance. I don’t know them or the intimate details, but I’d be proud to have a good set of parents who cared enough to put forth that kind of effort.

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I’m actually about to enroll. This November. I have experience with college. Back then, in my early twenties, I wasn’t ready. I’m now almost thirty and matured, and I know this time will be different.

Sometimes success in college is just a matter of growing up and developing discipline more than intelligence. And sincerely, I do believe this time will be different.

And just to double-check, Community Colleges are legit, right? Not like the for-profit ones that are just scamming you?

Most are. It would be good to check at an individual school, but what most do now is work with the state school system so that their courses are in line and the time and money spent isnt wasted.

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Community colleges are great. I graduated from one with an associates degree in nursing. I passed the nursing boards just like someone who got their bachelors degree in nursing. And now I make the same hourly wage as someone who spent 4 years doing what took me two. And I can finish my bachelors degree online at my leisure, with my place of employment paying for all of it.


I work with people in recovery regularly, including 12-steppers, and would say that while substance abuse treatment (including AA/NA, but not limited to it) is excellent for addressing the addiction, it does not always address the things that made the individual vulnerable to addiction in the first place. That’s where therapy comes in. For example, “I was always a huge disappointment to my brilliant adoptive military officer father” is a narrative that can be managed in AA, but “managed” is not resolved. Resolved is realizing that the brilliant father with high expectations was also an alcoholic, and an abusive one at that, and then sorting through what that meant, and what it means now, when you want optimal relationships and are realizing you don’t have the tools.

It’s like weight loss surgery for obesity. It works. People lose weight. But at some point, people need to identify what happened in the first place, and develop new skills to achieve “healthy” rather than just “not obese.”

Yes. They are state/county schools, and credits transfer to state universities.

How far are you planning to go? Have you thought about getting an MSN? God, I admire nurses.

I’m planning on going for physicians assistant. My mom has an MSN and it didn’t do a whole lot for her. Nurse practitioners in this state have to go to school another 2 yrs to get acute care certifications in order to practice in a hospital. In fact hospitals are trying to phase out NPs altogether. So PA opens many more doors. In my current job I make as much as a PA so I’m not in a super rush.

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