I often recommend self help books to my clients. Not as a substitute for counseling, but as an adjunct to counseling. The books I most often recommend are in the sidebar on the right.
One reason I recommend self help books is to keep the client/couple invested in therapy. It’s too easy for people to not think about making changes in their lives until they are sitting in my office. Working through a book keeps the client involved throughout the week. Counseling then becomes more than 50 minutes once every seven days.
Another reason is that is speeds up the process. Teaching the material in a book while the client is in my office slows counseling down. Like school, people will get more out of counseling if they do their homework first.
Finally, reading self help books demystifies counseling. A good counselor has insight and skills, but he is not a mind reader. Nor is he privy to things ordinary human beings don’t know about. Therapy, quite simply, is work. Seeing your life and problems from God’s perspective, renewing your mind daily, laying aside anger and bitterness; all of these things ask for some effort on the part of the client, but they are not arcane arts.
A self help book is not a panacea. But it can be helpful.