A friend who knows I studied a little bit of the science around mental health, and am also currently seeing a therapist for CBT, asked whether I thought this book would work as a self-guided treatment. It’s available cheap on Kindle, and free on Kindle Unlimited, so it’d be kind of nice to think it’s an easy answer.
Well, I’m not discounting the power of a good book, ever, but I don’t think it’s likely to ever be a very good idea to try to do CBT on yourself. A therapist can slice through a whole crowd of issues to pick out the one which sounds important right now; you’re the one stuck in your head with the dizzing number of possibilities. If you know yourself really, really well, then maybe you can pick out the right thing… but even then, it can be hard to take things seriously, and give things a proper try, without someone to report back to. It can be hard to see your progress without having someone to help you see it, even if you self-administer the GAD7 or the PHQ9 or whatever other diagnostic.
And this particular book… no, it’s not a replacement for CBT. It can help introduce you to some of the ideas, but mostly it explains what a therapist will focus on, and a really high-level version of what they might choose to work on. My “deferred worry” system isn’t mentioned, for instance, even though it’s what my therapist identified as the most likely thing to help me. (Not sure. Maybe it is helping.) It has a worksheet for each type of problem that it mentions, but I don’t think it is (or could be) a replacement for the expertise of someone who has treated all kinds of people in their practice, and who can hone things down to what you need.
It would be a good one to read if you’re feeling a little sceptical about CBT and what it might offer; I still wouldn’t turn down CBT based on how you feel about it after reading this book, but it gives you a bit of a frame of reference for what CBT can be used for, and how broadly efficacious it is considered to be. So, it’s of use, but not a treatment plan unto itself.