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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon November 21, 2009
Two psychologists and a research associate, all affiliated with the University of Texas at Dallas provide an annotated bibliography of books identified and evaluated by more than 500 clinical and psychologists -- all members of the American Psychological Association holding the Ph.D. degree -- from the first national, large survey on this topic.

Commenting that, "The people with the most influence on which self-help books sell best and worst are the wrong people -- they are the publishers, the owners of large bookstore chains, and a hodgepodge of authors with a vast range of credentials, psychological knowledge, and competencies...", the author's hope that general readers and mental health professionals will carefully consider the opinion and ratings indicated in this book before purchasing and/or using self-help books.

Some 350 self-books, divided into 33 categories, selected by the authors from the shelves of national bookstore chains, recommendations from colleagues and gleaned from reading references of in books and articles about self-help books, and from those added by respondents to the survey instrument are evaluated using a five-point scale -- five stars and a dagger.

Noting that while debate still swirls around the question as to whether self-help books can be of great benefit to patients not engaged in therapy, it will be of more interest to authors and publishers to read the comment: "Therapists increasingly recommend self-help books to their clients...[and,] In our national survey, 70% of the mental health professionals said that they had recommended three or more self-help books to their clients in the last year."

Includes author and subject indexes and a categorized appendix that lists the title, author, survey rating, number of raters and the "Guide rating" for each book rated. Biases and further discussion of the survey instrument and respondents are included in Appendix B "Notes and References."

Readers of this book may also be interested in reading a more recent (2009) top-10 list of "best books" read within the past three years by respondents to a survey of mental health practitioners by Joan M. Cook (Yale School of Medicine), Tatyana Biyanova (Yale) & James C. Coyne (U of Pennsylvania), titled, "Influential Psychotherapy Figures, Authors and Books," in published in the journal, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 46(1) March 2009, pp. 42-51.

R. Neil Scott
Middle Tennessee State University
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