Evaluating Self-help: Strategy #3 – Research on Claims?


So far, we have looked at two of Dr. Norcross’s strategies for evaluating self-help. These strategies warn us not to be taken in by slick marketing, and to beware of grandiose claims and promises.  Dr. Norcross’ s next strategy urges us to: 3. Examine the research evidence reported in the self-help resource

  • Emotional stories are always more interesting than factual data        Testimonials and stories by the author or speaker are so much more appealing than some dry, dense research study. But anecdotal evidence, like a testimonial, does not prove the efficacy of the self-help resource.  
  • Research may seem boring but it is in controlled, rigorous, scientific studies that real change interventions are proven to be effective.  Strategies for self-improvement with depth and research behind them will be more effective than the “glitz” cover, claims or charismatic, energetic presentation.
  • There is REAL research to support self-help interventions that promote lasting change. Look for research studies and clinical evidence that support the author’s claims.  Ask the speaker what scientific evidence exists to support his/her program. Vague statements like, “studies show or research proves” can be misleading and deceptive.
  • Check out the study or research a self-help program or guru mentions.   

It would be much easier to just trust a guru–trust the testimonials, believe the “science he or she is quoting, believe in the quick-fix. Valid research can be difficult to find or understand. But remember, it is YOUR life, your time and your money that is on the line! The extra effort to fact-check your guru is worth it!

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