Selfhelp groups and bibliotherapy

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Another historical factor that has favored the growth of cognitive therapy since the 1970s is the rapid proliferation of self-help groups and the growing popularity of self-help books. Bibliotherapy, or the use of books to help people solve problems or train themselves in such techniques as those used in cognitive therapy, has become widely used since it was first discussed in the early 1980s. In addition, the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and similar groups (Al-Anon, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, etc.) have been described in the psychiatric literature as a form of cognitive restructuring that helps uncover the distortions of "stinkin' thinkin'" and the emotional problems associated with addictions. Beck has contributed to the self-help movement both theoretically and practically. His theoretical contribution lies in his emphasis on the collaborative aspect of the therapist/patient relationship and the therapist's role in teaching the patient techniques for thought monitoring and belief testing that can be used after the termination of formal therapy.

In practical terms, Beck and some of his students have written self-help guides and other books for the interested nonspecialist. In 1988 Beck published a book called Love Is Never Enough, which introduced the concept of couples' therapy as well as cognitive therapy within the framework of a guide written for the general public. David Burns, who completed a residency in psychiatry under Beck in the late 1970s, has published several self-help books based on the principles of cognitive therapy, including Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (1980), Intimate Connections (1985), and The Feeling Good Handbook (1990). Burns's books are often recommended as "homework" for patients in cognitive therapy. Lastly, Beck's work on the cognitive distortions underlying anger and violence, called Prisoners of Hate, appeared in 1999. While it is not a self-help book in the strict sense, Prisoners discusses the cognitive bases of spouse and child abuse, hate crimes, and terrorism in a clear and accessible fashion.

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