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Steps in the Self-help Process

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Bob's problem solving process example shows how a good mental health self-help plan can be arrived at. Bob becomes aware that there is a problem (by paying attention to his feelings), commits himself to solving that problem (by taking responsibility for the problem and making an emotional investment towards solving it), and considers his action options in the light of both his own and his friend's personalities (by performing a self-assessment, and by considering the various alternatives). He chooses the best of the options he generates (selecting the most appropriate actions for meeting his goals) and then finally makes a commitment to himself that he will carry that plan out. He carries through on his intention by actually speaking with his friend later that night. You can use Bob's general pattern for creating a useful self-help plan to create your own self-help plan.

We can further clarify how to create a good self-help plan by describing each step in the planning process in some detail. We encourage you to use these steps in planning your own self-help efforts; these steps will help you to make sure that your self-help efforts have the best chance of producing good results for you.

Decide whether to seek professional help or to pursue self-help.  Before you launch into a self-help process, you need to know that self-help is an appropriate means of addressing your issues. Self-help is not appropriate as a means of treatment when you are dealing with serious illness, or when you have reason to believe your judgment may be compromised. It is a more appropriate path to pursue when you are dealing with less serious, non-life-threatening conditions.