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Self-help therapy

Some of the advice on this page may be difficult to follow during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more about minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

There are many types of self-help therapy, including:

  • books
  • online tools
  • phone and email counselling

Self-help books

There are thousands of self-help books available in bookshops, libraries or online.

Some are excellent, but many are not.

Check whether a book was written by an accredited counsellor or therapist with lots of experience.

Look for books that are endorsed by a professional organisation or health professional.

'Overcoming' self-help books

The College of Psychiatrists in Ireland endorse a number of self-help resources including the 'Overcoming' self-help series. These books and CDs are based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). They cover more than 30 common mental health problems, for example, overcoming low self-esteem and overcoming grief. They're available from bookshops and libraries. You can also download them from the Overcoming website.

Online mental health tools

Some online mental health tools have been approved for use by the HSE.

These include:

Research shows that these can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy. They can work for depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

The kind of support offered by psychological therapies services varies.

Some allow you to work through a self-help course online - with support from a health professional.

Others offer live therapy with a therapist via instant messaging or a webcam.

You can also join an anonymous online community. There you can chat with other people who have similar mental health problems to you.

You don't need much experience with computers or technology to use them.

Phone and email counselling

Phone and email counselling are alternatives to face-to-face therapy.

They can be ideal if:

  • you're shy or don't want to meet the therapist
  • you can't find one in your area
  • you can't travel or find childcare
  • you need support during evenings and weekends

You can also have 3-way conversations for couples therapy.

Phone counselling is just like having a face-to-face session, except that you talk to a trained counsellor over the phone.

Phone and email counselling are increasingly being offered by private therapists. Sometimes they are delivered through workplaces or charities.

If you don't feel better after trying self-help therapy, or you feel worse, talk to your GP.

Crisis support

If you're in a crisis and want to speak to someone straight away, call the Samaritans or ChildLine. Both are free and available 24 hours a day.

page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
next review due: 23/09/2021

Do you need to talk to someone right now?

Free call Samaritans 116 123