Self-help “wisdom” is everywhere these days. New self-help books pop up every day, and social media is overflowing with inspirational quotes from self-help experts.

Although people want to improve their lives, many are skeptical of self-help books and personal development gurus because they wonder if it really works. The good news is that research shows that self-directed therapy can work if done right. 

You may not feel like a “new person” or the best version of yourself like most self-improvement books promise, but you’ll probably feel less anxious and depressed. Plus, you’ll learn some skills that’ll stick with you for the rest of your life. Here are some tips that can make the difference between buying countless self-improvement books that end up not working, and finding that one book that will change your outlook on life.

There is a way out of every box, a solution to every puzzle; it’s just a matter of finding it.

- JEAN-LUC PICARD

Find The Right Book 

Anyone can declare themselves a “self-help guru” and write a best-selling book. However, the best books are backed up by solid science. The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies website has a great list of such books covering a wide spectrum of mental health topics from anxiety to bipolar disorder.

Sticking to books that have received the seal of approval from recognized institutions can steer you clear of every new book, podcast, and guru that crosses your path. It can also help you stick to battle-tested techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), that licensed therapists use.