Self-change manuals are a highly successful tool to help mild to moderate drinkers who have strong willpower to walk themselves through their alcohol problems. Bilbiotherapy expands on this notion and uses writing and reading as a tool for expressive therapy. Self-change manuals can be found in many formats including on websites and books. Some self-change manuals have elements of spirituality or beliefs written into them, and others are based purely on health. Many bookshops and libraries will have a collection of these very popular guides which will range from basic to very complex manuals.
Research has found that natural recovery (self-change) is a very common pathway to change for individuals with alcohol problems. It has been reported that nearly 75% of recoveries are due to self-change. Self change manuals rely on the individual having the motivation and initiative to make changes. Many people would prefer to manage their own recovery from alcohol, seeing that they do not have a big problem and don’t require the services of a therapist or doctor.
Problem drinkers are those having identifiable life difficulties due to their drinking. They are not considered severely dependent on alcohol or addicts. Often they do not consume alcohol every day, and can maintain some control of their drinking- but alcohol does negatively impact on their lives. Problem drinkers do not need to be treated in the same way that alcohol dependents or addicts do. They often do not need extensive counseling or interventions but can easily identify the reasons for their drinking and work on changing their habits without a therapist.
Once an individual has decided that they may have a problem with drinking and they would like to make changes, the first step under a self-change model is to commit to change and admit to the problem. Admitting to a problem can take time, but once it is done, progress can be made. Honest evaluation of the amount of alcohol consumed or the risky behaviors engaged in when using a self-change manual also allows an individual to not be embarrassed about their drinking or be anxious obout being judged. Often, a more realistic picture of the drinking behaviors is realized in this model.
Once the problem has been noted and assessed, it is important to set goals for change. These goals may include reducing the amount of alcohol consumed or abstaining. Individuals may also use the self-change model to set personal goals for other aspects of their life, for example, to increase fitness, save money or return to study. In regards to setting the goals for their drinking issues, self-change manuals usually encourage drinkers to set a date for change. As there is no therapist to remind individuals of their date, it is up to the individual to remind themselves or get friends or family to help them remember their commitments.
Bibliotherapy helps individuals to understand their problem through reading and writing, and it is believed that it is a healing experience. The theory behind bibliotherapy is to arm a person with knowledge of their own problems, triggers and relationships so that they can make positive changes. Writing and reading about others who have been in similar situations can help to reinforce the need to abstain or reduce the level of drinking. Bibliotherapy can be implemented in conjunction with therapist-based treatment as a kind of homework between sessions where the patient can further explore themes of issues raised in the session.
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