Self-help Links for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Problems:
Also see the Blogroll at the bottom of each page.
Marketers Please READ! This practice does not add links to treatment hotlines, referral services, or treatment program websites. I do not recommend any particular treatment program without a thorough assessment of the client, in order to maintain ethical practice and to effectively match the suggested treatment to the person. If you operate or represent a treatment referral service, ad-supported “advice “page, or resource aggregation website, please do not ask me to add your link!
I pay for this website myself and am not willing to give you space on it to help you generate revenue.
The following links are provided for the use of my clients and the general public. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of a particular organization nor the suitability of the resource for an individual’s specific needs. You should employ these techniques with the caution that professional counseling, psychotherapy, or a treatment program may be the most appropriate intervention for a particular problem. However, I often recommend these resources to my clients.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Related Resources
I regard CBT and Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) as closely related cousins of Adlerian therapy, as they all involve helping individuals become more aware of dysfunctional thoughts, beliefs, and emotional reactions that can be re-evaluated and consciously changed. Some of the Beck videos are geared towards counselors more than clients, but are still useful.
Assertiveness Training Information
Assertiveness training was more popular a few years ago than it is now, when mindfulness seems to be all the rage, but the ability to speak up and stand up for oneself is still a useful behavioral technique to practice. Of course, it also involves changing one’s thinking to believe that “I do have the right to speak up and stand up for myself.” The most influential book on assertiveness was “Your Perfect Right,” by Robert Alberti & Michael Emmons. There is also a good chapter on assertiveness in the “Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook” by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman and Matthew McKay.
A good article from the Psych Central blog on “Building Assertiveness in Four Steps” is here.
Substance Use Resources
These are organizations that provide mutual help for those wishing to change their patterns of substance use, by means of in person local meetings as well as online articles, chat rooms, and bulletin boards. Twelve-step meetings are the oldest and most widely available; however, other forms such as SMART Recovery offer alternatives for those who may do better with a secular (non-spiritual, non-religious) approach, or one which emphasizes personal empowerment rather than powerlessness. The “rethinking Drinking” website is basically a “harm reduction” approach which allows users to assess their alcohol consumption patterns and offers feedback about risk as well as suggestions about modifying their alcohol intake and associated habits. All of the other organizations use an abstinence-based approach – the goal for them is to help people completely abstain from alcohol and/or drugs, after having made a decision to do so (even if they are still drinking or using). Often, abstinence is the decision that makes the most sense after a person has repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to cut down or moderate their drinking or other substance use.
Refuge Recovery (Substance abuse self-help with a Buddhist orientation)
Relaxation and Meditation Resources!
I try to update and add links here regularly, but some links may have changed. I usually recommend these as part of CBT for anxiety, so you may be directed here after a session with me to do some “homework” between sessions. But I always suggest that you try different behavioral and mind-body techniques and see what works best for you; and then stick with that.
A NOTE ON APPS: Some of my clients have had good results with app-based relaxation and meditation/mindfulness programs. I have not really tried these, and they also tend to change often (and most charge for a subscription to anything more than the limited free sample materials), so I do not recommend either for them or against them. However, I believe that there are enough free meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness materials available, that should meet most people’s needs for dealing with anxiety and stress. Besides, I have always been more of a book person than an app person!
The whole idea of these techniques is that you are re-training your nervous system to cue your body to be more relaxed, which in turn can cue your mind to experience less disturbance. Usually, we will also be working on identifying and tracking automatic thoughts, beliefs, and especially mistaken ways of thinking. These relaxation exercises can also be used to extinguish phobias and panic reactions by imaging situations that have triggered them while practicing relaxation (called “systematic desensitization”).
First, some “classic” behavior therapy relaxation exercises (progressive relaxation and a “safe place” imagery exercise):
Another technique I frequently recommend is mindfulness. The difference between mindfulness and other relaxation or meditation techniques is that in mindfulness, you “don’t fight’ the disturbing thoughts or feelings… You just “notice” them and let them drift by.
Here, Jon Kabat-Zinn speaking to Google employees and conducting a demonstration of mindfulness meditation. You can listen to his explanation (which is pretty interesting and helps you get the idea of mindfulness), and/or start where he begins to demonstrate the techniques after about the 20 minute mark:
There is also another mindfulness exercise recorded in another YouTube video. This one is specifically intended for anxiety:
If you don’t like the voices of the people in those recordings, you can search for others with the terms “mindfulness meditation audio” (or video, or scripts).
One other “classic” type of breathing-type exercise is the one that Herbert Benson (a cardiologist) first adapted from Indian meditation techniques for use in a health care setting. There’s a website that gives the basic technique from his book (which came out 30 years ago) at:
Relaxation exercises are pretty easy to find online as well. The three basic types are progressive relaxation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises. You can also record your own relaxation or imagery exercise from a script. One nice one (which also includes a version of the classic “safe place” imagery exercise) is here:
There are a couple books that have a lot of good techniques as well, and you can use them to record your own relaxation exercises. They are The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by McKay and Davis:
Also, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne:
Another couple links for meditation:
Vipanassā Fellowship – Buddhist Mindfulness and Meditation Audio Recordings (These are rather Zen-oriented):
Additional links for relaxation, breathing, mindfulness, and stress reduction can be found at the Loyola University Maryland Counseling Center’s “Relaxation Room”: