Mental Health Workbooks: Pros and Cons

For some teens, using a mental health workbook to learn new skills and track their progress can help them improve their health and well-being. However, not everyone agrees that mental health workbooks are beneficial to every teen struggling with their mental wellness. We’ve rounded up some pros and cons to these types of workbooks to help you decide if they could provide value to your teen.

Pro: Mental Health Workbooks Are an Affordable Way to Learn New Forms of Therapy

With so many different types of therapies, including dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and more available, it can be hard to figure out what therapy best suits your teen—especially if you’re paying out of pocket for treatment. Most types of therapy have a workbook that explains the skills and provides the reader with exercises, so your teen can learn the key elements of a specific form of therapy without you needing to pay for actual treatment.

Con: Mental Health Workbooks Are Not a Replacement for Real Therapy

open workbook and pen

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While a mental health workbook can help your teen learn the key theories and exercises that a certain type of therapy subscribes to, it’s not a replacement for receiving therapy from a licensed medical professional. Some forms of therapy have a group therapy component that can’t be replicated in a workbook. Furthermore, mental health workbooks are unable to give feedback and advice like a real life therapist can.

Pro: Mental Health Workbooks Can Help Teach Important New Skills

Many mental health books focus on a specific mental illness, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression. If you think your teen may have a mental illness but they’re not ready to reach out for help, a workbook can help teach them valuable coping skills to use until they can receive treatment.

Con: Content and Advice May Be Misinterpreted

reading a mental health workbook

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While mental health workbooks are filled with useful content and exercises, it’s easy for the reader to misinterpret either what the workbook is advising or take advice that does not apply to their current situation. Since the workbook is unable to give feedback, the reader can’t tell if they’re taking something out of context or if a different form of therapy would suit them better. A doctor or therapist is able to tailor therapy sessions to the patient, but a workbook takes a one-size-fits-all approach.

Pro: Mental Health Workbooks Can Help Build on Lessons Learned in Treatment

If your teen is already receiving treatment, a workbook can be a great way for them to reflect on what they’re learning in therapy and build their coping skills toolbox. Many therapists have favorite workbooks that they recommend to their patients, so if your teen is currently receiving treatment, they can ask their therapist for ideas.

Mental health workbooks can be a valuable tool if your teen is struggling with a mental wellness issue, but they can also cause some harm and confusion if you and your teen aren’t careful. Before your teen starts using a mental health workbook, they should ask their therapist for a recommendation. If your teen doesn’t have a therapist, you can check out our list of workbooks and see if any would suit your teen’s needs.

Feature Image: Lia Leslie