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The self-help market is a broad term used to describe the various types of books, audio tapes, online courses and seminars that are all geared toward providing individuals with ideas and tools to use in dealing with different life issues. While this type of market has been around for decades, greater interest in self-help books during the latter part of the 20th century spurred an ever growing trend of authors and speakers who would provide thoughts and guidance on how to deal with just about everything from the death of a loved one to overcoming some type of phobia. In recent years, the self-help market has expanded to online resources that can be accessed by paying a flat rate or a monthly fee, offering support and encouragement to consumers who seek out these types of resources.
There are a number of different products provided through the self-help market. One of the most common products is in the form of books. Authors produce work focused on a number of different life issues, allowing readers to learn more about various conditions and events that cause distress, and sometimes provide practical suggestions and counsel on how to deal with those situations. The credentials of the authors will often vary, with some holding medical and various other education credentials, while other self-help books are written from the perspective of someone who has faced the same issue.
Another common product on the self-help market is the audio recording. First marketed in the middle of the 20th century in the form of long-playing records, these recordings have since been made available on cassette and on CDs. More recently, audio seminars and books have been available for download via the Internet, and can easily be stored on handheld devices for easy retrieval.
The self-help market also includes access to online seminars that include the use of information in several different formats. Some of these online seminars are live events, allowing attendees to interact with the presenters. Others are pre-recorded and can be accessed when and as the attendee wishes to do so. Often, these types of self-help seminars require paying some sort of registration fee to attend the event, or a monthly fee to access all the resources found at the site where the seminar and other self-help sessions reside.
One of the more enduring products in the self-help market is the live seminar presented by someone recognized as an authority with a given life issue. With this type of event, consumers register to attend a seminar focused on subjects ranging from divorce recovery, money management, and grief management to mortgage strategies or finding love. Typically, these live seminars will last anywhere from one day to a week, depending on the scope of the event.
There is some difference of opinion on the value of the products offered in the self-help market. Proponents note that books, recordings, and online resources offered as part of the marketplace are often quick and affordable for people who cannot afford the expense associated with professional counseling. From this perspective, the materials offered help people to understand and cope with a wide range of life situations. Detractors of the self-help industry note that while many of the products offered are produced by knowledgeable and competent professionals, there are many products that are poorly designed and offer little in the way of practical knowledge or support.