Look anywhere on the Internet for information on mental health or anxiety and you will find people telling you that what they think is best. More often than not there is some kind of financial advantage waiting for them if you follow their philosophy – it could be by buying their ebook or visiting them for treatment. The question is, how on earth do you know if what they are saying is true – can they really help your anxiety?
Most people who suffer from things like anxiety and low self esteem have a habit of thinking negatively. They would tend to look for reasons why treatment won’t work, rather than look for reasons why it might. Add to this the fact that many of the treatments on offer for anxiety have not been ratified by proper scientific study and you have recipe for skepticism.
There is one important tool in the armoury of marketing and information: the testimonial.
Testimonials try to circumvent the problem of statistical proof by providing empirical evidence, that is to say word of mouth endorsements. There is no substitute for rigorous statistical analysis and scientific study but empirical evidence does have its uses. For one they allow you to hear what someone who has experienced the treatment has to say about it. There are possible drawbacks, such as the fact that no one publishes negative feedback about what they are trying to sell. There used to be a site called remedyfind.com that allowed users to rate therapies and drugs. Of course it wasn’t 100% scam-proof but it did give some fairly interesting information. It’s major drawback was arguably the fact that people don’t normally go on the Internet to talk about success unless they are making money from it! People with really effective anxiety cures get on with their lives.
I think testimonials on websites are worth reading, but be careful! I found some cases where remarkably similar or even identical testimonials are used by more than one site! Some organisations, like the IAPH, have created ways to certify testimonials as authentic. I think this is a good thing.
Ultimately, any anxiety cure worth it’s salt will stand up to statistical analysis in the long run.