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The "Best" Isn't Always the Best

Tired user reading blank computer screen - there are many useless expert reviews online


Most of my patients use something called "the internet." It's a wonderful resource, mostly of memes and pet videos, but it also comes with some drawbacks. One such drawback is expert reviews and opinions.[1]

The Pitfalls of “One-Size-Fits-All” Approaches

Undoubtedly there are benefits to these reviews, but I notice many folks falling into the trap of thinking the best ranked products or techniques are the best for them personally. There are several reasons why this is often not the case.

Tailoring Techniques to Fit Your Goals

When seeking advice online, it's crucial to remember that "the best" approach may not align with your unique objectives. For example, someone trying to better organize their life and create productive habits may want to make their bed each morning. This person often gets lost in their day or needs to rush to work, so they decide to make the bed right when they wake up. Imagine their confusion when they read online that letting your sheets air out is the better option?![2] If followed, these kinds of tips which are often treated as the best for everyone, may hinder someone’s primary goals because of a lesser benefit In the case of making the bed, the best strategy may be to develop a habit of making the bed right away, and then once this primary habit is established, progress to waiting 30 minutes until making the bed.

Prioritizing Adherence

Consider adherence—finding something you can stick with. The best training plan for an elite runner may overwhelm a beginning runner. The “best” SAD lamp for treating depression won’t do a thing if it looks ugly and you keep it in the closet. The therapist who claims the best results won’t do much for you if it’s a bad relationship. Pay attention to what you—the real you, not what you think of your ideal you—will do consistently.

Matching Techniques/Products to Skill Level

It is essential to consider the level of skill needed to effectively use “the best.” The best surfboard for a pro surfer is going to be impossibly difficult to use for a beginner. An anxiety-reduction technique called a “Body Scan” is going to be difficult without some practice with Diaphragmatic Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and Passive Muscle Relaxation. Practice awareness of your skill level and try to be specific with your research so that you can maximize your success.

Researching for Purpose and Impact

Though it’s tempting to spend countless hours researching the “best” options, it is crucial to consider the value of your time and the impact of your findings. Sometimes the difference between “the best” and the average is small. Taking six hours to research the best performing paper clip probably won’t improve your life. This may seem an exaggeration…but we all do strange things.[3]


In summary: for psychotherapy patients (or anyone else), blindly following expert reviews and opinions can actually hinder your progress. Instead, seek out the best match (a) to your goals, (b) to what you will actually adhere, (c) to your skill level, and (d) with attention to how much difference finding the best will actually make.

*A quick note: When it comes to therapeutic goals, online advice is often difficult to match for yourself. Some things are almost universally beneficial: strong social ties, exercise, some time spent outdoors and in the sun, practicing meditation are some examples. Yet even these are not recommended for everyone in the same way, so consulting with a professional is generally the way to see the best results.


[1] Kind of like this blog, I suppose. [2] Reasons Not to Make Your Bed [3] In contrast, folks often take too little time considering their life partner, their career, their friendships, their retirement, and meditating on questions of death and life’s purpose.

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