A bookshop in Lyme-Regis, United Kingdom, by Tom Belte
A review of Dr. Nicole LePera’s latest book, “How To Do The Work”
Dr. Nicole LePera is known as the Holistic Psychologist on Instagram and her new book “How To Do the Work” has gained a lot of popularity. “How To Do The Work” is promoted on Instagram and Facebook because of LePera’s large following in the self-care industry. However, the title of the book is enough to wonder if LePera has spun a long yarn about holistic psychology that panders to a targeted audience.
“How To Do the Work” wants to be taken seriously and is painfully self-aware. As the new kid on the holistic healing block in the billion-dollar self care industry, the book is kitsch. LePera’s approach to healing is marketed as different in her book while ticking off all of the boxes of traditional psychology practices and using the trendy buzz words that are reverberating throughout the social media echo chamber.
The book is an addendum to all of her Instagram posts on her approach to self-help and is vastly different from the approach of credited doctors and therapists. In the past, LePera has recommended that her followers do not seek a diagnosis for mental illness and “identifying with their disorder” because “the thoughts you have around diagnosis are the most powerful deciders between sickness and wellness.”
The only person this book is helping is LePera. Most of the information that is given throughout this book never lands because LePera has taken psychological facts and has paired them with her own interpretation and her own model for healing which is all non-evidence-based theories. Through these theories, she has created a #selfhealers movement that asks her followers to abandon psychological principles and treatments like the DSM-5 and diagnosing mental health issues.
“The main issue with clinical psychology is there is a lack of empowerment.” said LePera in an interview with Forbes “We are now showing people the power of choice, habit, and environment that they can change if they do the work.” But what is the work?
“How To Do the Work” is a little disorganized as far as what the actual work is. LePera spends most of each chapter recounting her own traumas and how her positive thoughts allowed her to heal herself. However, throughout the book vague and allusory attempts to define what the work actually comes across as tone-deaf. When LePera recounts her traumas as her source for healing it is apparent she has had different advantages in life than most people and very different traumatic experiences.
Traditional psychology is helpful because it gives patients a clear diagnosis for their own issues and not a one size fits all approach. Therapy can be a tailor-made experience designed for a person’s specific needs. Nicole LePera employs a millennial do-it-yourself, tailoring self-healing without clinical research. From the perspective of holistic psychology, a newer practice, LePera focuses solely on individuals healing themselves. But, if a person is new to self-healing, and doesn’t know “How To Do The Work” and they’ve been told to not seek traditional help, then whom else will they rely on? LePera.
LePera weens people off the medical side of psychology and into an unknown mental circus, LePera as its ringleader. At one point she tells a story about a cancer patient given three months to live. After this individual’s death, however, a doctor deems the original cancer diagnosis incorrect. “Is it possible this man died because he believed he was going to die?” Says LePera. She uses this story as an example of the power to heal or kill yourself with your own thoughts.
Moreover, the story of the man that died after the false diagnosis wasn’t a “nocebo” story, she claims it was a true story without any citation of the incident. LePera references multiple “nocebo” cases that were documented but doesn’t give specific details or names of the cases.
LePera is first and foremost a social media presence. She owns and operates her own holistic practice online, a $24/month subscription service called the SelfHealers Circle, which launched in November 2019. How To Do The Work is a stringy self-help book that lacks substance and entangles the reader with trite self-help vernacular and lures the reader to her community, online workshops and monthly subscriptions. If the self-care industry was the tech boom and Instagram Silicone Valley, LePera would be the Adam Neuman of WeWork.