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The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients Paperback – May 12, 2009
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“An absorbing guide” (Boston Globe)
About the Author
Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., is the author of Love's Executioner, Momma and the Meaning of Life, Lying on the Couch, The Schopenhauer Cure, When Nietzsche Wept, as well as several classic textbooks on psychotherapy, including The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, considered the foremost work on group therapy. The Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University, he divides his practice between Palo Alto, where he lives, and San Francisco, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
But it left me with questions for the author (and some serious reservations)--never a good feeling at the end of a book.
On the one hand, I appreciate that his training was to remain distant from patients where, as he described it, even helping an elderly woman put on a coat would be frowned on. I appreciate that, through experience with real-life patients, he realized the importance of establishing warmth, an interpersonal connection, a -human- relationship with patients rather than a distant "psychiatrist-as-remote-God-like" figure.
However, reading many of the chapters here, I couldn't help but think some of the therapy methods he describes could be too intimate and too seductive with his patients. I kept feeling that it would be very easy to act like this and wind up crossing the line--or being misunderstood--in a therapy setting. Sexual attraction (and, as he says, even unconsummated love that is mutually felt) is a recurrent theme in so many stories he shares from his practice.
There seemed to me to be much too much emphasis on talking about the therapist-patient relationship each week. Dr. Yalom writes, over and over, that he realizes he is far more important to his patients, personally, than they are to him. And yet he also seemed to intentionally intensify their feelings for him in the course of therapy, giving example after example of how he pushed them to share dreams about him, fantasies about him, etc.Read more ›
I do have some problems with the blurred boundaries that Yalom tends to navigate and I am not sure that young therapists (or even seasoned therapists) would have his discernment when it comes to issues such as sexual transference and patient dependence.
Overall, it is a good read as it is written well. I would recommend this book to inspire you if you're feeling stuck as a young therapist or if you've found yourself losing the passion you once had as a therapist.
Yet this wonderful little book is different. A highly individualized look at what therapists do, The Gift of Therapy is a clear and unburdened look into a world that is so misunderstood and often parodied in our society.
This is the third copy I have purchased. I give it to others. As a practitioner, I find this look at therapy to be extremely useful to help clients and administrative people in my circle to better understand the reality of the work. In particular, those non-clinical people around me who need to wrestle with the realities of fund raising, receiving fair compensation from insurance companies and other such unpleasant tasks are amazed to see the difference between what happens in their work and the atmosphere that needs to be created in the therapy space in order to allow the process to work. In addition, anyone looking for a therapist or in therapy could use this to help guide them in their selection process and in the work itself.
I recommend this book highly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The BEST book for early career therapists. Makes a great gift for supervisees finishing their internship or fellowship.Published 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
I am an old psychiatrist. I have been doing psychotherapy for 40 years.
I treat anxiety and depression and often see couples struggling with
the complexity of living... Read more
Needed this book for class---wonderful, thoughtful writer and definitely informative regarding the world of therapy! Read morePublished 2 months ago by CoCo
Assigned for a class, I love this book. Yalom does talk about himself a lot, but he's very knowledgeable about the field.Published 2 months ago by Katherynn