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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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The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients + Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy + Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061719617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061719615
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Yalom’s] wise ideas are perfectly accessible.” (Publishers Weekly)

“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.


More About the Author

Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University. Author of nonfiction psychiatry texts, novels, and books of stories. Currently in private practice of psychiatry in Palo Alto and San Francisco, California.

Customer Reviews

The book is very easy to read and understand.
Amazon Customer
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.
Monoposto
Overall, I highly recommend this book to budding clinicians.
Kevin Cook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Elisa 20 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 24, 2009
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Dr. Yalom is a good writer and offers a unique perspective here on his decades of work in psychotherapy. It's definitely thought-provoking reading, and very easy to follow.

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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Aclu on September 14, 2011
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This book I have to say is helpful and for clinicians it is a good review of what to expect in therapy. Although I don't fully agree with all of his recommendations, I think he does a wonderful job of providing his experiences as a clincian and sheds light on incredibly important and often forgotten areas of individual and group therapy. I will continue to use it as a resource for my own work!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amy B on December 28, 2013
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I am a fan of Yalom to begin with so I am partly biased, but this book does a great job of giving the reader many different cases and the story of how Yalom deals with them. Each chapter is a story and in that story, is the history of 1 case. The chapter has a beginning, middle and end. This book serves the purpose of showing the audience how one professional in the field deals with each case as well as his own experience (both internal and external) of the people he sees. A must have if you ask me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Chou on February 25, 2010
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Yalom delivers another good read through The Gift of Therapy. The best part about Yalom's books is that he gives us great examples from actual patients and then offers his own thought process so that we can learn. The biggest thing to pull from this book is his insight into the "here and now" though his group therapy book does a much better job of instructing us how to do so. There are some practical tips in the book but it is mostly inspirational than instructional.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Voorhies on September 2, 2011
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There is no greater review than to say that it, along with Love's Executioner, made me a better, more inspired therapist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Cook on May 28, 2011
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Yalom's book is one of the best I've seen for the beginning therapist. It covers some of the most important aspects of the therapeutic process that aren't covered in many graduate courses. Moreover, his book is broken down into bite sized chapters of only a 2-5 pages each, making it easy to take it out and go through a couple chapters. Too often, books like this have chapters that go on for 30 or 40 pages, which doesn't make it easy for the reader to reflect on the points made with their own clinical experiences, because too many factors have been discussed. While there is some bias that leaks into Yalom's book from his own training and emphasis on Group and Existential Psychotherapy, many of those chapters still have useful tools that are not shared by other approaches. If individuals do appreciate the style, I highly recommend his text Existential Psychotherapy. Overall, I highly recommend this book to budding clinicians.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Monoposto on January 9, 2011
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For anyone who has earned any sort of therapeutic degree, Dr. Yalom is known. In particular, he is the "guru" of group therapy, having written what is the standard textbook and reference on group therapy.

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.
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