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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yalom's notes to therapists
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...
Published on September 14, 2011 by Aclu

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99 of 116 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book, but With Some Problems
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...
Published on November 24, 2009 by Elisa 20


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99 of 116 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book, but With Some Problems, November 24, 2009
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
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. Where there was conflict between what he felt and what they felt, the solution was often to focus on how they were thinking and feeling erotically and/or emotionally about him. When a patient describes how she bonded with her husband when they jointly laughed at something she quoted Yalom saying, he resents the shared jokes about him with her husband, and reminds her that the three of them are in a relationship "triangle".

At least in this retelling, its unclear that this intense emotional intimacy with patients is genuinely best for the patient.

I'm not saying there's any sexual misconduct. In fact, Yalom clearly says that a therapist should never, ever become sexually involved with a patient as it is "a serious betrayal and does great harm to both". He is unequivocal about this and says it is better to even see a prostitute than violate the patient's trust. Nevertheless, putting an outright physical relationship aside, I do feel his methods/remarks as he describes them here, often seem very "seductive" in the broader sense, especially as so many women seek treatment with him for their relationship issues (including loneliness, marital and sexual problems, and low self-esteem).

Its possible that being on first-name basis with a therapist who routinely discloses himself and his personal feelings about you--and who says and shows that he cares about you personally--may be therapeudic. But as recounted in this book it sometimes seems ...a potentially inappropriate pattern with female patients. (I'm also interested that his bi-monthly "leaderless" support group that has met for years consists of 11 psychologists/psychiatrists--ALL of whom are men. Ironic, given his intimate and seductive approach to female patients in therapy, how that "missing" female psychiatrist regularly might be just the right person to offer HIM feedback).

Yalom does quote a renowned psychotherapist who bluntly questions his methods, saying, "Doesn't the intense personal intimacy you have with patients interfere with their ability to terminate treatment?" A great question, and one that, imo, he should have worrying about a great deal more than he shows here.

Anyway, I liked the idea that an emotionally engaged therapist can help a patient more than a distant one. He tells a good story, the short chapters are a bit brave style-wise and serve the reader well. I liked how he revisited Freud in a positive way, reminding us of the historical context of his insights and achievement.

I recommend this book, but with a discussion group. Otherwise, it leaves too many questions about the advisability of intentionally building relationships of intense intimacy and dependency with patients. Alone, it left me with too many unresolved questions and criticisms. As the focal point of group/class discussion, however, it would be perfect.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yalom's notes to therapists, September 14, 2011
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly inspired stuff!, September 2, 2011
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Paul Voorhies (New Orleans, LA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Guide for Young Therapists, February 25, 2010
By 
A. Chou (Orange County, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for new professionals in the field, December 28, 2013
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gift of Therapy, October 8, 2011
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
An uplifting and insightful read. Great to be able to 'make contact' with someone as well-respected as Yalom. He touches the very centre of our being.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent source for beginning therapists, May 28, 2011
By 
Kevin Cook (Queensbury, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have, December 15, 2013
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
Easy, practical read for all therapists.....little insights that have big impacts. Yalom is a master, without the god complex...a great book to refer to when therapizing gets too much .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Advice to the New Therapist, May 29, 2011
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
I have found this book to be a valuable resource for learning about common concerns that a new therapist would have. Yalom's book provides helpful insight to becoming a better therapist from decades of his learning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Therapy Unwrapped, January 9, 2011
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This review is from: The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback)
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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The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
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