- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Seal Press (September 13, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1580056245
- ISBN-13: 978-1580056243
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How Does That Make You Feel?: True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch Paperback – September 13, 2016
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Judith Sills, author of The Comfort Trap
"This book is as engrossing and illuminating as a volume of good short stories. It explores the hidden, fascinating nooks, crannies, and complications of the complex relationship between therapist and patient, a subject that turns out to be endlessly fascinating. One feels the presence of Amatenstein's humane, sensitive, and experienced hand in a collection that is wide-ranging and comprehensive in it's range of issues. Many talented writers on view. Many thought-provoking moments. You don't have to have been on the couch to enjoy this book. All that is necessary is an interest in people and the struggles of modern life.”
George Hodgman, bestselling author of Bettyville
"These searingly honest essays brilliantly capture the uniquely complicated relationships that therapists and patients share in the course of trying to navigate our lives. If you've ever revealed your most private hopes, dreams, fears, and longings with a stranger in a high-backed chairor been that stranger in a high-backed chairyou'll be so engrossed by these stories that you may end up skipping your session.”
Lori Gottleib, bestselling author of Marry Him
"With rapier wit and a big dose of humanity, Sherry Amatenstein and the amazing writers she has assembled ask us to look at ourselves. And I think we’ll be better for it.”
Jenny Lumet, actress and award-winning screenwriter of Rachel Getting Married
"How Does That Make You Feel is an eye-opening look at therapy. With essays ranging from the profoundly emotional to the downright hilarious, we can all learn something about a relationship so many of us hold dear, that between a therapist and their patient. Invaluable insight that will undoubtedly foster better understanding all around."
As a person who's been through therapyand both loved, and hated, and then loved and hated it againthis book speaks to the experience on the couch unlike anything I've ever read, and reading it has given me not only a better understanding of the therapeutic process, but also a better understanding of myself.”
Kevin McEnroe, author of Our Town
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
by Megan Devine
I wanted to be a therapist right up until the day I became one.
My very first day on the job, listening to an addict tell me about her abusive boyfriend, I should have quit. I went to my supervisor in tears, overwhelmed with my client’s pain, with all the problems she brought to the room. My supervisor comforted me: It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be a great therapist.”
What if I don’t want to be? I’m not the right one for this job.”
But I stayed.
He sat on my couch, as he’d done every week for over a year. Licking his lips, which were dry from all the medication he was on. Fidgeting. Eyes shifting from side to side as he listed all the things going wrong in his life.
It was a long list.
He was too scattered to get the house cleaned, but the dirt depressed him. He couldn’t afford to be more depressed. He didn’t know how to talk to his son, but he got so worried about sounding stupid; that made it harder to talk. He rarely left the house most days. All those years of electro-shock therapy, plus the cocaine use it robbed him of the ability to feel, but he knew he felt bad.
There was just so much wrong.
I sat, listening, thinking: man. This poor guy needs a therapist. He really needs help.
It was several seconds before I realized: I am his therapist.
I am his therapist, and it’s my job to help.
I’m not the right one for this job.
The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remains convinced that they are frauds. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. They don’t believe they are right for the job, and no amount of success can convince them otherwise.”
This is what Google told me. Sitting at my desk after this session with my client, I definitely felt like a fraud. I was nowhere near skilled enough to help this man.
For the millionth time, I questioned my choice of profession:
Dear man on my couch, not only am I not able to help you, I don’t want to help. I don’t want to help you anymore. I’m out of my depth, even five years into this private practice thing. I can’t guide you through this, because not only do I not know how, I don’t want to know how. I no longer want to try.
I’m not an impostor; I’m just not the right one for this job.
But I stayed.
Even knowing what I knew that I did not want to be a therapist - I moved slowly, persecuting myself with questions about my motives, doubting my plans for the future, weighing the fact that I’d still have to pay my student loans against the fact that I hated the profession they paid for.
I might not have ever quit.
And then, one ordinary, fine summer day, I stood on a riverbank while a game warden told me they had found my partner’s body, about 60 yards downstream from where I had last seen him. It took hearing the words, I’m sorry but he’s passed,” for me to say the words, I quit.”
I quit at the riverbank.
I spent three years trying to be anything but a therapist. I worked on farms. I became a cheese-maker. I took informal vows of silence. I wrote, because I couldn’t stop writing. I ignored the people who suggested I turn back to my clinical work, help myself by helping others.
I resisted. I refused.
I quit at the river.
But I didn’t stay quit. I couldn’t stand the thought of all the widows, all the new people in pain, thrown into the wasteland that passed for grief support. I couldn’t let them call out for help and find nothing but vaguely passive-aggressive platitudes. I couldn’t let them bear their pain alone.
After three years in dairy barns, I returned to the counselor’s seat.
I spend my days now inside the intense pain of others. I listen, I counsel, I teach.
I love my work. It’s beautiful and useful and right.
And the truth is, I never feel the way I did that day with that client on the couch all those years ago. I never listen to the stories of the grieving and think, man, they need help. I never feel incompetent, just humbled. I know I am inadequate. I can’t fix this, I can’t fix any of the pain they’re in. I can’t do anything here. I know this. Which is why I’m good at my work.
I am the right person for this job, which is why impostor syndrome” doesn’t fit me anymore. I’m the right person for the job because I question everything. Because I know that nothing helps. Because I know. Because I’ve been on that floor, howling in pain. I’ve been on that floor, dragging myself hand over hand, convincing myself to stay alive, to not kill myself right there, not because I didn’t want to, but because I’d be pissed at myself if I messed it up. Because I wouldn’t want to make a mess someone else would have to clean up. I’ve been in that place.
I’m the right one for this job because I have hated the world and everyone in it while I stood, tears streaming down my face, in love with the world and everyone in it. I know that love is not enough, and that all the beautiful things in the world do not matter. Not one bit do they matter, and they never will, and still, they are everything, and I can’t survive without them.
I am the right one for the job because I know nothing helps. Because I lived it. Because I admit it every day. Because I show up for my clients and say, I am not an expert in this, and I’m here, and I’m with you. I’m here.
"Truly epic" - Laurell K. Hamilton Learn more
16 customer reviews
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I had various Psychiatrists and eventually a Psychologist in The San Francisco Bay Area who was my anchor for 20 years.. I grew because of it, and so did she....I should finish the book next week, and would be happy to give a more detailed review then...Thank You
There were several essays that stood out for me as what I hoped to find in the book : Laura Bogart's "My Shrink's Ultimatum", Jessicla Zucker's "The Pregnant Therapist", Molly Peacock's "Not Even a Smidgen", Alison McCarthy's "How About a Hug?", and Martha Crawford's "Back Into the Wild". These essays stand out as sensitive and bringing to the reader a sense of the complexities and depth of therapy for both therapist and patient. For the most part, the rest of them did not rise to that level.