The Gift of Therapy

I love Irvin Yalom. His wry and wise observations on the work of psychotherapy, and by extension, the work of being human, are entertaining, moving and enlightening, and at the age of nearly ninety, he is still going strong. The Gift of Therapy is structured as a book of tips for therapists, but it makes interesting and educational reading for the lay person, too. There are 85 tips, each explored in very short chapters, most less than three pages long. Some examples: Avoid Diagnosis (Except for Insurance Companies); The Here-and-Now: Use It, Use It, Use It; On Being Helped By Your Patient; Freud Was Not Always Wrong; Learn About the Patient's Life From Dreams.

Yalom draws freely from his decades of experience, admits his own mistakes, uses humour and surprises, and makes me long to have him as my own therapist. I abandoned a course of therapy more than twenty years ago (when Medicare paid for psychiatrists, but not psychologists), and reading this book has made me think about my (not entirely satisfactory) experience in a new light. Maybe I should have persisted -- I jumped ship before it had a chance to do me any good.

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