Letters to a Young Therapist

Letters to a Young Therapist

5.0 7
by Mary Pipher

View All Available Formats & Editions

Mary Pipher’s groundbreaking investigation of America’s “girl-poisoning culture,” Reviving Ophelia, established its author as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on family issues. In Letters to a Young Therapist, Pipher shares what she has learned in thirty years of clinical practice, helping warring


Mary Pipher’s groundbreaking investigation of America’s “girl-poisoning culture,” Reviving Ophelia, established its author as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on family issues. In Letters to a Young Therapist, Pipher shares what she has learned in thirty years of clinical practice, helping warring families, alienated adolescents, and harried professionals restore peace and beauty to their lives. Through an exhilarating mix of storytelling and sharp-eyed observation, Pipher reveals her refreshingly inventive approach to therapy—fiercely optimistic, free of dogma or psychobabble, and laced with generous warmth and practical common sense. Whether she’s recommending daily swims for a sluggish teenager, encouraging a timid husband to become bolder, or simply bearing witness to a bereaved parent’s sorrow, Pipher’s compassion and insight shine from every page. Newly updated with a preface by the author addressing the changes in therapy over the last decade and the surprising challenges of the digital age, Letters to a Young Therapist is a powerfully engaging guide to living a healthy life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Most people find talking to God more satisfying than talking to Freud," says Pipher, whether they believe in God or not. For fans of the bestselling Reviving Ophelia, such perfectly pitched, patient-centered observations will seem familiar and most welcome; for first-timers, Pipher invites readers: "Make some peach tea and find a cat for your lap. Let's visit." Even the most cynical psych snob will find that visit-a series of seasonally themed letters to a fictional graduate student describing psychotherapy from the inside out-refreshing, informative and insightful. In the brief time it takes to read this slim volume, the rhythms of blather and breakthrough, resistance and revelation come through clearly. Pipher also talks readers into becoming their own therapists, and good ones at that; her epistolary persona is one of a sympathetic woman but not a fuzzy emotional thinker. She admits "All families are a little crazy, but that's because all humans are a little crazy" and "Some therapy is just plain plodding," but she also includes many anecdotes that illuminate how a well-crafted metaphor, moment of quiet or carefully timed suggestion can change a life forever. Her view of therapists as storytellers is borne out in direct, engaging prose and succinct observation. To take just one example, Pipher notes that women see apologizing as saying, "I am sorry I hurt your feelings or caused you pain." Men see it as "I am eating shit." That's Mars and Venus in two sentences, and there's plenty more. The well-known perils of the profession emerge freshly, but also its profound rewards. 7-city author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A long-time psychotherapist mingles reassuring tips for a newcomer to the field with personal recollections of her own successes and failures. Employing the same format as other volumes in this series (Todd Gitlin’s Letters to a Young Activist, p. 205, etc.), Pipher (Reviving Ophelia, 1994, etc.) writes letters to Laura, a young graduate student, setting forth some of her views on what therapy is all about and how good therapists do their work. The letters are grouped into seasons and date from early December 2001 to late November 2002. The winter correspondence discourses on the characteristics of good therapists, conducting family therapy, and helping clients connect surface complaints with deeper issues. Spring takes the author into the subjects of how to help patients deal with pain and achieve happiness, the use of metaphors as therapeutic devices, and the role of antidepressants in therapy. Pipher considers family therapy in more detail in the summer letters, which also take up the problem of the therapist’s personal safety. In the fall, she turns to ethical issues facing therapists, how storytelling can help clients see themselves in more positive ways, how to recognize and deflect patients’ resistance, and how to deal with failure. Ruefully recounting some of her own missteps and bad judgments, Pipher reminds her student that therapists are human and errors are inevitable. Throughout, she eschews psychological jargon and takes a commonsensical approach to the vicissitudes of living. As she puts it in describing her own sessions with clients, "I do bread-and-butter work": she often suggests getting a good night’s sleep, going for a swim, or taking a walk. Although Pipher definesthe therapist’s job as clarifying issues and presenting choices rather than telling people what to do, giving advice seems to be second nature to her. Fortunately, the advice appears to be well considered and benign. Agent: Susan Cohen/Riverside Agency

Product Details

Basic Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Second Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Mary Pipher has explored the influence of culture on mental health in five books, including the best sellers The Shelter of Each Other, Another Country, and the landmark Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, which spent 154 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and has been translated into nineteen languages. Her most recent book, The Middle of Everywhere: The World's Refugees Come to Our Town (Harcourt, 2002), explores the effects of globalization on American society. Dr. Pipher has traveled all over the world lecturing to students, health care professionals and community groups. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >