Letters to a Young Therapist: Stories of Hope and Healing

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Overview

Mary Pipher's groundbreaking investigation of America's "girl-poisoning culture," Reviving Ophelia, has sold nearly two million copies and established its author as one of the nation's foremost authorities on family issues. In Letters to a Young Therapist, Dr. Pipher shares what she has learned in thirty years as a therapist, helping warring families, alienated adolescents, and harried professionals restore peace and beauty to their lives. Letters to a Young Therapist gives voice to her practice with an exhilarating mix of storytelling and sharp-eyed observation. And while her letters are addressed to an imagined young therapist, every one of us can take something away from them. Long before "positive psychology" became a buzzword, Dr. Pipher practiced a refreshingly inventive therapy--fiercely optimistic, free of dogma or psychobabble, and laced with generous warmth and practical common sense. But not until now has this gifted healer described her unique perspective on how therapy can help us revitalize our emotional landscape in an increasingly stressful world. 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, Dr. Pipher's compassion and insight shine from every page of this thoughtful and engaging book.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465057665
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 7/19/2003
  • Pages: 181
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Pipher

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.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Breadcrumbs 3
Virtues 11
Mother Nature Delivers 19
Family Bashing 25
Deepening Therapy 33
Connecting the Dots 41
Pain 51
Happiness 57
Metaphor 63
Endurance 69
Self-Care 73
Medication 79
Dating 85
Marriage 95
Helping Ophelia's Family 103
Intentionality 113
Emotional Weather 119
Swimming 123
Danger 127
Therapy and Writing 133
Ethics 141
Story Doctors 147
Resistance 153
Failures 159
Healing Solutions from All Over the World 165
Yearning 169
Things Are Becoming Something Else 175
About the Author 181
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2004

    INCREDIBLE book for therapists and curious readers alike!

    I absolutely loved Pipher's 'Reviving Ophelia', so when I saw 'Letters to a Young Therapist' at my college bookstore, I immediatly checked it out at the local library. The book is just amazing. The case studies are so interesting, but they are presented in a down-to-earth way. There is no psychological lingo. The whole book is in the form of letters written to Pipher's favorite graduate student. The quotes that Pipher uses are outstanding.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    A must for any psychology major or therapist

    I was assigned to read this for my Counseling Theory class in college. This is an easy read, so teens can also read this if they are interested. Pipher is a true artist with storytelling and makes her advice/ideas connect to the reader. She gives a variety of ideas concerning the harms of media, the healing of nature and disconnecting from our busy lives, ethics, how to handle all types of clients,etc. While providing advice, she does this with examples in her storytelling and since this is a book of compiled letters to a dear student ofhers, she relates topics to her life, the student's life, and current events. She helped me feel more assured in my career choice and I feel as if the book caters to being my personal mentor. I feel more equipped in preparation for counseling others. Pipher has become a mentor to me and has since became one of my favorite psychologists and authors.

    She has a Facebook page- like her page. I left her a comment about how she has impacted my career choice and she messaged back! She is very sweet. With this book, I felt as though I was talking to an old friend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2004

    This is a classic.

    A highlight in my life was meeting Mary Pipher at a lecture in Pasadena several years ago. She spoke the simple truth of how our society has turned into a 'hotel society' (where the doors go slam-click, and no one ventures outside to meet their neighbors anymore) instead of the 'communtiy society' that she grew up with in the 50's, where directions were given by whose farm you drove by, etc. and your neighbors would report to your parents if they knew you were misbehaving. There was a sense of a 'village' that cared about their youth. I can tell you that this lady is 100% authentic, full of love and optimism in the human race. There is something about being around her, or reading her books, that engenders acceptance, grace, and a certain warmth, and that extends to all people she meets. She inspires us to try living in a more connected way with others. Reading this book underscores our complexity as humans, the need for acceptance of our human foibles, and that most are truly doing the best we can, in a society that never slows down. Please read this book to restore your faith in the goodness in people, and the healing which occurs in relationship to others, never in a vacuum.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2003

    Fabulous! A must-read instruction guide for living.

    This book is not only fabulously written, but it is a beautiful web of stories offering hope and inspiration, tears and giggles and a guide-to-life. Pipher is an incredible woman. By honestly and wholeheartedly opening herself and revealing her vulnerabilities she helps many people. In this book she offers those widsoms to a young student whom she mentors. This book should be required reading for life on earth - it reminded me to smell flowers, enjoy birds flying overhead, give a hug and not be afraid to be honest, think of my own needs and to be open to change, love and life. All this is the basis for her being able to help others.

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    Posted March 19, 2012

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