Acclaimed author and renowned psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom distills thirty-five years of psychotherapy wisdom into one brilliant volume.
The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom’s more than thirty-five years in clinical practice, The Gift of Therapy is a remarkable and essential guidebook that illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. The bestselling author of Love’s Executioner shares his uniquely fresh approach and the valuable insights he has gained—presented as eighty-five personal and provocative “tips for beginner therapists,” including:
•Let the patient matter to you
•Acknowledge your errors
•Create a new therapy for each patient
•Do home visits
•(Almost) never make decisions for the patient
•Freud was not always wrong
A book aimed at enriching the therapeutic process for a new generation of patients and counselors, Yalom’s Gift of Therapy is an entertaining, informative, and insightful read for anyone with an interest in the subject.
About the Author
Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., is the author of Love's Executioner, Momma and the Meaning of Life, Lying on the Couch, The Schopenhauer Cure, When Nietzsche Wept, as well as several classic textbooks on psychotherapy, including The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, considered the foremost work on group therapy. The Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University, he divides his practice between Palo Alto, where he lives, and San Francisco, California.
Read an Excerpt
Remove the Obstacles to Growth
When I was finding my way as a young psychotherapy student, the most useful book I read was Karen Horney's Neurosis and Human Growth. And the single most useful concept in that book was the notion that the human being has an inbuilt propensity toward self-realization. If obstacles are removed, Horney believed, the individual will develop into a mature, fully realized adult, just as an acorn will develop into an oak tree.
"Just as an acorn develops into an oak..." What a wonderfully liberating and clarifying image! It forever changed my approach to psychotherapy by offering me a new vision of my work: My task was to remove obstacles blocking my patient's path. I did not have to do the entire job; I did not have to inspirit the patient with the desire to grow, with curiosity, will, zest for life, caring, loyalty, or any of the myriad of characteristics that make us fully human. No, what I had to do was to identify and remove obstacles. The rest would follow automatically, fueled by the self-actualizing forces within the patient.
I remember a young widow with, as she put it, a "failed heart" -- an inability ever to love again. It felt daunting to address the inability to love. I didn't know how to do that. But dedicating myself to identifying and uprooting her many blocks to loving? I could do that.
I soon learned that love felt treasonous to her. To love another was to betray her dead husband; it felt to her like pounding the final nails in her husband's coffin. To love another asdeeply as she did her husband (and she would settle for nothing less) meant that her love for her husband had been in some way insufficient or flawed. To love another would be self-destructive because loss, and the searing pain of loss, was inevitable. To love again felt irresponsible: she was evil and jinxed, and her kiss was the kiss of death.
We worked hard for many months to identify all these obstacles to her loving another man. For months we wrestled with each irrational obstacle in turn. But once that was done, the patient's internal processes took over: she met a man, she fell in love, she married again. I didn't have to teach her to search, to give, to cherish, to love -- I wouldn't have known how to do that.
A few words about Karen Horney: Her name is unfamiliar to most young therapists. Because the shelf life of eminent theorists in our field has grown so short, I shall, from time to time, lapse into reminiscence -- not merely for the sake of paying homage but to emphasize the point that our field has a long history of remarkably able contributors who have laid deep foundations for our therapy work today.
One uniquely American addition to psychodynamic theory is embodied in the "neo- Freudian" movement -- a group of clinicians and theorists who reacted against Freud's original focus on drive theory, that is, the notion that the developing individual is largely controlled by the unfolding and expression of inbuilt drives.
Instead, the neo-Freudians emphasized that we consider the vast influence of the interpersonal environment that envelops the individual and that, throughout life, shapes character structure. The best-known interpersonal theorists, Harry Stack Sullivan, Erich Fromm, and Karen Horney, have been so deeply integrated and assimilated into our therapy language and practice that we are all, without knowing it, neo-Freudians. One is reminded of Monsieur Jourdain in Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, who, upon learning the definition of "prose," exclaims with wonderment, "To think that all my life I've been speaking prose without knowing it."The Gift of Therapy. Copyright © by Irvin Yalom. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
|Chapter 1||Remove the Obstacles to Growth||1|
|Chapter 2||Avoid Diagnosis (Except for Insurance Companies)||4|
|Chapter 3||Therapist and Patient as "Fellow Travelers"||6|
|Chapter 4||Engage the Patient||11|
|Chapter 5||Be Supportive||13|
|Chapter 6||Empathy: Looking Out the Patient's Window||17|
|Chapter 7||Teach Empathy||23|
|Chapter 8||Let the Patient Matter to You||26|
|Chapter 9||Acknowledge Your Errors||30|
|Chapter 10||Create a New Therapy for Each Patient||33|
|Chapter 11||The Therapeutic Act, Not the Therapeutic Word||37|
|Chapter 12||Engage in Personal Therapy||40|
|Chapter 13||The Therapist Has Many Patients; The Patient, One Therapist||44|
|Chapter 14||The Here-and-Now--Use It, Use It, Use It||46|
|Chapter 15||Why Use the Here-and-Now?||47|
|Chapter 16||Using the Here-and-Now--Grow Rabbit Ears||49|
|Chapter 17||Search for Here-and-Now Equivalents||52|
|Chapter 18||Working Through Issues in the Here-and-Now||58|
|Chapter 19||The Here-and-Now Energizes Therapy||62|
|Chapter 20||Use Your Own Feelings as Data||65|
|Chapter 21||Frame Here-and-Now Comments Carefully||68|
|Chapter 22||All Is Grist for the Here-and-Now Mill||70|
|Chapter 23||Check into the Here-and-Now Each Hour||72|
|Chapter 24||What Lies Have You Told Me?||74|
|Chapter 25||Blank Screen? Forget It! Be Real||75|
|Chapter 26||Three Kinds of Therapist Self-Disclosure||83|
|Chapter 27||The Mechanism of Therapy--Be Transparent||84|
|Chapter 28||Revealing Here-and-Now Feelings--Use Discretion||87|
|Chapter 29||Revealing the Therapist's Personal Life--Use Caution||90|
|Chapter 30||Revealing Your Personal Life--Caveats||94|
|Chapter 31||Therapist Transparency and Universality||97|
|Chapter 32||Patients Will Resist Your Disclosure||99|
|Chapter 33||Avoid the Crooked Cure||102|
|Chapter 34||On Taking Patients Further Than You Have Gone||104|
|Chapter 35||On Being Helped by Your Patient||106|
|Chapter 36||Encourage Patient Self-Disclosure||109|
|Chapter 37||Feedback in Psychotherapy||112|
|Chapter 38||Provide Feedback Effectively and Gently||115|
|Chapter 39||Increase Receptiveness to Feedback by Using "Parts"||119|
|Chapter 40||Feedback: Strike When the Iron Is Cold||121|
|Chapter 41||Talk About Death||124|
|Chapter 42||Death and Life Enhancement||126|
|Chapter 43||How to Talk About Death||129|
|Chapter 44||Talk About Life Meaning||133|
|Chapter 46||Helping Patients Assume Responsibility||139|
|Chapter 47||Never (Almost Never) Make Decisions for the Patient||142|
|Chapter 48||Decisions: A Via Regia into Existential Bedrock||146|
|Chapter 49||Focus on Resistance to Decision||148|
|Chapter 50||Facilitating Awareness by Advice Giving||150|
|Chapter 51||Facilitating Decisions--Other Devices||155|
|Chapter 52||Conduct Therapy as a Continuous Session||158|
|Chapter 53||Take Notes of Each Session||160|
|Chapter 54||Encourage Self-Monitoring||162|
|Chapter 55||When Your Patient Weeps||164|
|Chapter 56||Give Yourself Time Between Patients||166|
|Chapter 57||Express Your Dilemmas Openly||168|
|Chapter 58||Do Home Visits||171|
|Chapter 59||Don't Take Explanation Too Seriously||174|
|Chapter 60||Therapy-Accelerating Devices||179|
|Chapter 61||Therapy as a Dress Rehearsal for Life||182|
|Chapter 62||Use the Initial Complaint as Leverage||184|
|Chapter 63||Don't Be Afraid of Touching Your Patient||187|
|Chapter 64||Never Be Sexual with Patients||191|
|Chapter 65||Look for Anniversary and Life-Stage Issues||195|
|Chapter 66||Never Ignore "Therapy Anxiety"||197|
|Chapter 67||Doctor, Take Away My Anxiety||200|
|Chapter 68||On Being Love's Executioner||201|
|Chapter 69||Taking a History||206|
|Chapter 70||A History of the Patient's Daily Schedule||208|
|Chapter 71||How Is the Patient's Life Peopled?||210|
|Chapter 72||Interview the Significant Other||211|
|Chapter 73||Explore Previous Therapy||213|
|Chapter 74||Sharing the Shade of the Shadow||215|
|Chapter 75||Freud Was Not Always Wrong||217|
|Chapter 76||CBT Is Not What It's Cracked Up to Be ... Or, Don't Be Afraid of the EVT Boogeyman||222|
|Chapter 77||Dreams--Use Them, Use Them, Use Them||225|
|Chapter 78||Full Interpretation of a Dream? Forget It!||227|
|Chapter 79||Use Dreams Pragmatically: Pillage and Loot||228|
|Chapter 80||Master Some Dream Navigational Skills||235|
|Chapter 81||Learn About the Patient's Life from Dreams||238|
|Chapter 82||Pay Attention to the First Dream||243|
|Chapter 83||Attend Carefully to Dreams About the Therapist||246|
|Chapter 84||Beware the Occupational Hazards||251|
|Chapter 85||Cherish the Occupational Privileges||256|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am currently in graduate school and plan on working as a counselor once I've finished. I have found this book informative and enjoyable to read. The insights are shared in a way that is unique from other books, since this one doesn't follow a typical textbook format. Highly recommended.
I am a fan of Yalom and this book did not disappoint! As a psychologist in private practice, I enjoyed reading and learning from this master therapist. As a teacher, I found the brief chapters easy to read and accessible to students and practitioners of all levels.
This book is great. I am a student currently studying psychology and found this to be very helpful in teaching me more about the events that go on in a therapists office that you can not find in a textbook.
I'm a therapist and I recommend this book to all my colleagues - seasoned therapists and trainees alike.
How could I, a lowly counseling psychology masters student, ever provide negative feedback to the most awesome Irv Yalom?! In fact, this may be one of the single most important books I have ever read in the history of my masters degree on the subject of actually being in the room with a client. It is at once funny, touching, deeply personal, and most importantly, very educational. This book comes with my highest recommendation.
This book has been refreshing to read. The format is conversational, almost as though Yalom is talking out his thoughts to the reader. Yalom is clear to state that the points made are his opinion but I find that his techniques do not always disagree with other therapy orientations...overall, The Gift of Therapy is a very good book to have in one's therapist library, to read over and over.
Yalom is incredibly insightful. I like the format; it made for quick and easy reading to have each topic labeled so clearly.
Although THE GIFT OF THERAPY is written primarily for therapists and their patients, it offers a gift as well to those who are not currently in therapy--or who have never been. Many of the "tips"--85 in all--give advice about how to establish a caring, supportive, empathetic relationship, the heart of therapy according to Yalom. But is this not the heart of any meaninful relationship, whether with friend, lover, child, or even close business associate? This book distills the experience of decades of doing therapy, both individual and group, in jargon-free language (remember Yalom is also a novelist), but it also calls on the wisdom of a tradition that includes Freud and Jung, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, and contemporary therapists as well. I just reread GIFT OF THERAPY after six months, and was happily surprised at how often I had called upon the ideas in the book to enhance and deepen my everyday relationships
I much preferred Dreams: Gateway to the True Self. It just had more depth and insight to the questions we really want answered.
My first Yalom book, and it's clear that he writes with great insight from many years of experience. The advice in here - a series of letters and notes to Clients and therapists alike - are rooted in a profound understanding of the relationship between two people in a room, one of whom is seeking 'answers', the other seeking to help. Practical and engaging.