A book about therapy, from a therapist who goes in therapy, too.
How difficult is sometimes to accept that we all need help? How strange is to ask for it when we are struggling?
These are just two simple questions that can open a box and be the beginning of an endless conversation. To be a therapist, in 2021, has still lots of difficulties especially because this job is still full of bias.
People don’t accept help, let’s start from this point, and when they do, they don’t want to accept that they need someone to let them cope with their situation. To accept this, they would have to go through lots of things, they would have to think that yes, therapy could be really what they need, but still is too much to worry about it.
Let’s start from the beginning, then.
If you are considering therapy, or if you are about to have your first therapy session, you may be nervous, skeptical, or downright frightened about starting. Most people have a natural fear of the unknown, which may be contributing to your feelings. Can I tell you a secret? That’s absolutely normal. I will tell you more: it’s expected, especially if it is your first time – but believe me, even if it is not.
You are going to be in a room with a stranger, after all, who will know a lot about you but you won’t know a lot about them. You will open your heart and mind but, obviously, he/she won’t do the same. You’re expected to spill your guts to a perfect stranger, trusting that they will get you, have empathy for you, and be able to help you cope with the difficult situation that brought you to therapy in the first place. On top of that, the things you are spilling about aren’t pretty, not to you anyway. They are things that make you sad, depressed, angry, afraid, or anxious. Often, these are things that you are ashamed and embarrassed to admit to yourself, much less tell someone else. But, the strangest thing of all is that it works.
So, what’s this book about?
Lori Gottlieb explores her patients’ inner demons — a young newlywed diagnosed with terminal cancer, an older woman who finds life meaningless and intends to commit suicide on her next birthday, a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a woman stuck in a cycle of alcoholism and damaging relationships — and simultaneously peers into her own psyche with Wendell, a middle-aged, cardigan-sporting psychotherapist.
She is a therapist but she is the first one who needs the therapy. And yes, this is how it works in our job, did you know that? We are human, too.
Gottlieb can be judgmental and obsessive, but she’s authentic, even raw, about herself and her patients. She also reveals the times during sessions when she found herself lost, when she didn’t know what to say and what to do, when she went back at her training moments when she was still learning – do we ever finish to learn? Some of the patients are sympathetic, others are tougher to like and to handle but they all need her, as much as she needs them.
At the end…
So, it’s normal to be nervous about therapy, but a good therapist will put you at ease so that even if it is difficult to tell your story, somehow you will feel better and more hopeful for having told it—perhaps even a little bit lighter than when you first came in.
And if you don’t know what to expect, this is the book you should read before doing anything else.