Have compassion, have compassion, have compassion. I repeat my mantra, then refocus on John … and just then, something occurs to me: what John has been talking about sounds eerily familiar.
As a therapist, Lori knows a lot about pain, about the ways in which pain is tied to loss, and how change and loss travel together. She knows how affirming it feels to blame the outside world for her frustrations, to deny ownership of whatever role she might have in the existential play called My Incredibly Important Life. When a devastating event takes place in Lori’s life, she realises that, before being able to help her patients, she must first learn how to help herself.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is the story of an incredible relationship — between Lori, a therapist at a critical life juncture, and her own therapist, Wendell, a veteran therapist with an unconventional style. Through their sessions, Wendell teaches Lori how to become a better person and a better therapist, as she goes about the business of helping her own patients — the couple who are struggling after having a baby, the narcissist TV producer, the older woman who feels she has nothing to live for, the self-destructive alcoholic young woman, the terminally ill 35-year-old newlywed.
Taking place over one year, beginning with the devastating event that lands her in Wendell’s office, this is a rare and candid insight into a profession conventionally bound with rules and secrecy, told with charm and compassion, vulnerability and humour.
Gottlieb (Marry Him) provides a sparkling and sometimes moving account of her work as a psychotherapist, with the twist that she is in therapy herself. Interspersing chapters about her experiences as a patient with others about her work, she explains, "We are mirrors reflecting mirrors reflecting mirrors, showing one another what we can't yet see." By exploring her own struggles alongside those of her patients, Gottlieb simultaneously illuminates what it's like to be in and to give therapy. As she observes, "Everything we therapists do or say or feel as we sit with our patients is mediated by our histories; everything I've experienced will influence how I am in any given session at any given hour." From "John," a successful TV producer who has walled himself away from other people, to "Julie," who has a terminal illness and is struggling to find her way through her life's closing chapters, Gottlieb portrays her patients, as well as herself as a patient, with compassion, humor, and grace. For someone considering but hesitant to enter therapy, Gottlieb's thoughtful and compassionate work will calm anxieties about the process; for experienced therapists, it will provide an abundance of insights into their own work.