THE GIFT OF THERAPY is the culmination of master psychiatrist Dr Irvin Yalom's thirty-five years' work as a therapist, illustrating through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. Presented as eighty-five 'tips' for 'beginner therapists', Yalom shares his own fresh approach and the insights he has gained while treating his patients. Personal, and sometimes provocative, Yalom makes some unorthodox suggestions, including: Let the patient matter to you; Acknowledge your errors; Create a new therapy for each patient; Make home visits; (Almost) never make decisions for a patient; and Freud was not always wrong.
This is an entertaining, informative and insightful read for both beginners and more experienced therapists, patients, students and everyone with an interest in the subject.
If the future of psychotherapy lies in psychopharmaceuticals and the short-term therapies stipulated by HMOs, argues Yalom, then the profession is in trouble. Yalom, the recipient of both major awards given by the American Psychiatric Association, professor emeritus of psychiatry at Stanford and the author of both fiction and nonfiction volumes about psychotherapy, writes this book in response to that crisis. Based on knowledge gained from his 35 years of practice, the resulting book of tips (a "gift" for the next generation of therapists) is an enlightening refutation of "brief, superficial, and insubstantial" forms of therapy. Yalom, who references Rilke and Nietzsche as well as Freud's prot g Karen Horney and the founder of client-centered therapy, Carl Rogers, describes therapy as "a genuine encounter with another person." He suggests that therapists avoid making DSM IV diagnoses (except for insurance purposes), since these "threaten the human, the spontaneous, the creative and uncertain nature of the therapeutic venture." He also encourages psychotherapists to use dream analysis, group therapy and, when appropriate, wholly inventive forms of treatment. Traditionalists will probably squirm at some of his suggestions (particularly "Revealing the Therapist's Personal Life" and "Don't Be Afraid of Touching Your Patient"). Other tips, though, such as "Never Be Sexual with Patients" are no-brainers. Although the book dies somewhat in the second half, and not much here is new, the wise ideas are perfectly accessible.