Tuesday, January 5, 2016

#CBR8 Review #01: The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom

“An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients”

I would have liked to start CBR8 off with something more enjoyable rather than a required reading for school, but alas! Duty calls and all that. And to be honest, this wasn’t the driest or most difficult reading I’ve had to do for school: in fact it went by easily and was filled with some quite good ideas and tips that will hopefully stick with me as I come up to starting my first art therapy practicum at the end of the month (YEEP!). Yet, some of these tips I do wish Irvin Yalom would have expanded on: yes, I am in this field of study, but I feel like there were some assumptions being made as to what the reader would and would not understand, which unfortunately left me a little fuzzy or feeling like things were a bit vague at times. Though of course, nothing is ever concrete in a therapy session in terms of what to say and how it will go with people, so you need to just learn as you go.

Essentially, The Gift of Therapy is a compilation of 85 “tips” or suggestions for psychotherapists to utilize in practice, as based on Yalom’s extensive career in the field. They are presented in a way that is both brief, but long enough so as not to drag along. Some of the tips presented are no-brainers, but some I never really would have thought about until in the moment, and it seems like it would be helpful to maybe have a heads up about certain things.

I did, however, find that sometimes when Yalom would recount examples of conversations with clients, the conversation would read in a very stiff way. I understand that he was trying to really highlight the responses and suggestions for how to deal with certain topics, etc, but they seemed very inorganic and almost inauthentic. And I mean, how do I know that this isn’t really how the conversation went? Maybe it did! Yalom clearly has a great deal of experience and can come up with some great responses and deal with most situations effectively, to the point where reading some of them I wonder if I will even be able to come close to responding to certain issues and statements in such useful or insightful ways. Kind of hard to imagine at this point, to be honest.

Overall, this book has some good tips and ideas in it. Will I use all of them? Maybe not, as I don’t know how comfortable I am at this point with some stuff in the world of therapy, being as inexperienced as I am right now. But perhaps in time. The other question, however, is would I read this book unless I was required to or wanting to get into this field? Probably not. But as I kind of mentioned before, it is not the worst thing I’ve ever had to read by a long shot.  

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

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