maybe you should talk to someone

Review From User :

If you've followed me here on Goodreads for any length of time, you probably know that I am incredibly passionate about mental health advocacy. It's something that we need to talk about more, so we can break down the stigma surrounding it and more people can pursue help. So it should not be a surprise that I was excited to read a memoir about a therapist pursuing therapy to help her deal with her own issues-or that I absolutely loved the book.

These days, I'm pretty open about the fact that I see a therapist and I love it. I have (only semi) jokingly said many times that I think everyone should give it a try at least twice-go to the initial intake appointment then go at least once more to get a feel for it. Even if you don't think you have a diagnosable condition such as anxiety or depression, just talking out your challenges and breaking down your less-than-great behavioral patterns with an unbiased third party can be an eye-opening experience. It's taken me a long while to get to the point where I feel comfortable talking about it with others, and I appreciate anything, like this book, that will help more people talk about the process.

Lori Gottlieb pursued a career as a therapist relatively late in life. She started out as a TV writer, but her time on ER spurred her to more seriously think about a medical career. She worked as a freelance writer while attending medical school and gradually began to feel pulled in too many different directions. It was the "helping people" part of medicine that most strongly interested her, so an advisor suggested that she switch from and MD to a PhD in psychotherapy.

And yet, she hadn't really been in therapy herself, outside of the practice sessions she was required to do as part of her training. So when her fiancee ends their relationship out of the blue and she finds that she has trouble processing her emotions about the situation, Gottlieb decides to seek out some professional help. Using some clandestine methods, she asks a friend for a recommendation and begins seeing Wendell, a therapist to whom she has no professional or personal connections (a surprising challenge!)

Gottlieb starts out thinking that she just needs a couple of sessions to get over this hump, as it were, but her conversations with Wendell make her see that she could actually use more help than she realized. It's a jarring realization, but it's also one that seems to make her a better therapist as it makes more clear the struggle some of her patients have in connecting the dots between their pasts and their presents, their problematic behaviors and the painful consequences, and being honest about things that don't put themselves in the best light.

The memoir is divided between recounting Gottlieb's sessions with Wendell, her sessions with her own patients (specific details of which I have to believe have been heavily obscured), and a little bit about her path toward becoming a therapist and single mother. The result is an incredibly open and honest look at the therapy process that lays it out better than any other depiction of therapy I've ever read-Gottlieb makes it clear that your therapist is not there to tell you what to do but to help you recognize how your own patterns might be causing you unnecessary pain, but she's also honest in showing how hard it is to recognize not-so-flattering sides of ourselves and how deeply ingrained our those patterns can be. She's deeply empathetic, even when her patients frustrate her. She seems deeply committed to learning how to be better as a therapist and a patient.

I even spent a good chunk of a session talking about this book with my own therapist, partly because I knew it was something she'd enjoy reading and I can never not recommend a book to anyone when I think they'd enjoy it, but also because reflecting on Gottlieb's experiences genuinely helped me have a breakthrough about some of the work that I've been doing for the last couple of years. This is a great memoir and I highly recommend it to all readers.


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