THE GIFT OF THERAPY: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

Irvin D. Yalom, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-621440-5

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 protégé 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. (Jan.)

Forecast:Yalom has explored many of these ideas before. His followers will certainly be charmed, and newcomers—patients as much as therapists—may be won over by his openness and tender tone.

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 12/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 307 pages - 978-0-7499-2373-0
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