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The Gift Of Therapy: An open letter to a new generation of therapists and their patients: Reflections on Being a Therapist [Paperback]

Irvin D. Yalom
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Feb 2003 0749923733 978-0749923730 New Ed

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.

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The Gift Of Therapy: An open letter to a new generation of therapists and their patients: Reflections on Being a Therapist + Love's Executioner + Momma and the Meaning of Life: Tales of Psychotherapy
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Piatkus; New Ed edition (27 Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749923733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749923730
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Irvin Yalom is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University. He has won two major awards from the American Psychiatric Association. He continues to run his clinical practice and lectures widely.

Product Description


'Yalom writes with the narrative wit of O. Henry and the earthy humour of Isaac Bashevis Singer' San Francisco Chronicle

Book Description

This new edition includes over twenty additional pages of new therapy tips by the author reflecting on the major issues and changes he has seen in the world of therapy since he first wrote this book in 2002.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
'Gift'comprises a treasury of 85 tips gathered from Yalom's forty five years of psychotherapy experience. They're organised into four sections: the therapist-patient relationship; therapy content; issues arising from therapy; dreams; and the hazards and privileges of being a therapist.
But don't be mistaken this book of tips is in a different league from some-page-a-day-help-book-for-therapists. Remember this is the same man who has written books that scare potential readers at 20 paces with their size and titles (see The Theory and Practice of Group Therapy and Existential Psychotherapy). The stories are still there, thankfully, and so is the clarity. It is a gem of book that underlines many of the important qualities in the humanistic psychotherapy approach. Practical, inspiring and wise.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An uplifting and relaxing book 4 Oct 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this amongst a lot of work related text books, for my work as a metaphysician and therapist. I've found this invaluable and the insight into the author's work an absolute delight.

Beautifully written, in meaningful and free flowing language, this is an effortless read which really brings great ideas for one to one therapy.

I'd recommend it highly and am now on a mission to read everything by this author.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As always, Yalom's writing is immediately accessible and free from jargon. As is his thinking. What I most like about this book is his honesty; the fact that he sometimes goes overtime on sessions with clients; that he sometimes double-books his appointments; that he sometimes gets bored with clients. What I also like is what he suggests as creative ways to work with all of the above. This is the voice of an experienced therapist who has learned the 'rules' well, and can now play with them. I guess for therapists who are less well experienced, it may not be wise to become too idiosyncratic until we have the years of experience that Yalom does - but at least he keeps alive the awareness that therapy does not exist for the sake of the therapist or his/her school of training, but for the client. My favourite quote: "the difference between good mothers and bad mothers (and hence therapists) is not in the commission of errors, but in what they do with them".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, essential, essential. 7 Jun 2013
By B. Orr
Format:Kindle Edition
How much would I have appreciated this book at the start of my therapist training, instead of the garbage I was given on "randomised control trial proves this" and "evidence supports wholeheartedly this intervention". Was to find out later these statements were brainwashing - exaggerations at best, and downright lies at worse. This book describes so brilliantly why people are barking up the wrong tree, if they're saying things like this.

I'm an experienced therapist and psychologist now. This is the kind of book that as a therapist, you will read differently over time, and see new meanings in the same words, depending on your stage of training. I look forward to seeing ever more new meanings as I progress in future.

Irvin is one of the greatest therapeutic authors of our time, and that's not an exaggeration. Invest in this, and you invest in your patient's future.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an invaluable resource 1 Sep 2005
Well, after reading "Loves Executioner" I couldn't wait to get stuck into this one. A slightly different format this time, but a natural successor and designed to be exactly what it was - a treasure trove of hints and tips for counsellors and therapists. Yalom states at the outset that he drew up a list, words of advice that he wanted to impart, but upon finding that he had over 200, had to whittle it down to essential key issues. This he does well, using lots of mini-chapters and case histories to illustrate what might happen, how he dealt with it, how he and the clients benefitted and of course, the pitfalls that we may encounter. The advantage of his hindsight and experience provides us with a wonderful tutorial.
The chapters may sometimes only be a paragraph long, but they keep things nicely succint, grouped together in themes which helps the flow. Just as easy to read as "Loves Executioner", just as interesting, but much more useful for the trainee or novice counsellor. Im sure many of us have experienced situations that we felt might have been better handled - this book will give you ideas for future encounters. For me, it showed me where I may have gone wrong and how to remedy things should a similar situation occur in the future. I thoroughly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wise words from an old sage 2 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Such a refreshing read in these days of 'measured outcomes', 'quick-fix' therapies, and other such nonsense.
It is the spirit of therapy that shines through in these little musings and a therapist's voice, deeply personal, mellow and infused with the wisdom of experience; idiosyncratic to a degree and yet tempered (most of the time) with necessary humility.
Kevin Chandler: psychotherapist and novelist Listening in: A Novel of Therapy and Real Life
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable as well as informative 22 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book borne of experience rather than theory. What Irvin D Yalom does here is offer counsellors and psychotherapists the benefit of his own discoveries about what works. While he does make occasional reference to various schools of thought (e.g. neo-Freudian) it is clear that his interest is in getting 'alongside' people rather than in analysing or diagnosing them. Indeed, he cautions against diagnoses and advises therapists to view those who seek their help as 'fellow travellers' (rather than as afflicted clients).

Not being a therapist myself, I am not able to comment from that particular perspective, but it seems to me that what Yalom is writing about is the kind of pastoral care that, in the past, many people may have sought from their priests, ministers or rabbis. It is interesting that Yalom dislikes the term 'client' (which suggests a business relationship), preferring instead to use the term 'patient' (which seems rather more clinical) - but 'parishioner' might almost be a more fitting expression (though, presumably, there cannot be too great a 'flock' of 'parishioners' at any one time!). I make this comment because Yalom appears, essentially, to be urging therapists to act as secular clergy, supporting and empathising with individuals and, on occasions, giving them direction.

Given his relational/pastoral emphasis, it is unsurprising that he is dismissive of particular fixed approaches to therapy. He is certainly critical of the Person-Centred Approach pioneered by Carl Rogers, but he reserves some of his most scathing remarks for formulaic 'evidence-based therapies' such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

The Gift of Therapy is actually an enjoyable as well as informative read, precisely because it stresses relationship with the human subject rather than adherence to a method.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars His book is a gift - warmth and passion, a great read!
This is a great read. Irvin D. Yalom is super companionship in book form! He exudes such warmth and passion for therapy and human beings. His book is a gift.
Published 19 days ago by customer trillion
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and honest
Superb and thoughtful. Respect the raw honesty of the book, though I am unable to agree with a fee of his approaches to some patients. Read more
Published 1 month ago by P. S. Donlan
4.0 out of 5 stars I just love this guy
I just love this guy! He is amazing. I have only started so hope to get really stuck in and enjoy it.
Published 1 month ago by Flojo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A wonderfully honest and down to earth read.
Published 1 month ago by yocheved grosskopf
5.0 out of 5 stars The gift of Therapy book
This was bought for my daughter and she told me that she thoroughly enjoyed reading .
Published 2 months ago by gjbrown
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational
As a qualified counsellor I found this book very interesting and informative. As a client I was intrigued by Yalom' s thoughts about his clients and how much self-disclosure he... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gillian Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favourite books ever ! Insightful and instructive with an emphasis on being real.
Published 3 months ago by Angela Brooke
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
The authenticity of Yalom in his work with patients is an inspiration to anybody involved in therapy. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dr glen simons
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opener
First book of this sort I have read and I devoured it in a day! Interesting and has kind of helped me understand my own therapist.
Published 7 months ago by Dave
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
As always Yalom delivers this book in his own unique style. Have not fully read this yet but from what I have it is always a joy to read his material.
Published 7 months ago by Weegie
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