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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2002
'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
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
on 28 April 2003
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2013
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
on 1 September 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2011
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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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2007
I'm beginning to wonder if I've been reading the same book as everyone else. I found it all 'too nice' and ultimately quite boring. As for suggesting that a therapist should give a patient a hug, hold their hand or whatever if that's what the client wants - tell that to the judge! Actually, you can't can you because it's not against the law is it? - so really this just once again highlights that there can still be pretty fuzzy boundaries in the counselling relationship if an 'expert' deems such contact ok.
I am reading Between Therapist and Client by Michael Kahn and so far, I much prefer it to the Gift of Therapy.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2006
All therapists should read this, as you are likely to gain some useful insights, tips and advice. It's really easy to read, you can pick it up and put it down within minutes and resume reading without feeling lost. So, it's good for the busy therapist!! I love Yalom's writing, his down to earth approach, and his honesty. All characteristics that should be admired. Read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2010
My first Yalom book, and it's clear that he writes with great insight from many years of experience. The advice in here - a series of letters and notes to Clients and therapists alike - are rooted in a profound understanding of the relationship between two people in a room, one of whom is seeking 'answers', the other seeking to help. Practical and engaging.
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