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A Book Review: "Maybe you should talk to someone"

Updated: May 9

A look behind the closed door of the therapy room

A picture of the front cover of the book "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone"

Do Therapists Have Their Own Therapists?

Do you ever wonder about your therapist's life?

You turn up to each session to talk about the difficulties and the challenges that you're facing and you form an intimate relationship with this other person; yet you know little about them as a private person...and rightly so!

It is the nature of the therapeutic relationship after all, that they're there to help you and not to talk about their own stuff on your time.

But do you ever wonder if they've got their own challenges that they are grappling with?

Or does it seem to you that your therapist must, surely, be totally sorted and have no issues at all...negotiating their way through life, following perfectly for themselves all the sage advice, skills and tools that they are imparting to you?

It's not uncommon for clients to tell me that they assume that I don't have any issues, or don't experience any of the problems that they might be experiencing. 

I have even had one client tell me that they thought I must have a perfect life, and colleagues have told me that they've had similar comments from their own clients.

But in reality, therapists are just as human and just as flawed as anyone else!

Anxiety - check

Stress - check

Low mood - check

We grapple with the same universal challenges as everyone else, such as relationship difficulties, family issues, and professional pressures. 

Therapists: Human and Flawed

It’s not a secret in therapist circles that the profession seems to attract people with unrelentingly high standards and so issues like imposter syndrome, perfectionism and the resulting self-criticism are not uncommon.

We may have studied the tools to manage these problems, but it doesn’t stop the problems arising in the first place…such is the nature of modern life!

It is impossible to live life without ever experiencing pain and discomfort, whether it’s emotional or physical, whoever you are.

Pain and Discomfort: A Universal Experience

Lori Gottlieb is an author, but she is also a therapist and her book gives a unique insight into what goes on behind the closed doors of the therapy room; significantly she is often speaking about her own therapy with her own therapist.

Yes that's right therapists themselves go to therapy and have their own therapists!

Of course, it’s tricky to write about what goes on in the therapy room, because core to the very nature of the therapy is the aspect of confidentiality. 

Not many people would entertain going to therapy if they thought that all their secrets would be disclosed in their therapist’s next book for the entertainment of the world.

Writing About Therapy: Balancing Confidentiality and Insight

But there are ways of writing about what goes on in the private therapy space that protects the client whilst also giving insight into the process, and I think this is powerful tool for encouraging those who may be scared to take that initial step into getting support!

In this book we learn about the therapeutic process and the benefits, as well as the challenges - therapy is not easy, but nor are lots of things that are worthwhile.

The author doesn’t focus so much on the nitty-gritty details of the problems being addressed by the therapy, but more on exploring the emotional journey involved in the process, along with the therapy tools that are employed.

A Glimpse Inside Therapy Sessions

Gottlieb employs an interesting way of showing how the therapist guides the therapy by using dialogue snippets -  I like this as I think it offers the reader insight into how things work, and can give them confidence that a therapist isn’t going to be using some clever psychological trickery to get them to divulge their innermost secrets.

Therapists Don't Analyse You Secretly!

I am sure that I won’t be the only therapist who has come across people in social situations who have expressed a fear that I’m going to be secretly analysing them, and working out their deepest and darkest secrets, whilst passing the time of day about the weather or some such. 

You can rest assured that it doesn’t work like that! 

So whilst disclosure of the specifics about the problems being addressed in the therapy are limited (rightly so), the author is very honest with her emotional disclosure.

Vulnerability and Connection in Therapy

Through her descriptions of her vulnerability, and even confusion, during the sessions we can connect with her on a human level. 

She offers a glimpse into the private therapy space without compromising confidentiality, or overshadowing the broader message about the value of therapy.

Shared Journeys: Exploring Universal Themes

Gottlieb doesn’t only speak of her own therapy process, she interweaves her own clients’ journeys with her own exploring universal themes such as love, loss, grief and self-discovery.

This allows us to gain a sense of our common humanity…although the content and details of a particular individual’s challenges will differ from our own, we are still able to connect with the themes and relate back to our own difficulties. 

As she reflects on her sessions with clients and connects back to her own therapy, she highlights how similar techniques can be applied to different situations and encourages us to reflect on our own lives.

"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone": A Multifaceted Look at Therapy

So this book can be enjoyed on many levels - not only as an entertaining and humorous ‘human interest’ read but also as a multifaceted and insightful look at therapy…not least in respect of what it means to be ‘the client’ and what it means to be ‘the therapist’.

So, if you have ever wondered about the life of your therapist outside of the therapy room, you will find this to be a very enlightening and thoroughly entertaining read. 

You will also probably pick up titbits of sage advice as the author reflects on the life and loves of her clients and herself.

Have you read the book?

If so, what surprised you most about it? Did it challenge your perception of therapy in any way? I’d love to know!

Let me know in the comments section below.

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