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Learn the key ideas of the book by Lori Gottlieb

Maybe you should talk to someone

Personal growth through psychotherapy

In her memoir, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, psychotherapist and journalist Lori Gottlieb gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the field of psychotherapy, from both the therapist's and the patient's perspectives. Gottlieb herself found much needed support through psychotherapy following the end of a relationship. While exploring the most hidden areas of her patients' lives, she discovers that the underlying issues they are struggling with are the same as those she discussed with her own psychotherapist, Dr Wendell. The result is a revealing portrait of what it means to be human, a disarmingly funny and enlightening account of our lives, and of our power to transform them.

Maybe you should talk to someone
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Psychotherapy is not one-sided, and therapists also go to therapy

According to the author of this book, Lori Gottlieb, the way to change is "through our relationships with other people", and especially through the therapeutic alliance between psychotherapist and patient. The relationship of trust that is created while a patient is in effective psychotherapy, and the feeling of being ‘understood’ by the therapist, are the main factors behind successful treatment.

One of the most important steps in therapy is to help patients take responsibility for their lives, because once they realise that they can, and should, take care of building their own lives, they are free to create change. Patients in therapy are given guidance as they begin to take responsibility for their own problems and personal growth, while at the same time maintaining a level of vulnerability. There is an implicit clause in the therapeutic contract that states that the patient is willing to tolerate some discomfort, which is unavoidable if the process is to be effective.

The therapist becomes a kind of mirror for the patients, showing them what they cannot yet see, but the patients also become mirrors for the therapist. Therapy is not one-sided; it is a parallel process. Something that is not spoken about often is that therapists also see a therapist. This is part of their training, and a condition of obtaining their licence, but they often also continue to do so afterwards, at different stages of their career and life, either to talk about the emotional impact of their work, or to deal with specific personal situations. The author of the book, for example, started seeing a psychotherapist when, in her forties and with a young child, she was suddenly left by the man she believed would become her husband.


The key ideas of "Maybe you should talk to someone"

Psychotherapy is not one-sided, and therapists also go to therapy
The ‘presenting problem’ almost always hides deeper issues
We use defence mechanisms to avoid painful feelings, but a therapist must be able to see through them
The paradox of the therapeutic process: therapists try to see patients as they really are, while patients want to hide their vulnerabilities
The four reasons why people go to therapy: death, isolation, a lack of purpose, and a lack of freedom
Take-home message
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