The Gift of Therapy Book Summary - The Gift of Therapy Book explained in key points
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The Gift of Therapy summary

Irvin D. Yalom

An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

4.3 (19 ratings)
15 mins
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    The Gift of Therapy
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    The Importance of the Therapeutic Relationship

    As patients start therapy, two things matter. The first involves what they’re going to tell their therapist about their situation. Let’s call that the content. The second is the relationship the patient and the therapist are going to build. We’ll call this the process.

    Of these two things, the process matters more than the content. 

    Why? First, it’ll help the therapist get to know the patient better. This intimacy will make the patient more comfortable with sharing. Second, as the relationship with the therapist grows, the patient is likely to act the way they do in their daily life. This will help the therapist identify areas that the patient really needs to work on.

    Therapists should see their patients as fellow travelers – as humans, we’re all essentially dealing with the same issues. Practicing this level of empathy results in effective therapy.

    Therapy should also be an engaging experience that doesn’t shy away from the negative things that have happened to the patient. The challenge lies in finding the right time to tackle them in a way that highlights the positives, so that these positive lessons can then be carried forward.

    In short, the therapist should collect the content – but always remember to use it to engage the patient. That therapeutic act, the interaction between therapist and patient, is how healing happens.

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    What is The Gift of Therapy about?

    The Gift of Therapy (2001) is a comprehensive guide to improving the relationship between therapists and their patients. Built on safety and trust, this therapeutic bond becomes the foundation for personal healing and the pathway to repairing other relationships.

    Who should read The Gift of Therapy?

    • Therapists who want to improve their craft
    • People trying to understand the role of their therapist
    • Anyone curious about life, relationships, and social psychology

    About the Author

    Irvin D. Yalom’s 45-year career started in medicine – and then progressed to psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, and the way these related fields all provide insight into the practice of therapy. His textbooks on psychotherapy are part of the curriculum at Stanford and numerous other schools. He has released several best sellers, including The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, When Nietzsche Wept, and Love's Executioner.

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