Secrecy and Curiosity
One of the most things I get asked is: “What happens inside the therapy room?” People want to know what type of clients I am seeing, what their issues are, who these people are. There is so much curiosity between everyone to know more about therapy. I am under a strict confidentiality pact, so I don’t divulge any details whatsoever. The world of therapy is shrouded in secrecy and confidentiality indeed.
But I know something that will help all those who are curious, Lori Gottlieb’s book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. The tagline for the book is “a therapist, her therapist and our lives revealed.”
Lori is an experienced therapist herself, but when she lands in a personal crisis, she seeks out her own therapist. [One of the most common inquiries I get is whether therapists are crazy people because they have to see their own therapists. This is such a common feeling among many and I would like to say that no, we are not crazy].
Lori also talks about her own clients, who range from a Hollywood producer to someone who’s just been diagnosed with a terminal illness, to a senior citizen who’s given up on life. Through her own client’s stories, Lori finds herself asking the same questions to her own therapists.
These moments between the therapist and her clients provide some of the best narratives in the book: their issues cropping up and how Lori helps them maneuver through their emotions. There are moments of happiness and sadness, excitement, and riveting, but most of all, there are moments of deep honesty and a literal baring of the soul.
In some of the more candid moments, I particularly enjoyed reading about Lori’s thought process when she ends up at her own therapist. Somehow I felt I would be asking the same questions. One of the interesting experiences she encounters is when she talks about how she knows exactly what her therapist is saying because Lori herself is a therapist. It becomes a unique situation, but with subsequent sessions, Lori becomes more of a client.
The book is split into four parts and covers Lori’s own journey over the course of a year. You will get a good idea of the process of being in therapy: how the issues are brought up, how they are addressed, and how they are resolved. You will not find a guide book or a how-to approach because her clients are unique people and her methodology cannot be applied to other clients. Issues range from narcissism, low self-esteem, fear of dying, and old age.
In one of the chapters, Lori hits on a common theme of her clients: loneliness and lack of human connection. This got me thinking about my own work and realized how true this statement is. In a culture where people are not encouraged to speak up or share their emotions, and shaming takes place, clients find it hard to make a deep human connection. “The four ultimate concerns are death, isolation, freedom, and meaningless.” (page 266).
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a bestseller and got a lot of rave reviews. It’s a very insightful, intelligent, and bold book. It may not solve people’s dying curiosity about what happens inside a therapist’s office, but it will definitely give the readers the experience of what it’s like to be with a therapist.