The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. 

Carl Gustav Jung

In spite of being a very tough choice for most of us, therapy can turn out to be a gift. It can enrich a person’s life with many gifts of understanding. But it is also an exchange of gifts between two people, the patient and the therapist, because at its core therapy is about connection and connections transform us. The Gift of therapy is a collection of 85 insights on therapeutic process – distilled from intimate moments of vulnerability, transformation and strength – from one of 21st centuries most renowned therapists and beloved writers, Irwin Yalom.

Yalom explores therapy as a gift that begets many other gifts. In this process, he traces the birth and evolution of healing- from wounded healers like Buddha and Jesus to Freud, psychotherapy and modern insurance schemes that strangle therapy and its giftedness with time and financial constraints. With existential and group therapies as his foci, he weaves a beautiful fabric of thoughts, tales and experiences surrounding therapy. In his reflections he bears his growth as a human through therapy.

In his therapy room, Yalom offers a safe space for the dynamics of relationships to emerge. What follows is a delicate, intimate and transformative inquiry into the nuances of the patient-therapist relationship. Anything and everything of this relationship can be analyzed because that is the purpose of this relationship and there is nothing to loose. Therapy bears fruit when the patient adapt the learnings from this template to their life. Yalom reminds us how therapy is not a substitute, but a dress rehearsal for life.

Yalom is skeptical of the direction that modern therapy takes- brief, specific and problem focused. Through his experiences he recounts how existential therapy, that is deep and time consuming, can really be soul bearing and transcendental. Through his recollections of group therapy sessions we see how the key to healing might be embedded in the people around us. Yalom’s experiences point to the tragic truths of the human condition- on being condemned to be free, only to bear the burden of existence and its truths. The entirety of the book with the backdrop of therapy reminds us how much we need each other to get through life.

4 thoughts on “The Gift of Therapy

  1. I trust in the importance of connection to receive healing. Recently, I had reconnected with someone who loved me so much, this intimate moment allowed me to get immersed in myself, understanding things that were forbidden. Even pushing myself to be a better version. I hope that she felt the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a very intense and meaningful experience Elkin. Such moments are very transformative. I am glad that you are able to appreciate that experience in the light of this blog post.β€πŸ•Š


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