I love the title of the book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It’s a phrase we hear often, but the subtext is a serious one that is easy to ignore. So by making it the title she highlights the notion that no, really, maybe you should talk to someone.
Lori Gottlieb shows us in her informed examination of the psychotherapeutic process, that making contact is the primary goal when a patient shows up on the therapist’s couch. She gives us a sense of what a therapist might experience as they go about their work day attempting to assist those who come to them seeking help. Meanwhile, as she tells us about her various patients and what they talk about in her office, she herself is struggling with her own crisis. This comes in the form of jilted love that derails the life she had been planning, and for which she also seeks the help of a therapist.
It’s a bit of genius to open up the role that is traditionally held secret, that of the therapist but also that of the patient, to demystify the process and therefore welcome us all into what some may see as the scary world of psychotherapy. By positioning herself as both therapist and patient she shows us that it is not that easy to get the job done. That it is not just a matter of showing up and paying the money and claiming you were there, no matter which role you take. Both must engage. Both must make contact.
I know this firsthand for having wandered into a psychotherapist’s office when I was 27 and then staying for about another twenty years. A good therapist can open up their office as a symbol of what it means to be real. I went in believing that psychotherapy was a place to “learn more about oneself” whatever that means, rather than to work on any problems. I actually believed I had no problems, except at some level I must have realized the benefits because I went willingly and openly. A capable therapist, as Lori shows herself to be, has the power to help people make huge changes in their lives if they are able to welcome the opportunity. You must give yourself over to their leadings, trust in their training, their intuition, and their humanity, to guide you where you need to go. And a talented therapist can do it.
Lori Gottlieb is not afraid to show us how this works as she offers both the details and the outlines to the processes undergone by her patients and herself. Each of us at our own pace and in the therapy office, must let down the very useful defenses that keep us from unloading all our issues onto our fellow humans in our day-to-day lives, and Lori shows us that in this engaging book.