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Tales from a Traveling Couch: Psychotherapist Revisits His Most Memorable Patients

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  315 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
So, on a sunny morning in April, Dr. Akeret got in his van and set off to visit his most memorable former patients--a journey "in search of story endings." And what remarkable stories they are...

Naomi, an abused young Jewish girl from the Bronx who transforms herself into a Spanish flamenco dancer named Isabella--what is she like now, in her mid-fifties?

What about Charles,
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton Company (first published June 1st 1995)
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Taken at face value, this is an interesting book and the tales inside are worth a cheap laugh. They're all of a very typical Freudian value- 'every-sing goes back to ze muzzer'. No, seriously- everything goes back to dear ol' ma in this book.

Naomi? Mum.

Charles? Mum.

Seth? Mum.

Sasha? Mum.

Mary? Mum. Well, Mum also plays in with Dad in this section.

Now, I'm sure Akeret is a good psychoanalyst, but I felt the whole time while reading this book that everything was just a touch overly dramatic, a touch
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Read this during grad school for counseling psychology, as a means to avoid the mind-numbing boredom of the academic experience. It worked like a charm, and I thoroughly enjoyed these tales of the good doctor's memorable patients.
Louisa Relia
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it!
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, medical
I don't know if it is simply due to the fact it seems he saw most of these patients in the 1960s and 1970s but the book felt dated. I didn't really think that these patients were all that memorable nor did I think anything all that radical happened during treatment or after treatment.

Obviously the title says that he finds these patients memorable, but I am not certain he did a good job of explaining why. Except for the guy who is in love with polar bears, everyone else seems to have "normal" pro
Danie Ross
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Have you ever wondered how therapy sessions can impact the life of a therapist ?
If so “ Tales From A Traveling Couch “ would be a good book to pick up and read.
After being in the therapy field for over thirty years therapist Robert Akeret reflects
on his five most impactful patients and revisits them and tells their impactful stories to the reading audience . I liked the book because I was able to relate to people in the book a
lot because I myself have been a patient that has impacted my therap
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was truly one of the better books I have read regarding therapy and the therapy process and it examines the question that many therapists ask ourselves, "Am I truly helping my clients?." While Dr. Akeret is grounded in psychoanalysis, a counseling theory that is not often used anymore, many of the themes of the book still ring true today. Mainly, that therapy "works when it works" and who are we to decide what the outcome of therapy should be or when clients are "better" or "normal." W ...more
Tom Franklin
May 16, 2013 rated it liked it
A retired psychotherapist embarks on a roadtrip to visit some of his former patients. His trip is, in part to see how his former patents have been since leaving therapy, and in part to see if his work with them was beneficial at all.

As a storyteller, Akeret does a fine job of mixing his personal story in with his patients' stories. As the book progresses, he becomes more and more aware that his trip is more about himself. His former patients are all interesting and their stories are each worth
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a pleasant surprise this book is. Dr. Akeret wanted to find out whether the 'treatment' he gave a handful of his patients had lasting effects, some 20-30 years later, and he sets out on a trip to visit them. The result is a well-written, story-book like account of these visits. It is extremely well-written, and a real page-turner.

What really sets it apart from the like of Oliver Sachs is that Dr. Akeret is a major protagonist in the stories. He is open and candid about his own feelings and
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've always been interested in psychology. But, alas, am too old now to pursue that dream. So now I have to live my life vicariously through those who are.

I found Dr Akeret's book to be very enlightening. Who would have ever thought there are so many messed up people out there. This is only FIVE of them.

I found all their stories fascinating. Sometimes hard to believe but since this is supposed to be non-fiction I guess we can trust they are true. I have a psychologist friend I am passing this b
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
*Life after therapy*

Although this book reads like a novel, it contains the real-life stories of the journeys of five of Robert's most memorable patients. Starting with the work that began within the walls of the therapy room, each chapter takes a peek into how the lives of the individual patients have progressed in the space and time beyond the sessions. On so many levels, this book illustrates how the real effects of therapy transcend quantifiable in-session measures, and have an immeasurably p
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
It was years ago when I came across this book in a dusty corner of a local library. Somehow neither Amazon nor Shelfari has the cover photo. I hope it is not out of print as it's such a wonderful book! For therapists who wonder what happened to their clients after the termination of treatment (who does not?!), this book is a gem. It tells stories of a retired psychiatrist/psychologist (? sorry it was too long ago that i read it!) travelling throughout America, visiting patients who he last saw d ...more
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Incredible stories about therapy and life. Interesting way to examine the question of whether therapy is really effective and to carefully consider what "effective"means. Akeret is a great storyteller.
Jacqueline Bocian
Jul 18, 2016 marked it as to-read
LOVED this book. What a premise: a psychiatrist goes back and visits his most memorable patients, 20 years after treatment, to determine whether he did or did not assist them long-term in changing their lives for the better.
Mar 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Awesome book… super interesting and very well written. Akeret clearly had a lot of fascinating characters to choose from, but chose them well, I thought. Kind of a chicken soup for the psychoanalysts soul - but but seemingly honest and uncontrived. Definitely recommended.
Apr 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who is intested in the human mind
Shelves: must-read
If you are looking for a self help book, forget it!
On the other hand, it gives an amazing insight into the mind of the psychotherapist and the client, as well as being a fascinating read!
A must!
A crying shame the book is so expensive! Specially in the States!!!
Maria (Ri)
Wow! Some of these patients really are memorable! Most amazing to me was Charles, the circus entertainer. How incredible! Because of my training, I couldn't help thinking of a homeopathic remedy for each of these interesting individuals.
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A weird, interesting and fascinating book. One to have among your bookshelf.
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a really fascinating read about a psychotherapist in his 70s who reconnects with his most memorable clients.
Michael Massad
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very inciting book on psychoanalysis. The language was easy, fluid, and smart. The stories were captivating and varied.
Asked the reader to think and consider a number of topics.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
A really interesting book!
Thoroughly likeable therapist author, and five intriguing tales.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very interesting
Melissa Webb
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well I have learned from Tales from a Traveling Couch, that our parents tend to screw us up royally!!
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
I wished the patients' biographies and comments hadn't been filtered by the shrink--I wasn't sure he was a reliable narrator--he had so much of his own self-worth invested in the process.
Kathrin Grosse
Mar 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Not as good as Yalom but o.k. (interesting cases).

I read it in German ("Eine Couch auf Reisen").
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting look at what it means to help and be helped, and how that a short period of time can effect you down the road.
Dana Miranda
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
interestingly in Akeret wanting to make clinical cases more human in there approach to their subjects, he unwittingly turned his patients into characters.
rated it really liked it
Jan 15, 2012
Manuela Capriotti
rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2015
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Robert U. Akeret received his doctorate in psychology from Columbia University and his certificate in psychoanalysis from the William Alanson White Institute where he trained with Rollo May and Erich Fromm. He has worked in the counseling services at Columbia University, the City College of New York, and is a past President of the Association of Psychoanalytic Psychologists.
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