The Gift of Therapy Quotes

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The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients by Irvin D. Yalom
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“Though the physicality of death destroys us, the idea of death may save us.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
tags: death
“love obsession often serves as a distraction, keeping the individual’s gaze from more painful thoughts.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Life as a therapist is a life of service in which we daily transcend our personal wishes and turn our gaze toward the needs and growth of the other. We take pleasure not only in the growth of our patient but also in the ripple effect—the salutary influence our patients have upon those whom they touch in life.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy
“As long as he denies his own agency, real change is unlikely because his attention will be directed toward changing his environment rather than himself.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“I often feel caught in a dilemma: on the one hand I wish to be more natural with you and yet, on the other hand, because I feel that you’re easily wounded and that you give my comments inordinate power, I feel I must consider my wording very, very carefully.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“If you make a mistake, admit it. Any attempt at cover-up will ultimately backfire. At some level the patient will sense you are acting in bad faith, and therapy will suffer. Furthermore, an open admission of error is good model-setting for patients and another sign that they matter to you.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Look out the other’s window. Try to see the world as your patient sees it.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“The establishment of an authentic relationship with patients, by its very nature, demands that we forego the power of the triumvirate of magic, mystery, and authority.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said that if he had eight hours to cut down a tree, he’d spend several of these hours sharpening his ax.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“The path to decision may be hard because it leads into the territory of both finiteness and groundlessness—domains soaked in anxiety.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Sometimes I simply remind patients that sooner or later they will have to relinquish the goal of having a better past.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Psychotherapy is a demanding vocation, and the successful therapist must be able to tolerate the isolation, anxiety, and frustration that are inevitable in the work.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“if we hope for more significant therapeutic change, we must encourage our patients to assume responsibility—that is, to apprehend how they themselves contribute to their distress.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“We humans appear to be meaning-seeking creatures who have had the misfortune of being thrown into a world devoid of intrinsic meaning. One of our major tasks is to invent a meaning sturdy enough to support a life and to perform the tricky maneuver of denying our personal authorship of this meaning. Thus we conclude instead that it was "out there" waiting for us. Our ongoing search for substantial meaning systems often throws us into crises of meaning.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Too often, we therapists neglect our personal relationships. Our work becomes our life.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Empathy: Looking Out the Patient’s Window”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“We cannot avoid this responsibility, this freedom.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Perhaps the real therapy occurred at the deathbed scene, when they moved into honesty with the revelation that they were fellow travelers, both simply human, all too human.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Winnicott also cites the hostile lullabies mothers sing to babies, who fortunately do not understand the words. For example:   Rockabye, Baby, on the treetop, When the wind blows the cradle will rock, When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, And down will come baby, cradle and all.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy
“The therapist's worldview is in itself isolating. Seasoned therapists view relationships differently, they sometimes lose patience with social ritual and bureaucracy, they cannot abide the fleeting shallow encounters and small talk of many social gatherings.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“I believe "technique" is facilitative when it emanates from the therapist's unique encounter with the patient. [E]very course of therapy consists of small and large spontaneously generated responses or techniques that are impossible to program in advance.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“A great many of our patients have conflicts in the realm of intimacy, and obtain help in therapy sheerly through experiencing an intimate relationship with the therapist. Some fear intimacy because they believe there is something basically unacceptable about them, something repugnant and unforgivable, Given this, the act of revealing oneself fully to another and still being accepted may be the major vehicle of therapeutic help.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Beginning therapists must learn that there are times to sit in silence, sometimes in silent communion, sometimes simply while waiting for patients' thoughts to appear in a form that they may be expressed.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“In the first, a tornado approached and I led her and others up a fire escape that ultimately dead-ended against a brick wall. In the second dream she and I were taking an examination and neither of us knew the answers. I welcomed these dreams because they informed the patient of my limits, my humanness, my having to grapple with the same fundamental problems of life that she did.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“keep in mind that therapy is a deep and comprehensive exploration into the course and meaning of one’s life; given the centrality of death in our existence, given that life and death are interdependent, how can we possibly ignore it?”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Heidegger spoke of two modes of existence: the everyday mode and the ontological mode. In the everyday mode we are consumed with and distracted by material surroundings - we are filled with wonderment about how things are in the world. In the ontological mode we are focused on being per se - that is, we are filled with wonderment that things are in the world.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“Being empathic is so much a part of everyday discourse—popular singers warble platitudes about being in the other’s skin, walking in the other’s moccasins—that we tend to forget the complexity of the process. It is extraordinarily difficult to know really what the other feels; far too often we project our own feelings onto the other.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“The idea of using current distortions to re-create the past was part of an old, now abandoned, vision of the therapist as archaeologist, patiently scraping off the dust of decades to understand (and thus, in some mysterious manner, undo) the original trauma. It is a far better model to think of understanding the past in order to apprehend the present therapist-patient relationship.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“{B]eware of empty compliments - make your support as incisive as your feedback or interpretations.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
“I often urge patients to project themselves into the future and to consider how they can live now so that five years hence they will be able to look back upon life without regret sweeping over them anew.”
Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

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