The author of the book presents an excellent account of how psychotherapy might unfold for both patient and clinician. I am not a therapist myself but it was refreshing to read an honest representation of what actually occurs in therapy rather than a self-serving and white-washed version of what happened. Yalom presents the cases into prose which leads the readers into the depths of human condition for utmost suspense and momentum.
Thelma imagined that lying in Mathew’s arms was transporting and considered it the greatest moment in her life. In twenty seven days, which she described as magical, she spoke on the phone with Mathew several times a day and saw one another fourteen times.
Dr. Yalom was still not satisfied with Thelma’s progress so he decided to have Mathew participate in a three-way therapy session. I still agree with this treatment. This is telling us and the patients that we can confront the truth of existence and connect their power for personal change. The therapist did not consider the feelings of the patient if there was really a love affair between them. All he wanted was to discover the truth of the existence of what the patient was claiming to have. Even if I were also a therapist, I would have opted to this technique. A life truth was present in this case: Mathew was as much a patient as Thelma. Dr. Yalom’s evaluation was “You cannot re-create a state of shared romantic love of the two of you being deeply in love with one another because it was never there in the first place.”
Another suspense and momentum was also present in another chapter of the book, titled The Wrong One Died. The patient here was Penny, the woman whose life was a struggle ever since the tragedy of losing her daughter. Penny felt responsible for the horrible death of her daughter, the reason why she is not able to let it go even after such a long time.
If you were a therapist or clinician would you have handled the cases differently?
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