The Gift of Therapy

The Gift of Therapy

An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients



Anyone interested in psychotherapy or personal growth will rejoice at the publication of The Gift of Therapy, a masterwork from one of today's most accomplished psychological thinkers.

From his thirty-five years as a practicing psychiatrist and as an award-winning author, Irvin D. Yalom imparts his unique wisdom in The Gift of Therapy. This remarkable guidebook for successful therapy is, as Yalom remarks, "an idiosyncratic mélange of ideas and techniques that I have found useful in my work. These ideas are so personal, opinionated, and occasionally original that the reader is unlikely to encounter them elsewhere. I selected the eighty-five categories in this volume randomly guided by my passion for the task rather than any particular order or system."

At once startlingly profound and irresistibly practical, Yalom's insights will help enrich the therapeutic process for a new generation of patients and counselors.

IRVIN D. YALOM, M.D., is the bestselling author of Love’s Executioner, Momma and the Meaning of Life, and The Schopenhauer Cure, as well as several classic textbooks on psychotherapy, including the monumental work that has long been the standard text in the field, The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy.


  1. Dedication
  2. Introduction
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. CHAPTER 1 Remove the Obstacles to Growth
  5. CHAPTER 2 Avoid Diagnosis(Except for Insurance Companies)
  6. CHAPTER 3 Therapist and Patient as “Fellow Travelers”
  7. CHAPTER 4 Engage the Patient
  8. CHAPTER 5 Be Supportive
  9. CHAPTER 6 Empathy: Looking Out the Patient’s Window
  10. CHAPTER 7 Teach Empathy
  11. CHAPTER 8 Let the Patient Matter to You
  12. CHAPTER 9 Acknowledge Your Errors
  13. CHAPTER 10 Create a New Therapy for Each Patient
  14. CHAPTER 11 The Therapeutic Act, Not the Therapeutic Word
  15. CHAPTER 12 Engage in Personal Therapy
  16. CHAPTER 13 The Therapist Has Many Patients; The Patient, One Therapist
  17. CHAPTER 14 The Here-and-Now—Use It, Use It, Use It
  18. CHAPTER 15 Why Use the Here-and-Now?
  19. CHAPTER 16 Using the Here-and-Now—Grow Rabbit Ears
  20. CHAPTER 17 Search for Here-and-Now Equivalents
  21. CHAPTER 18 Working Through Issues in the Here-and-Now
  22. CHAPTER 19 The Here-and-Now Energizes Therapy
  23. CHAPTER 20 Use Your Own Feelings as Data
  24. CHAPTER 21 Frame Here-and-Now Comments Carefully
  25. CHAPTER 22 All Is Grist for the Here-and-Now Mill
  26. CHAPTER 23 Check into the Here-and-Now Each Hour
  27. CHAPTER 24 What Lies Have You Told Me?
  28. CHAPTER 25 Blank Screen? Forget It! Be Real
  29. CHAPTER 26 Three Kinds of Therapist Self-Disclosure
  30. CHAPTER 27 The Mechanism of Therapy—Be Transparent
  31. CHAPTER 28 Revealing Here-and-Now Feelings—Use Discretion
  32. CHAPTER 29 Revealing the Therapist’s Personal Life—Use Caution
  33. CHAPTER 30 Revealing Your Personal Life—Caveats
  34. CHAPTER 31 Therapist Transparency and Universality
  35. CHAPTER 32 Patients Will Resist Your Disclosure
  36. CHAPTER 33 Avoid the Crooked Cure
  37. CHAPTER 34 On Taking Patients Further Than You Have Gone
  38. CHAPTER 35 On Being Helped by Your Patient
  39. CHAPTER 36 Encourage Patient Self-Disclosure
  40. CHAPTER 37 Feedback in Psychotherapy
  41. CHAPTER 38 Provide Feedback Effectively and Gently
  42. CHAPTER 39 Increase Receptiveness to Feedback by Using “Parts”
  43. CHAPTER 40 Feedback: Strike When the Iron Is Cold
  44. CHAPTER 41 Talk About Death
  45. CHAPTER 42 Death and Life Enhancement
  46. CHAPTER 43 How to Talk About Death
  47. CHAPTER 44 Talk About Life Meaning
  48. CHAPTER 45 Freedom
  49. CHAPTER 46 Helping Patients Assume Responsibility
  50. CHAPTER 47 Never (Almost Never) Make Decisions for the Patient
  51. CHAPTER 48 Decisions: A Via Regia into Existential Bedrock
  52. CHAPTER 49 Focus on Resistance to Decision
  53. CHAPTER 50 Facilitating Awareness by Advice Giving
  54. CHAPTER 51 Facilitating Decisions—Other Devices
  55. CHAPTER 52 Conduct Therapy as a Continuous Session
  56. CHAPTER 53 Take Notes of Each Session
  57. CHAPTER 54 Encourage Self-Monitoring
  58. CHAPTER 55 When Your Patient Weeps
  59. CHAPTER 56 Give Yourself Time Between Patients
  60. CHAPTER 57 Express Your Dilemmas Openly
  61. CHAPTER 58 Do Home Visits
  62. CHAPTER 59 Don’t Take Explanation Too Seriously
  63. CHAPTER 60 Therapy-Accelerating Devices
  64. CHAPTER 61 Therapy as a Dress Rehearsal for Life
  65. CHAPTER 62 Use the Initial Complaint as Leverage
  66. CHAPTER 63 Don’t Be Afraid of Touching Your Patient
  67. CHAPTER 64 Never Be Sexual with Patients
  68. CHAPTER 65 Look for Anniversary and Life-Stage Issues
  69. CHAPTER 66 Never Ignore “Therapy Anxiety”
  70. CHAPTER 67 Doctor, Take Away My Anxiety
  71. CHAPTER 68 On Being Love’s Executioner
  72. CHAPTER 69 Taking a History
  73. CHAPTER 70 A History of the Patient’s Daily Schedule
  74. CHAPTER 71 How Is the Patient’s Life Peopled?
  75. CHAPTER 72 Interview the Significant Other
  76. CHAPTER 73 Explore Previous Therapy
  77. CHAPTER 74 Sharing the Shade of the Shadow
  78. CHAPTER 75 Freud Was Not Always Wrong
  79. CHAPTER 76 CBT Is Not What It’s Cracked Up to Be …Or, Don’t Be Afraid of the EVT Bogeyman
  80. CHAPTER 77 Dreams—Use Them, Use Them, Use Them
  81. CHAPTER 78 Full Interpretation of a Dream? Forget It!
  82. CHAPTER 79 Use Dreams Pragmatically: Pillage and Loot
  83. CHAPTER 80 Master Some Dream Navigational Skills
  84. CHAPTER 81 Learn About the Patient’s Life from Dreams
  85. CHAPTER 82 Pay Attention to the First Dream
  86. CHAPTER 83 Attend Carefully to Dreams About the Therapist
  87. CHAPTER 84 Beware the Occupational Hazards
  88. CHAPTER 85 Cherish the Occupational Privileges
  89. NOTES
  90. P. SInsights, Interviews & More . . .
  91. About the author
  92. About the book
  93. Read on
  94. Other Works by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D.
  95. Copyright
  96. About the Publisher