Letting the Patient Matter: Some Thoughts on Irvin Yalom's View of the Therapeutic Relationship

Letting the Patient Matter: Some Thoughts on Irvin Yalom's View of the Therapeutic Relationship

by Barbara Jamison

Jamison reviews highlights of Yalom's new book, The Gift of Therapy. focusing on his willingness to engage fully and reveal himself in the therapeutic relationship. Signed copy of book available.
In his recent book The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients, psychiatrist and writer Irvin Yalom recalls a poignant encounter with one of his cancer patients. The woman is embarrassed by her hair loss after chemotherapy, and during one of her therapy sessions, she reveals that she would like a sign from Yalom that her baldness does not repulse him. Yalom, who has always admired this patient for the intelligence that illuminates her features, tells her he's not repulsed at all. In fact, he asks if he can act on his impulse to run his fingers through the lovely gray strands of hair remaining on her head. The result is a warm, intimate moment that is cathartic for both.
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Barbara Jamison is a San Francisco-based writer, editor and translator.
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