Irvin Yalom on Psychotherapy and Writing
by Irvin Yalom
We’re thrilled to present this in-depth interview with Irvin Yalom, a true master whose influence commands large audiences in both the psychotherapy and literature fields. Here, he offers insight into his evolution as a clinician and writer, along with the guiding principles of his half-century of groundbreaking therapeutic work.
From group therapy to the therapeutic relationship to working in the here-and-now, Irvin Yalom has been a leading force behind some of psychotherapy’s most enduring principles and techniques. His narratives are a uniquely informed blend of the psychological, the historical, and the philosophical, and have parlayed his clinical insights into a thriving literary career. In this illuminating interview with Orah Krug, one of Yalom’s longtime protégées, you’ll get a glimpse of the warmth, authenticity, and incisiveness of this renowned luminary, along with clinical takeaways to enliven your practice.

Here, Yalom speaks to Krug in front of a live audience to highlight the core themes of his long career. He takes us on his journey from psychiatrist to writer, noting that his “writerly mind is operating whenever I see a patient.” It’s this fascination with the human experience that unifies his work, and Yalom stresses the need for today’s therapists to creatively engage in their clients’ lives, as much as a novelist (or reader) would engage in a character’s arc. Numerous anecdotes from over fifty years of clinical work add depth and educational value to this interview, and give you the background behind such books as Love’s Executioner, When Nietzsche Wept, and The Spinoza Problem.

The interview also highlights Yalom’s major clinical contributions, including his early introduction to the philosophies that would shape existential psychotherapy; his exposure in the 1950s to group therapy, and how he crafted the modality into the relational style practiced across the field today; and his focus on the here-and-now—the “pay dirt” of the therapeutic relationship. Yalom’s signature teachings are distilled into an enlightening hour of interview and Q&A, and you’ll find him a pleasure to watch.

If you’re looking for a window into the man behind the theory—in addition to an overview of his ideas in his own words—then this delightful video is a must-have.

What therapists are saying…

"Watching this video is like having Dr. Irvin Yalom come to your home for a fireside chat. And as it turns out, Dr. Yalom is an excellent guest. Watching and listening to him sitting and casually answering questions about his career and ideas is a remarkable experience. Dr. Yalom shares insights that reveal the nuanced texture of his professional writing. He also provides glimpses into his formidable psychotherapy knowledge and experience. In many ways, this video is a tour of Yalom’s therapeutic imagination. After watching this video I was inspired to take more risks and embody more of my genuine self while teaching graduate students; the positive outcomes were palpable. I highly recommend this video for everyone who wants to expand their understanding not only of Yalom and his work, but also to those who seeking psychotherapeutic inspiration."

-- John Sommers-Flanagan, PhD, professor of Counselor Education, University of Montana
"The power of this video as a teaching tool lies in its ability to connect students to an approach to practice at its source. Its brief, engaging format offers an excellent complement for counseling courses, particularly those focused on the helping relationship, psychotherapeutic theories, group therapy or ethics. Yalom’s own story exemplifies steadfast scholarship; truth seeking through reading, research and experimentation; and courage, curiosity and intuition as central to his work, and thus in itself it is an inspiration for those entering the field."

-- Amie Manis, NCC, Cappella University, reviewed in The Professional Counselor
"This video will have a powerful impact on therapists of various experience levels and fans of Yalom in general. His endless pursuit of knowledge, love of learning, and authentic openness are a contagious combination...The interview reveals Yalom’s humor, passion for philosophy, empathy for patients, and, as always, leaves us hungry for more. Weeks after viewing the video, I noticed how his interview had a profound influence on me."

-- Cheri Marmarosh and Avi Margolies, reviewed in American Psychological Association PsycCritiques
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In this video interview, understand the mind behind the man who said, “therapy is going to work if you take a risk every session.” Irvin Yalom is lauded as the authority on group and existential psychotherapy, and has built a formidable literary career alongside his groundbreaking clinical work. Here, you’ll watch him expand on the origins of his fifty-plus years as a therapist, the creative flexibility that breathes life into any therapeutic relationship, and his transition from psychiatrist to writer of both fiction and nonfiction. A briefd Q&A session follows the interview, rounding out an hour with a clinical pioneer fascinated by story and actively engaged with the human condition.

Yalom’s sense of narrative reverence is both palpable and contagious; you’ll find something new to consider after multiple views. Whether you are interested in exploring a writing career alongside your therapy practice, or just want an insight into Yalom’s prolific mind and works, be sure to add this compelling video interview to your library today.
By watching this video, you will:
  • Understand Yalom’s development from psychiatrist to writer, and the common threads linking the two fields.
  • Hear Yalom’s take on the development of group and existential therapy.
  • Learn about the core themes of the therapeutic relationship, including using the here and now, countertransference, and therapeutic creativity.

Length of video: 1:00:27

Number of Discs: 1

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-400-2

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-401-0

Psychiatrist and author Irvin Yalom, MD has been a major figure in the field of psychotherapy since he first wrote The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy in 1970 (now in it's 5th edition). Other significant contributions have included Existential Psychotherapy, and NY Times Bestseller Loves Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy. He has written four novels on psychotherapy: When Nietzsche Wept, Lying on the Couch, The Schopenhauer Cure, and The Spinoza Problem.  His works, translated into over 20 languages, have been widely read by therapists and non-therapists alike. Visit Dr. Yalom's website.


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CE credits: 1

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand Yalom’s development from psychiatrist to writer, and the common threads linking the two fields.
  • Hear Yalom’s take on the development of group and existential therapy.
  • Learn about the core themes of the therapeutic relationship, including using the here and now, countertransference, and therapeutic creativity.
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