What happens when a psychotherapist’s life falls apart? She finds her own therapist. But it turns out that beginning therapy, and then muddling through it, is just as hard for professionals as it is for the rest of us.
In Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, Los Angeles-based therapist Lori Gottlieb details her search for a therapist she doesn’t know but might begin to trust and the way her own defenses and blind spots trip her up as she tries to get over an unexpected breakup. As Gottlieb undertakes her own therapy journey, she continues to see her usual roster of patients, and she introduces us to four of them (identities disguised), each with their own array of quirks, longings and suffering. As Gottlieb’s patients proceed (often painfully) through their sessions, so does Gottlieb with her new therapist, Wendell. And we get to listen in through this unusual combination of memoir, self-help guide and therapy primer.
Before Gottlieb trained as a therapist, she worked as a writer for TV shows like “E.R.” She’s also a columnist for The Atlantic and the author of Marry Him, and her varied background shows in her writing, which is warm, approachable and funny—a pleasure to read.
“I’ve always been drawn to stories—not just what happens, but how the story is told,” Gottlieb writes. In showing us how patients tell themselves what turns out to be just a part of their stories, she also gives us a satisfying set of narratives. As we watch Gottlieb and her patients learn to tell the rest of their own stories and move beyond their pain, we find some surprising insights and even a bit of wisdom.