1-Sentence-Summary: Maybe You Should Talk To Someone will help you feel more comfortable with using therapy to improve your mental health by giving a candid look into how therapy really works from the point of view of an experienced therapist who also found herself needing it.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
What is therapy?
There are many types, but psychotherapy involves meeting with a therapist to develop positive thinking and coping skills to treat mental health illness or past trauma. And it helps a lot of people.
But many people that need help don’t seek it out. One study says that 1 in 5 Americans have a mental illness, and only around 50% of those with moderate-to-severe impairment seek help. There are many reasons someone wouldn’t go to therapy when they need it. But for Lori Gottlieb, it was hard because she was a professional therapist herself.
In Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, she recounts being left reeling after a breakup with the person she thought would be her forever. This book is a fascinating peek into psychotherapy from the perspective of a therapist who needed it herself.
Here are the 3 best lessons I got from this book:
- Most patients who come to therapy have problems deeper than what it seems when they come in.
- Patients use defense mechanisms to avoid the truth, and good therapists can see through this.
- Letting your emotions out it the key making progress in therapy.
Are you ready to dive into the world of therapy and learn more about yourself in the process?
Lesson 1: Often, patients who come in have problems that are a lot deeper than what it first seems.
The first question you’ll get when you go into a therapist’s office will be some version of, “Tell me what brings you here today?” The answer to this question is what is known as the presenting problem. It’s the problem that they come in with hopes of finding a solution. Sometimes it can be something specific, but often it’s something more general, such as feeling “trapped.”
Whatever this problem is, it’s usually not the real underlying problem. If they want a real solution, the therapist needs to discover the underlying problem. An example of this Gottlieb encountered was a patient she calls John. He came in with general problems like insomnia and problems with his wife and his job. He came wanting more sleep and a place to vent about his personal issues.
It turned out, however, that his problems were a lot deeper than they seemed. It took six months of inappropriate behavior such as texting during their conversations and interrupting before she learned of his traumatic past.
His mother was hit by a car and killed when he was six, and his young son died in a car accident. These events led to him developing emotional problems such as not being able to be vulnerable and suppressing his grief. Once he learned to acknowledge his past and grief and be more vulnerable, he could solve his problems.
Lesson 2: In order to avoid painful feelings, we use defense mechanisms that therpists need to see through.
If there’s one thing we hate as human beings, it’s painful emotions. Loneliness, sadness, stress, can be so powerful that they can make you physically ill.
Instead of dwelling on the painful things of our past, many of us tend to push them deep inside because it seems easier, but in the long term is worse. We may use defense mechanisms to ward off the threat of therapy opening our old wounds.
When the author was left by her longtime boyfriend, she would fixate on his misdeeds as a defense mechanism. But it took up all of the time in the therapy sessions, preventing them from facing the real underlying problems. Her therapist was able to pick up on helpful clues though.
She would say things about her life being “half over.” This clued him in that there was more on her mind then the end of her relationship—- she was also dealing with distress over the end of her life one day. When they addressed this they could work on coping with those feelings.
Lesson 3: Finding freedom and letting your emotions out is the key to making progress.
Many people come to therapy feeling trapped.
Gottlieb shares the stories of an elderly woman feeling socially isolated and a woman feeling doomed with a terminal cancer diagnosis. In some cases, there is no way to get unstuck, like with a tragic cancer diagnosis. But helping them is about helping them regain a sense of freedom.
For the woman with cancer, this was learning to live her life to the fullest by taking risks she wouldn’t before.
In the case of the woman who is feeling social isolation, it was learning to reconnect with others and getting past the fear of getting hurt.
The key to making progress is finding a way to express painful emotions. For John, the man who had lost his young son, it was crying it out. The woman with cancer needed to swear about it.
The acknowledgment of repressed feelings is known as “breaking open.” They let down the guard and face those feelings head-on. It isn’t an instant fix, but once you acknowledge the existence of these emotions you can start to work on them.
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone Review
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is a compelling look into what it’s like to be on both sides of therapy as both the therapist and the patient. We learn how therapy really works, and why it’s so helpful for people. She also helps get through the misconceptions and explains what therapy isn’t. We gain a better understanding of how our emotional lives really work.
Who would I recommend the Maybe You Should Talk To Someone summary to?
The 21-year-old who is interested in going into social work, the 49-year-old who is dealing with emotional problems and is considering getting help, anyone who wants a fascinating look into the world of psychotherapy.