Review: The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

I must confess that I was drawn to this book by the title – I mean, isn’t this something almost everyone needs, the courage to be disliked? Just the title is somewhat misleading, though. This is really a primer on the psychology of Alfred Adler, written in a dialogue style between the two authors. The dialogue style wasn’t my favorite, and I found myself not being able to relate on many occasions to the conversations they were having.

I also am not a huge fan of Adlerian psychology, although I understand that I probably don’t fully grasp the concepts. For example, Adler believed that there is no such thing as trauma. If I say “I’m traumatized by my dad because he beat me growing up”, Adler would say “no, you don’t want to have a relationship with your dad, so you are creating trauma”. I don’t think he’s saying suffering isn’t real – I think it’s more about taking responsibility for the here and now – but still, I don’t like how it’s framed.

Overall, then, I did not like this book. But the weird thing is that there are several quotes and concepts that really DID resonate with me. For example, he asks the question “whose task is this?” to delineate boundaries. Not really a new concept, but a new way to ask the question “who does this belong to?”. Also, he says that the courage to be free includes the courage to be disliked – meaning that if you don’t have the courage to be disliked, you’ll always be living someone else’s life.

Anyway, if you are a philosophical type who likes really complex discussion and arguments, you might like this book and its format. It’s not one that I’ll be keeping on my shelf, but I’m not sorry I read it!

The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from books purchased from this link.

Review: Sometimes Therapy is Awkward by Nicole Arzt

Nicole Arzt is a licensed therapist and also runs the funny Instagram account “psychotherapy memes”. This book is really mainly for therapists; and especially those therapists who are fairly new to the field. Although, I have been a therapist for 20 years and I also really enjoyed it.

Arzt starts out dispelling a bunch of myths about therapists – that we are all secure and confident, that we have our sh*t together all the time, etc. This is a great starting point for this book because it really highlights the fact that we are all just human and doing the best we can. She then launches into insecurity and the many ways that it shows up for therapists. It’s easy to think that therapists always know exactly what to do with their clients (especially if you read a lot of therapy books!) but it’s just not the case.

She talks about getting into the right mindset to be successful and talks about how to even approach your very first therapy session. If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, join the club! Arzt is very encouraging on this front.

She also talks about how to be a good employee and team player; how to set good boundaries as a therapist; how to cope with burnout and fatigue; and some of the ways that the modern world has transformed therapy and being a therapist.

I really recommend this book if you are starting out as a therapist – I’m personally handing it to all my associates. But even if you’ve been a therapist awhile, you’ll find it valuable – the best part is just feeling like you can be REAL and that it’s ok to just be a regular human.

Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from purchases made through this link.

Review: The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy by Karin Blak

I was so excited when I saw this book on Net Galley and immediately requested a copy. There is so much misinformation out there about therapy, finding a therapist, what to expect from therapy and so forth. Indeed, I’ve often wanted to write just this book. Unfortunately, this is not the book I wanted to read, and that I think is needed. Some of this may have to do with the fact that Blak is from the UK, and it’s possible that things are just done vastly different there than here in the US. So if you’re from the UK, you might find more value in this book, but in the US you will find some inaccuracies.

For example, Blak says that any good therapist should have regular supervision and that you should ask about it to make sure. Apparently that continues to be a requirement for licensed therapists in the UK, but here in the US this is not so. In the US, most states have a requirement for supervision throughout the training period to become a therapist, but not once you are licensed. Now, I DO agree that every good therapist should have peer support and a supervisory type therapist that they could consult with; and I personally think every therapist should have their own therapy. But these are not requirements here.

There are also some weird little quirky pieces of advice, like a therapist should not shake your hand at the first session, and they shouldn’t offer you a warm drink. I think it’s fine to say “some therapists may not shake your hand or offer you a drink” in the service of warning clients that these common cultural practices might not exist in the therapy world. But I have often shaken my clients hands when first meeting them, and I have a tea cart in my waiting room as many therapists do. I believe these to be personal decisions that therapists make based on their theoretical leanings and personalities – but I certainly do not believe that these are boundary violations and you should steer clear of therapists that do this. And I think that it’s a disservice to advise people to avoid these therapists. She also says that therapists will have you make a list of your support circle and advise you to have conversations with them. Again, this may be something your therapist does, based on your issues and the therapist’s style, but Blak presents this is an expectation you should have from any therapist you see, and that’s just not true.

In addition to these things (which I think are just purely wrong), she says some other things that I just personally disagree with. She says that therapists have a “shelf life” of about 15 years. I disagree. Some therapists may burnout after a number of years, but I feel this is due to a gap in training, and we need more education on how to achieve longevity. I also know some very good therapists who have been in the field for many, many years and show no signs of wear and tear. And she makes some pretty firm claims about things that I disagree with – for example, at one point she says: “Depression is frequently the cause of suppressed anger”. Okay, she does say “frequently” and not “always”, but still. There are so many potential causes of suppressed anger – abuse, trauma, self-hate – to name just a few. I just do not think that therapists should make these kinds of blanket statements, especially in a book geared towards people who know nothing about psychotherapy and could easily take this as gospel truth.

For those who may be still interested in reading this book, here is a list of topics covered: Debunking myths about therapy; supervision; choosing a type of therapy and therapist; diagnoses; first session tips; the therapeutic relationship; how to spot unethical therapy; challenges in therapy; how therapy might affect us and our relationships; and ending therapy.

Again, I wish with all my heart I was giving this book a 5 star review. We do need a book like this that a layperson could read to give them a look at what they can expect. But this book is just not it.

Disclaimer: The link above is an Amazon affiliate link and I receive a small compensation from orders placed through this link.