• Elspeth Robertson

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: Book Review

I first saw this book with its striking blue cover on the shelves of Indigo back in the summer of 2019. There were many, many copies prominently displayed and I thought "who is this person writing about therapy in a way that is celebrated ... rather than shamefully stuffed in a back corner somewhere"?

The answer is Lori Gottlieb, author of Maybe You Should Talk to Somone: A Therapist, Her Therapist and Our Lives Revealed. I was intrigued by the premise: a therapist writes about her clients and her personal experience in therapy. I felt seen just in this description - "Hey, I am a therapist who also goes to therapy!" Yet, when I have said this aloud before, I am sometimes met with incredulousness. People wonder, can I be a "good" therapist if I need therapy myself? The answer is a resounding "yes!". Although mental health awareness has come a long way, there is still a prominent cultural assumption that therapy is a shameful process. For me, therapy has allowed me to grow and expand as a person and offered me countless tools for navigating the world. I am not ashamed to do my own personal therapy. I do not have all of the answers just because I am a therapist. I struggle and suffer and grow and change and criticize and laugh and cry and procrastinate and have a hard time motivating myself to do the dishes just like everyone else. And so does every other therapist.

So, it is safe to say that I was intrigued and excited to read this book. I joined the long waitlist at the library and eagerly waited for it to be my turn. Let me tell you, this book did not disappoint. I noticed right away why it is so popular: Gottlieb is able to embrace her own vulnerability and tell her client's stories with gentleness and humour that has you rooting for even the most annoying and conceited of her clients. She captures their fragile and messy humanity, and in the process uncovers her own. Her therapist Wendell is fascinating, and it is so interesting to see how her therapy process unfolds with him - how she often falls into the same thinking traps that she helps her own clients navigate. It is reminiscent of the scene in The Wizard of Oz when the wizard is revealed to be just a man behind a curtain. The therapist is revealed to be just another human.

The writing is elegant and compelling, the narratives heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. I felt drawn into these people's stories, the depth of honesty and vulnerability shared within the pages. Gottlieb writes profoundly about simple human truths and the resiliency of the human spirit.

If you have ever wondered what the therapy process is like, or indeed if maybe you should talk to someone, this book is a great place to start.