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Cup of Jo’s First Book Club Meeting!

Cup of Jo book club

Ok, everyone, pull up a chair and grab your beverage of choice: This is Cup of Jo’s first book club meeting! Our book is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (here’s the initial invitation), and I’m excited to discuss it with you. Here’s how this will work…

maybe you should talk to someone book

Below, in this post, I’ve interviewed the author, Lori Gottlieb, and then in the comments section, we’ll discuss the book together. I’ll post questions in pink and you can answer them in the comment threads. Does that make sense? We’ll see how well this format feels, and we can always switch it up for future book club meetings! Please give any and all feedback. xo

Ok, here goes! Here’s my chat with Lori…

Joanna: When people search for a therapist, they often describe it like dating. Do you think people generally have to try out a few to find ‘the one’?
Lori: Yes, I always tell people that the first session is a consultation. It’s not like the first person you go on a date with, you get married to. You should think: Do I feel understood? Do I feel like this person ‘gets it’? And then go back for a second session. It could take a month before you really feel like, This is my therapist.

In the book, I couldn’t believe how layered and thoughtful your side of therapy was. To be honest, I always assumed therapy was essentially just talking.
I used to be a competitive chess player, and I think the strategic part of therapy is a lot like that. You make a move, and your patient will make a move, and maybe it wasn’t the move you expected, and then you have to adjust your strategy and make a different move. Therapists are planning several moves ahead — when I say something, I’m going somewhere. But just because it’s strategic doesn’t mean it’s not authentic. I’m always thinking, how do I get this person to hear what I want them to hear?

What’s it like at cocktail parties to say you’re a therapist? Do people freeze up or start telling you their biggest secrets?
You get the range! Some people immediately want to find a way to get away from you because they think you’re going to psychoanalyze them. But if you meet an ob-gyn, it’s not like they’re going to give you a pelvic exam right there!

In the book, I loved how you grew to care so much for each patient, even if they were rude or downcast or frustrating. Why do you think this is?
When I was training, a supervisor said, ‘There’s something likable in everyone, Lori, and it’s your job to find it.’ As a therapist, you find the universal struggles that we all have underneath whatever kind of presentation they bring to you. Someone like John, who’s very abrasive and insulting, you think, WHY does he have to keep everyone away through that behavior? Out in the world, it’s hard to give someone a chance, but in the therapy room, I know they’re communicating with me through their behavior. I need to find a way to have them communicate with me through their words.

That’s so compassionate.
In the end, the relationship with the therapist is the most important part of therapy — more than the training, modality of therapy, etc. You’re having this very rich relationship with your therapist that serves as a microcosm of the relationships you have outside the room.

Is it satisfying to see people change?
It really is. It’s a hard job but I think it’s the best job in the world. It’s so gratifying to be with people as they transform themselves.

Do you miss patients when they leave?
I do! I do. But sometimes I’m the one who tells them that it’s time. I think there’s this myth that you go into therapy, talk about your childhood ad nauseam and never leave. But we want you to be able to leave, to have an experience here and be able to take that experience into the world. It’s like having kids — you want them to grow up and be independent.

What were some surprising reactions you got from people after they read the book?
When I started writing, everyone told me that no one wanted to read a book about therapy. But it was a book I felt like I had to write, so I thought, whatever happens happens. I never would have guessed how many people would read it — we’re still on the New York Times bestseller list! I’m surprised by how people have embraced the book because they recognize themselves in the characters.

I recognized myself in the characters, too.
A lot of people feel unique in their struggles, but it helps to see that their particular struggles are actually universal. The patients I follow in the book look very different on the surface, but underneath it all we’re all very similar: How can I love and be loved? What does it mean to connect? What does forgiveness mean? How do we stop shooting ourselves in the foot and end up in the same place over and over? How do we look at the parts we’re not proud of without shame so we can do something differently? I hope people reading the book see how normal they are and how connected they are to everyone else.

Julie, the young cancer patient, decides to spend Saturdays working at Trader Joe’s, and you talk about how that’s important to her. What do you have on your own bucket list?
It’s interesting — it actually wasn’t on her bucket list. She was instead thinking about what, on a day-to-day basis, will feel meaningful and bring her joy. And that’s what we all need to do — we need to have that kind of intentionality not always about those big, long-term things, but instead, what is my goal about how I want to live right now? Most people, we don’t think about the fact that life has 100% mortality rate. It’s good to have this uncertainty about how long we have — who or what is important in my life, and what can I do about that right now? Because what I have is right now.

One thing I’ve thought a lot about since reading the book is silence. You talk about the value of sitting with someone in silence. Can you talk about that?
People — when driving or walking to therapy — often rehearse what they’re going to talk about and find a topic or agenda like a meeting. It’s like the first things that we say out loud in therapy are like emptying the trash. But once they say something and then sit in silence, I want to know what happens in that silence because that’s what they haven’t been able to think yet. They can hear themselves so much more clearly when they aren’t talking over themselves. You have these voices all the time, like a radio on in the background, and it isn’t until we’re quiet that we can hear what the voices are saying.

Soon, there will be a TV adaptation of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. Can you tell us about it?
It’s being produced by Eva Longoria’s company. The show will be about regular people who happen to go to therapy and regular people who happen to be therapists. You see all their personal lives and all the ways the stories are interwoven.

What do you hope people take away from your book?
There’s nothing more important to the quality of our lives than our emotional lives. It affects everything — our intimate relationships, our friendships, our professional goals… Therapy isn’t ‘extra’ in the same way that our physical health isn’t ‘extra.’ I want people to realize that therapy is really important.

lori gottlieb

Thank you so much, Lori! Now, everyone, let’s discuss the book in the comments below…

P.S. How to be a good listener, and wise words.

(Top photo design by Maud Passini for Cup of Jo. Book cover and author photo courtesy of Lori Gottlieb.)

Note: If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We recommend only products we genuinely like. Thank you so much.

  1. Annie says...

    I’ve found myself wondering about Lori’s practice today and thinking about her googling Wendell and reading his mother’s long interview. If she’s still taking clients, are the patient requests overwhelming? Is it different knowing the patients now know so much more about her, or might? Did putting so much of herself out there change the dynamic in the room? So curious!

  2. Ingrid says...

    I really liked this book. I felt like I needed to read it at this point in my life. I was making big changes and dealing with an unhappy 92 year old mother, and this book helped me understand why we were both having trouble. I could really relate to the idea that change is loss, and we could want change, but still be sad. I plan to re-read it and think about the lessons even more.

  3. Charlie says...

    MB, I lost my. mom at 23 and know how hard it is. You’ll always miss her, and always love her, but just remember it does get easier. The pain will soften and in it’s place you’ll find just as much love for her.

  4. Lily says...

    I’ve run into exactly this issue! Especially in looking for low-cost options, it becomes a bit of “beggars can’t be choosers.” I’ve been lucky and been in places where there were universities where therapists-in-training were required to do therapy for sliding scale prices, but outside of that, I can’t imagine paying to meet with multiple people before deciding on one! Not only for the price but I also find the intake emotionally depleting, retelling your story to every new person! And also when you haven’t had therapy before, it can be tough to know what you’re looking for. All for making it accessible and talked-about and easier to navigate!

  5. Ashley P says...

    Absolutely LOVED this perspective. After my son was born I went to a therapist who didn’t fit. She just seemed really sad for me all the time. Like, didn’t say anything but her face said “Oh, you are sad”.

    I realize now I should have asked around haha. But this quote helped me a lot:

    “A therapist will hold up a mirror to patients, but patients will also hold up a mirror to their therapists. Therapy is far from one-sided; it happens in a parallel process. Every day, our patients are opening up questions that we have to think about for ourselves. If they can see themselves more clearly through our reflections, we can see ourselves more clearly through theirs.”

  6. Rebecca says...

    Lori,
    I adored your book. As a medical student in therapy, I connected with some of your personal story, too.

    Did you consider including a character coming to terms with and understanding their sexuality/sexual orientation?

    This can be such a complex area to broach and tackle in therapy. Hearing your recounting and reflections would have been fascinating.

    • hanna says...

      I agree!

  7. Carla says...

    First, I want to apologize, I didn’t finish the book on time. I am a slow reader but as far I am enjoying it very much. Thank you, it is an excellent choice, a very nice break, it keeps my mind away.
    I never had therapy myself but the way that I can relate is through my son who has Occupational Therapy (OT). I can relate how the patients get attached to their therapists, how they think they may get their answers, their problems solved by talking to them.
    We have been having OT for 2 years. My son is 4 years old now. We love her. I am always in the room while she is working with him so I can watch, I can learn and she gives me tips. Because it has been two years, one session every week for an hour, we have developed a relationship. I trust her. Every time I have a problem (I mean related to my son), I can’t wait to see her and ask for help. I have a strong feeling that the one who is getting more attached to the therapist is not my son is me.
    I enjoy very much the way that Lori writes, she is very funny, especially when she describes herself, her own experiences (Boyfriend situation, her as a patient….). I enjoyed very much the chapter 16, “the Whole Package”. Am I the only one?
    I really like Julie and it hurts. I still have hope for John, I keep fingers crossed (I didn’t finish the book yet). I like Rita too. She reminds me so much of my neighbor who wants to find love again in her seventies but struggles.
    The fact that Lori needed to see a therapist, Wendell, being a therapist herself is interesting. Why is it so hard to analyze ourselves? My husband often tells me that it is a pity that I cannot take my own advice for myself.
    I found fascinating that most of the patients come with a problem thinking that it is their main problem when it is something else that it is hidden in their minds.
    Thank you Cup of Jo! :-)

  8. Kelsey says...

    This book was so incredible. I read it right after a breakup and it was so healing to me. I learned so much from it—it felt like therapy in itself.

  9. I liked the book. About 1/2 way through it, Lori was starting to drive me crazy (like some of the posters above wrote…. I found her a little tone-deaf and self consumed). But I’m glad I stuck with it because I think she softened and the book got better. I did years of therapy myself, with a wonderful, (male) therapist who was harsher than many might be comfortable but he called me on my own bullsh*t. I needed that. and I think many people need that to truly improve. I think Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “there is no growth without self accountability” and those are words to live by.

    Thanks CoJ for giving us space to think out loud.

  10. Estefanía says...

    This book was so interesting to read!!!

    I would like to make a suggestion for the book club: “Lost Children Archive” by Valeria Luiselli.

    The author was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. She is an acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, and this book have been selected as one of The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2019: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/06/books/review/lost-children-archive-valeria-luiselli.html
    The book is political but it is mostly the story of a family, the intimacy of a couple, and a road trip as a metaphor of life changes. It is really delightful!

  11. Jess says...

    I think this book was good way to show people that therapy can be normal. There is this huge stigma around receiving counseling, like it automatically makes you “insane” or “damaged” but that’s just not it. Most people can benefit from having someone to talk to, a certified professional, in order to feel like their emotions are validated and “normal”. Mental health has been a taboo subject for so long and a book like this one can help bridge the gap and open a forum for conversation. I have recommended this book to several of my friends who are weary about the idea of therapy and I hope it helps them feel like its an acceptable avenue when you’re struggling.

  12. MB says...

    I really enjoyed reading this book; I probably wouldn’t have picked it out myself if you hadn’t suggested it. I’m currently in therapy after the recent sudden loss of my mom, and I hate to even imagine how I would be managing without the support of my therapist. She’s helped validate the depths of my grief, my stress over living far away from family with a toddler and baby, and how to go on when I could barely pick myself up off the floor. I’m so grateful to have insurance coverage and feel relieved that I’ve found a way to get the support I need during this incredibly difficult time in my life. I found it very interesting to hear from Lori’s perspective as a therapist and some of the bigger themes she’s working with with her clients, as well as how the therapy process helped her process things in her own life to move forward more freely.

  13. I loved this book! I listened to it and it felt so intimate. The “characters” felt so real and I loved hearing where their stories went.

  14. Dana says...

    This was a ton of fun! I loved knowing fellow Cup of Jo readers were taking in the same book as I was – it had me in a more reflective state while I was reading.

    I like this format, to be able to reflect in my own time through writing.

    I would love for you to try a more interactive approach next time. A webinar with the author perhaps, where readers could submit questions, and we could chat in the chat box. I would appreciate anything that has us get together at the same time, and feel connected to one another during this tough time.

    Any idea when the next book will be announced? I’m excited to get reading!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you! This is a great idea.

    • Natalie T. says...

      I like this idea too. I like the back and forth of a conversation but find that this format wasn’t the best. I also like the idea of talking to the author directly and having us all together at once. But! I thought it was a great book pick and can’t wait to finish it. It’s made me think a lot about myself, my therapeutic practice, and the topic of therapy in general. Thank you Jo and Lori!

    • Juliana says...

      Yes, I like this idea, too! Can’t wait for the next book to be announced!

  15. Caly says...

    I enjoyed the book but wish that she would have included some cases of patients that were not so extreme. I would have enjoyed reading about someone who was dealing with more common and mundane problems (stress at work, balancing a family, problems with a mother in law…) rather than such life shattering circumstances (cancer, death of a child). That being said, everyone will find a character to relate to in the book which makes it perfect for a book club. It’s an easy read and the humor makes it more enjoyable.

  16. Natalie T. says...

    I’m half way through the book but I’m really enjoying it.
    I know Lori wrote “Marry Him” over 10 years ago. I’m really curious how she feels about dating then and now – having been with (Ex) Boyfriend and where she is now in dating and life (not sure if this is answered at the end of the book). It makes me realize we all blind ourselves to things that are pretty clear but it’s a distraction of bigger issues. (I certainly realized this through my own therapeutic process.)

    I also want to talk about shopping for therapists. I found when I was looking for one that they all seemed to charge their regular rate. It was more of a “okay, let’s start and get into it” and each one is costing up to $200 per session from the get-go. Do therapists not have consulting rates? And how are you supposed to find one if it’s going to cost that much?! Sort of a complaint but also a genuine inquiry on how to find your fit if it’s at that cost.

    If mental health is health (and I truly believe that), I do hope that therapy can be accessible for all (and how do we make that happen). And how do therapists not get burnt out?! (Other than going to therapy themselves.)

  17. Julia says...

    I was really surprised how the people who are in therapy are blaming their problems on everyone around them. When I went to therapy, I went because I thought I needed fixing (specifically, my bouts of anxiety). Why would people go to therapy if they think their problems are all caused by their environment? (Or maybe they go because they secretly don’t believe that?) It seemed like several patients took a reeeaaally long time to admit that they might have to change.

    • Lauren E. says...

      As the wife of someone who has been in therapy for a long time and spent years there before the REAL work began, I think a lot of people deep down know they need help but for a long time they’ve been completely on their own and they’re defensive. To admit you’re at fault for even one tiny thing can feel like owning up to having done EVERYTHING wrong. I’m in therapy for very different reasons, and mine and my husband’s journeys have been extremely different.

  18. Nicole M K says...

    This book surprised me. It actually helped me to realize I was behind prison bars like Wendell said. I identified strongly with Lori. I share the same fears especially with regard to my sons especially during this difficult time we are facing.

    I liked all of the characters. I did not think I was going to like John but I ended up liking him a lot and was thrown by Gabe. That was an emotional moment for me while I read. I loved Rita and Julie and the the contrast of their lives.

    This book made me take a breath and realize that happiness is sometimes and I have to work on learning how to let it be.

    Thank you Lori and thank you Cup of Jo for this book club.

  19. Elise Fuller says...

    I appreciated how Lori wove in key aspects of psycotherapy by exploring the stories and experiences of different patients. I particularly connected with Rita, John and Lori! the most. I was literally sobbing my eyes out for Julie at the end but I probably didn’t connect with her as much because her tribulations and experiences are very different than mine. I loved how Lori used small and seemingly simple examples to show big concepts, like Rita and the tissues or John and his phone. John really got under my skin in the beginning but thanks to Lori, I was able to find the good in him and his humor/deflection became tolerable and dare I say lovable too. This book has many layers, full of substance and it had me self-inflecting in a positive way that felt fulfilling. I’m currently in therapy and have been for awhile now and I think it’s important to emphasize and reiterate what some other readers have mentioned. It’s an investment in yourself and it will translate into every aspect of your life! Also, like Lori mentioned in the book, it will not only change you but also has the ability to change the people around you or your relationships with those people. EAP does offer 5 or 6 covered sessions but I felt like the real work began after those sessions. I’ve done some hard work with my therapist and it’s not easy by any means but I am beginning to understand my behavior which has been revolutionary. I can’t recommend this book or therapy enough. Thank you Lori! Thank you Cup of Jo!

  20. Scarlett says...

    Never has a book made me cry like this one did. I haven’t been able to finish a book in ages, but I could not put this one down. It started a little slow, I think I got bored of the boyfriend drama, but as the author moves on and explores bigger topics, the more I got sucked in. Beautiful writing, I saw myself in each of the people in the book. Thanks for pointing this one out, it was a true pleasure to read!

  21. Kate the Great says...

    The dance with Wendell at the very end threw me. I was expecting a couple’s dance: hands on waists, hands together. Nothing sexual, of course, but the male leads. Did anyone else think this?

  22. Kate says...

    I read the hardcover last summer, serendipitously available at the library, soon after I asked my husband of 27 years to leave (after learning he had been lying to me about going to therapy, of all things).

    Not sure of Lori’s wording but I glommed onto this idea:
    “Feeling less is *not* feeling better”
    I typed it as an email Subject to myself and see it in my Inbox every day.

    It helped me let the feelings flow, after a lifetime of gritting my teeth and getting on. And was able to see both of us were hiding from each other. Thanks, Lori.

    • Rebecca says...

      I sent myself this email just now, too. Thanks.

    • Kara says...

      Yes! This concept really hit home with me. One of those things I now want to tell everyone I care about.

  23. Kate the Great says...

    When John first mentioned Gabe, I was so sure that his daughter had undergone a sex change. Did anyone else think this? Or something different than The Car Accident?

    • Tamara says...

      Yes! That was my first thought too!

    • Kate says...

      I thought Gabe was going to be an older son who had stopped talking to him because Gabe thought John was an idiot.

  24. Kathryn Cox says...

    Thank you so much for choosing this book. Lori really opened my eyes to someone undergoing therapy and its enormous life changing benefits! Having the right therapist/patient combination can lead to emotional awareness and understanding of oneself. Bravo to Lori for having the insightfulness and compassion towards her patients. Thank you so much for writing this book!

  25. Lindsay says...

    Thank you so much, Joanna! I had been wanting to read this book for so long. and I really loved it. It made me think, made me miss my therapist (we moved last summer so had to part ways), and reminded me (again) why it’s so important to care for our mental health! I love this no-pressure book club format, and you are the best interviewer! Sending you big hugs from CA.

  26. Erica says...

    I love this so much! I actually started reading this book while dating someone and finished it directly after our breakup. It’s as if Lori was speaking straight to my soul. Lines like “she had control but had lost herself” or the chapters about joy and meaning, abandonment and fear or seeing people through their pain regardless of personal trauma was so beautiful and exhilarating.

    I will never forget on my birthday (Feb 26) when I had just read the chapter “Welcome To Holland” and was sitting around the dinner table at my favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy, telling my friends about how wildly this book was impacting me. I think that’s something I will hold onto forever, the notion that “we might not be in Italy (no pun intended), but we’re in Holland and what beautiful things are here that we can’t get anywhere else?” That’s been so wonderful to realize even in the midst of this pandemic. THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    And Lori, thank you for your note at the very end of your interview with Joanna “There’s nothing more important to the quality of our lives than our emotional lives. It affects everything — our intimate relationships, our friendships, our professional goals… Therapy isn’t ‘extra’ in the same way that our physical health isn’t ‘extra.’ I want people to realize that therapy is really important.”

    Because of my own therapist (and this book!) I decided to leave NYC for my family’s home in Los Angeles two weeks ago to not only be with those I loved the most but to focus on my mental state and where I was at in life: post-breakup and alone in tiny nyc apartment. Im so glad I made a decision based on my mental state instead of acting in fear. Thank you again!

  27. Lee says...

    Thank you Joanna for starting this virtual book club! I am interested to see how it takes shape. The Cup Of Jo community is such a thoughtful and interesting group of people, I am sure the discussion will be quite insightful. I just finished A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum and it was excellent. I highly recommend it for our next read. I devoured it in a couple of sittings because of how compelling the story is and how alive the characters feel. While it focuses on the lives of several Pakistani American women, the universal connections abound. I loved it and find myself thinking about it weeks later, a tell tale sign of a book that has left it’s mark. In particular, it got me thinking about how places shapes us; the balance of who we are innately versus who we are within the confines of where we dwell.

    • Anna says...

      A Woman Is No Man is actually about Palestinian Women, not Pakistani.

    • Lee says...

      Yes Anna! I am sorry, I got that wrong. Thank you.

  28. Sarah says...

    As a therapist in private practice, it made me laugh a little (in a gentle way, not a judgmental way) to hear Joanna confess she used to think of therapy as just talking. There are many different ways to think about and practice therapy, but all therapists are thinking about the meaning and information being conveyed beyond the basic content-level of the therapy session (not just WHAT you talk about, but HOW you talk about it).

    I understand why some people didn’t love the chess analogy used by Lori, as it could imply a game where there are winners and losers, but I think what she’s getting at is that its the therapist’s job, in part, not just to endlessly validate a client (the “you go girl” therapy style she mentions in her book), but to help them become more aware of how they move through the world and show up in relationships (and what values, beliefs, expectations, and wounds are driving those patterns). And developing awareness is not always comfortable or easy–we have defenses for a reason. Other than maybe our marriage relationships or really close friendships, it’s pretty rare that we comment on the immediate behavior of the other and explore our feelings and motivations in great depth. From personal experience as both client and therapist, it can feel liberating and exhilarating to talk openly about the dynamics of a relationship (I’m telling the truth and discovering new things in the process!) , but it can also feel risky (because we aren’t used to giving and receiving feedback so transparently–holy shit, this is scary and I’m sweating). To me, the chess analogy gets at the reality that I am always thinking about how and when to share my experience and observations OF the client, WITH the client, in the service of their greater self-knowledge and self-integration.

    • M says...

      Sarah, I am a client in therapy and I feel your comment as well! I started therapy a year ago for one small specific issue, and therapy has blossomed into this awesome space for me to explore myself, my relationships, my habits. I agree what you said, “it can feel liberating and exhilarating to talk opening about the dynamics of a relationship.”

      My therapy is evolved into realizing that at a very young age, I formed some mal-adaptive patterns with how I relate to other people, and I’m now watching those things happen in therapy and learning from them. One example – I felt resentful of my therapist for doing something, and we talked in real-time about that feeling of resentment I had towards him. Later I was reflecting that I have never (and may never) have a calm, extremely vulnerable conversation with another human being where I look them in the eye and tell them I resent them, and that person doesn’t get defensive or avoidant, and instead we just talk about it with the goal of understanding that feeling in me. It’s like an amazing opportunity to practice your feelings and understand where they come from, to better understand yourself. I went from being a huge skeptic about therapy to a big believer in it, and feeling like it’s a gift.

  29. Adel says...

    I’d like to know if Boyfriend got to read the book before it was published, and if he was okay with it. There’s a whole lot of him in this book, and for those who know them both, i imagine there’s no question about his true identity…

    • Kate the Great says...

      If I were Lori, I wouldn’t have asked his permission. He chose to break up with a writer– this is what he gets.

    • Anon says...

      I didn’t read the book (though I plan to) and this is a general comment in no way related to this book.

      A message to Kate:
      I am not sure I agree…
      To some degree, we are all writers… you could be dating a writer who hasn’t started writing, yet. And is it ethical to share private details as facts (These “facts” that are from one perspective only, and shared as seen through our own biases and memories… not always accurate)?

      With this reasoning, I can’t help but wonder, if you dated a photographer, would that give him/her the right to display intimate pictures he/she took of you while you were dating? My point is that you trust the person with whom you are intimate to keep those things shared during your time together private. Otherwise, how can you ever trust or truly be yourself around any close relationship? There has to be some integrity, some sense of respect for the share secrets both of you will keep.

    • Adel says...

      Haha Kate that is funny! Although I do tend to agree with Anon- the trust of intimacy that should extend far beyond the relationship, and the idea that we each perceive “facts” through our own lenses

  30. Jamie says...

    I went to therapy twice in my life, both when I was going through really hard times. At the time, it didn’t feel productive and both times I stopped going. I resolved to believe that therapy really wasn’t helpful and its better to talk to friends about your problems.

    But Lori’s book really challenged that idea for me. I saw how thoughtful she was and the strategies she used to stay objective and try to help in a way a friend really couldn’t or isn’t trained to.

    • M says...

      Yes! The book makes me want to meet with a therapist myself. But the idea of finding someone compatible seems daunting.

  31. Aside from all her experience as a therapist, I was actually very inspired by Lori’s path of finding her calling as a therapist – from a Hollywood assistant to TV script writer to med school to journalism to therapist… what a ride! Each experience reveals something about her values, until she ultimately found her truth.

    It makes me realize that sometimes it is ok to not have found what you would love to do as a career just yet in your twenties – one thing would lead to another eventually, as long as you take courage in pursuing what feels right for you … even if it is something you do on the side after your work.

    To other readers, has this been what your career path looking like as well?

    • Ceridwen says...

      Yes! I found that really fascinating too. I loved reading about her career moves. I have always admired and been interested in people who change careers. They don’t necessarily fi d that one passion straight away and can enjoy lots of different work experiences. Those experience build on each other, culminated experience doesn’t mean you’ve given up one thing, you’re just growing and moving. You could see what a curious person she is and willing to take risks. I’ve always been in the same industry and had many different roles within it. Sometimes I feel bad that I haven’t changed work places in a long time like others do, be more courageous, but I realise I have done different things along the way. Still, I wonder what I would do if I changed careers entirely. I admit to googling clinical psychology!

    • Lee says...

      Agreed! I too had a winding path to the career that fulfills me and related to Lori’s change of heart. Actually, after about 15 years I am thinking it’s time for another career change. While I still love aspects of my current occupation, I’m feeling like I need a new challenge.
      I think this is not just “o.k.” but natural, for me at least. As I get to know myself better, I have a better idea of what careers suits my individual needs and strengths. Plus, as we grow into the people we want to be, those things change. So, why wouldn’t our careers and purpose?

    • H says...

      I agree so much with your comment, Grace! I am 28 and have done a few things but haven’t found ‘the one’ yet. I always feel “behind” while everyone else builds their career and climbs the ladder, making more progress, while I’m still trying to figure it out. I found so much encouragement in learning about the career path of the author, and even learning about how John’s intended career path took a turn as well.

    • Yes, I’m so glad you brought this up, Grace. I’m a very new therapist and also trying to be a creative writer.

      Similar to Lori, I went back to grad school to study clinical psychology at age 37 after both my kids finally started elementary school. At 40, I am only now beginning this career. Before that I was a freelance writer. I also dabbled in a few other jobs that did not satisfy me or last very long (massage therapist, grant writer, teaching, social worker).

      I was always embarrassed by thsi, as though I didn’t have my life together. But Lori’s book made me feel so validated: It’s okay to change careers! It’s okay to be two things (writer and therapist)! It’s okay to be a middle aged beginner!

      This book also made me reframe my narrative that this is all just the *right* timing for me. With both therapy and writing it really helps to have life experience behind you (and I suspect that to be true with many other careers and life ventures as well).

      From the bottom of my heart, I wish you luck in your career journey. I can relate.

  32. Amanda says...

    My friend and I have a book club of two in Seattle and we read this book two months ago. I was fascinated by how Lori was able to be so open and painfully honest about her own heartbreak and struggles, be open and honest about her clients and the challenges of being a therapist, all while bringing in theorists and “meta” insights about therapy. A masterful task. I found the book an absolute page-turner. I “graduated” from my therapist last month, and I am so grateful for all my therapist taught me. I use my therapy “tools” every day. Thank you for the interview with the author! I’m excited for future book clubs, and love reading authors of color, non-binary authors, etc.

  33. Leah says...

    You’re the best interviewer, Joanna. xoxo

  34. I went to therapist once but we weren’t a good fit. The energy/courage it took me to even step foot into a therapist’s office was huge and the thought of having to go through it all again was just too much. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth giving it another shot especially now that you can talk to a therapist via video. I think getting to be at home in your own space would really make a difference for people like me who find it extremely difficult to seek help.

    • Amanda says...

      Hi Donna,
      For what it’s worth, my first therapist experience was pretty negative and they were not a good fit for me at all. I would leave each session feeling *destroyed* and emotionally exhausted. A couple of good friends convinced me not to give up, and last year I went through an online therapy service, and it was AMAZING. I had to do a detailed “intake” form in advance and I believe that’s what helped them line me up with a therapist who was a good fit for me. I left those therapy sessions feeling positive and like I had actionable next steps. So the therapist makes a huge difference in the experience. Keep trying and best of luck! xx

    • Laura says...

      The first therapist I saw was TERRIBLE (for me, anyways; obviously she was a good fit for some people since she was a well established therapist).
      I since have found a therapist who is a great fit for me. Just want you to know you are not alone in having that first try (that takes so much courage to do to begin with!) be awful. I hope you’re able to find someone who is a great fit for you too. xoxo

    • Erin says...

      Hi Donna, something that was helpful to me when looking for a therapist was to come up with a list of questions to ask them and have a telephone conversation with each one before I went to any sessions. Any good therapist should do a phone call like this for free. I asked things like: What’s your approach? What evidence base do you use in your practice? How might you work with someone who has the problem that’s bringing me to therapy? Having these phone conversations gave me a good starting point for figuring out whether I had a positive feeling about someone, and allowed me to weed out a few therapists that immediately seemed like a poor fit.

    • Emily says...

      Hi, Donna. I get it. It took me a very long time (at least three years of being unhappy) to take the steps to see a therapist. I went through Kaiser which meant first I had to get a referral from a primary physician (embarrassing), and then I got to meet the therapist. After the intake information and discussion she told me that I didn’t have a mental health issue – it was more that I had relational issues, so there was only a limited number of appointments available to me through the HMO and she suggested that I not start there only to be cut off in a couple of months. (Oh, did I mention that this therapist shared an office with an acquaintance from high school?Gah!) This doctor wasn’t wrong, but I was so exhausted (because it took a lot to get me to seek this out) that I didn’t follow through with the doctor’s she recommended for two more years. I finally did. And I paid lots of $ out of pocket. And it was awkward at first, but it ultimately lead me to make real break-throughs in life – all of this to say – I regret wasting that time and not calling – I wasted those years – I was surviving – but those years could have been better. I would say – don’t waste this time. Yes, there will be frustrations along the way, but if you’re in a much better place six months from now – isn’t that worth it?

  35. txu says...

    I loved Lori’s book and so wish that I had read it several years ago when I was seeing a therapist. When I return to therapy (which I’m looking forward to when the COVID situation eases) I think I’ll get so much more out of it after having read the book. Thank you, Lori, for this great gift to us all.

    Curious to know: “Is Lori planning another book? If so, could she tell us a little about it?”

  36. Tess says...

    My favorite line from the book that I keep repeating to myself when I notice I’m feeling stressed about something is, “happiness is reality minus expectations”. It really helps me feel calmer and let go of unnecessary expectations!

    • Jess says...

      That line really got me too! I try to think about my expectations, why I have them, and how they affect me and my ability to see/do things clearly. It’s a great filter.

    • Sally Bluhm says...

      Loved that line, too!

  37. patricia blaettler says...

    I don’t have time to read all these comments right now, but my big question is: how in the world does a therapist share all these intimate details about their patients to the world?? That just seems like it goes against all that therapy stands for.
    Did I miss something? Some explanation?

    • Claire Walker says...

      Before the first chapter Lori included an explanation about how she both obtained permission from her patients and wrote about them in the book in a way that “disguised identities and any recognizable details,” additionally she share that she combined stories or characteristics from several patients into one story. She talks more about it before the start of the book.

    • Jane says...

      I am a psychologist/practicing therapist. In advanced training programs we all learn to write about our patients (confidentially of course) because it clarifies thinking and informs technique. Psychonalytic programs especially, have a rich history of writing in depth case studies for others in the field. Writing for the general public is a complicated subject, both writing about patients and writing intimately about oneself. (Even with their consent and even when “disguised”. ). Some therapists decide not to do it for a variety of reasons. There is a whole cottage industry that discusses this very nuanced subject that involves thinking about much more than just getting formal consent and changing a few features.

    • Kate the Great says...

      I couldn’t help but try to analyze all the details she provided, especially with John and his Emmy award-winning TV sitcom. Surely it’s something we’ve all seen. Has anyone identified it based on all the details provided?
      Will and Grace? Frasier? Seinfeld? I’m wildly curious.

  38. Tara Ilsley says...

    CAN we DO world’s biggest ZOOM?

    -tara

  39. B says...

    I think I must be the only person who didn’t like this book. In my own experience with therapy, I’ve found it extremely helpful because my therapist is non judgemental and empathetic. She definitely challenges me, but does so in a open and honest way.

    I felt Lori was quite judgemental of her patients and seemed self centered. It seemed to me that she was making the therapy more about her than them. Her comments in the post about chess and strategy in trying to get the person to see what she wants them to gave me that sense as well. I feel therapy only works for me because my therapist is honest and it doesn’t feel like she is playing games.

    • Rosie says...

      You aren’t alone. See my comment below. I completely agree. I was not a fan of Lori herself.

    • Peggy says...

      B, you are not alone. Although I liked the patients, I found LORI to be whiny, and made me not want to finish the book! In fact, I still have 80 pages to go. She empathized with her patients, which was great, but when it came to her own turmoil, she was unable to open up with Wendell, and instead just complained about Boyfriend, when she should have realized it was a lost situation. Perhaps if I finish the book, I will change my mind, but I just need to gather the strength to listen to more of Lori’s self-pity.

    • sarahb says...

      B, I’m a therapist and psychologist and totally agree. It was way too much about Lori, her life, her problems, and she was front stage and center. The therapy cases didn’t feel real at all –

    • N says...

      So interesting @SarahB, especially given your experience! I’m curious, what about the therapy cases didn’t feel real to you?

    • H says...

      Thanks for saying this! I whole-heartedly agree. I have a wonderful therapist, after a few bad matches. I didn’t finish the book because I found the writing and tone off-putting and did not resonate at all with me as a patient. Glad I’m not alone!

    • Katrin says...

      I didn’t enjoy the book either because – apart from the subject matter – I thought it just wasn’t that good as a book. It’s like the author put everything she had (her personal stories, her patients’ stories, some inspirational thinking and some professional knowledge) between two covers. It doesn’t add up to a coherent or compelling whole for me.

    • Meg says...

      I also didn’t enjoy it and struggled to finish it, even though I am usually a voracious reader. The premise sounded interesting, but for me it didn’t hang together as a book. I also didn’t think it was particularly well written.

  40. Nancy Schatz Alton says...

    I’m a bookseller (very part time) and a writer. This was my favorite book last year, and we continue to sell it at the bookstore. Everyone who reads it loves it! I just reread it right when the we started to shelter in place in Seattle, and it helped so much. I must admit that while I had good therapists as a young adult, I haven’t had luck finding a match in the last decade and we just had two horrible experiences with our kiddo and counseling. Why is it so hard to find a good match, and any tips? Between people not taking our insurance, to not accepting new clients….well, maybe i’ll just keep re-reading your book!

    • Nora says...

      I wonder, too! I have had a number of therapists over the years, but only one (who does somatic therapy) has ever been more helpful than just talking to a friend.

      The other ones – I truly wonder now if they had any idea what they were doing. Nice people, but not particularly helpful.

  41. Illana says...

    I loved this book so much and as I was reading it I immediately decided that Lori needs to become my new best friend! 😂 I thought it was such a through picture of how we try so hard to put together a meaningful life. I realized that I have so many of the same feelings Lori does, and that I want to keep evolving and learning how to live more and more fully every day. Does that sound cliché nowadays? It just seems like the biggest truth ever. How to clear away whatever is in the way so that I can be my biggest and best version of myself every day, because I love myself and my life! And that’s the legacy I want my kids to know. I’m so glad you suggested this, Joanna! Would it work to do the book club via zoom next time? Would there be too many people? That seems like it would be so fun. Even if it were a lot of people, we could ‘raise our hands’ to talk or something maybe? Xoxo

  42. C. Jayabose says...

    I love COJ, the community and everything about it. :)

    Women of color authors/books that I love are:
    1. Zadie Smith – Grand Union (short stories) or White Teeth
    2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The Thing around your neck (short stories)
    or Americanah
    3. Roxane Gay – Hunger

    • Rosie says...

      I second Hunger! I’ve been wanting to do a book club style discussion of this book since I’ve had so many great one off conversations with friends.

    • Diana K. says...

      White Teeth was so beautiful.

    • Meg says...

      Americanah is the best book I’ve read in YEARS! Beautifully written and so gripping and thought-provoking.

  43. heather says...

    Definitely Lori for me. I like to have things checked off of the list like the unanswered questions from her breakup that she was looking for.

  44. CYR says...

    As a therapist who is in therapy myself, this book blew my mind. It was so beautifully and honestly written, I couldn’t put it down. So glad you chose this for your first book club book :)

  45. Alex Pearl says...

    I loved this book. I never would have picked it up without this book club. I’ve never gone to therapy and am now so curious.

    Each client’s story made me have so much patience and acceptance/compassion for people I regularly have to interact with, but otherwise don’t like for various reasons. A loving reminder that everyone struggles, and despite their behaviors, needs at least an ounce of compassion and kindness :)

  46. Louisa says...

    The way Lori talks about therapy is the way I talk about teaching – it’s so amazing to see it in action in her book, and it makes me want more books like hers about the fascinating, intellectual, empathetic work of these professions. I’m always supporting students in thinking about “what they haven’t been able to think yet,” and the fact that every student is likable (they’re so much more likable than colleagues and I don’t know why!), and planning several steps ahead in a conversation but still being responsive to students’ ideas as they come up – it’s planned but authentic. And hoping to get them somewhere, but needing THEM to get *themselves* there in their own way and words. I think I’d enjoy being a therapist because this is the work I really love in teaching!

    • Meg says...

      I’m a teacher too and after 20 years in education, I took this year off to get my counseling license. I am learning there is so much overlap between teaching and therapy.

  47. Kara says...

    I loved this book and listened to it twice! One comment I had is that Lori and Wendell really push their patients and I wish my therapist (whom I really respect) would push me more sometimes. My questions:

    1. Did anyone find themself using this book to “do therapy” on themselves? (For instance, when Lori talked about how sometimes when kids grow up in families where their feelings are pushed aside, they struggle to be in tune with their feelings, and I wonder if this is why I have a hard time of being angry and I hardly cry? I’m going to have to ask my therapist about it, ha!)

    2. Did anyone ask themselves if their real fear is being afraid to die? (In a way, don’t a lot of fears go back to this idea of death and not accomplishing what we want? If so, why don’t we talk more openly about death?)

    3. Okay, so how did Lori get permission to tell her client’s stories? Of course I loved every detail of their problems and thought it was so brave of them–and her–to reveal their struggles, but I was shocked she could tell their stories. (I also want to know John’s TV show and if Julie’s husband ever got remarried. . . so nosey, I know!)

    *COJ, if we do Zoom, I’d be interested and it could be fun to have smaller ones in different cities (like Seattle!).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for these questions, kara! “Did anyone ask themselves if their real fear is being afraid to die? (In a way, don’t a lot of fears go back to this idea of death and not accomplishing what we want? If so, why don’t we talk more openly about death?)” = yes!!! that part of wendell’s therapy stuck out so much for me. i realized some of my current thinking is so related to turning 40 last year and how i feel like i can see death in the future now. (not to be morbid!)

    • Cooper says...

      I was also fascinated by how the permission from clients worked – like did they get to read portions of the book in advance? I know at least some of the clients were composite characters, and that details were altered, but still fascinating.

      I was also so curious about what John’s TV show was! I’d love to hear guesses :)

    • Meredith says...

      Kara! #2 is spot on! I have been going to therapy for almost a year now and only recently, MONTHS in, did I realize that the bulk of my perfectionism and OCD is from a fear of death. I even said to my therapist in a recent session “All of it comes back to trying not to die. Which is stupid, because instead of not dying, I’m just not living.” And honestly, having that phrase come out of my mouth has made my entire therapy experience worth it! (and we haven’t even gotten to the part where I actually process the trauma I’ve been carrying around for years!)

    • ks says...

      Kara – yes! to answer your questions

      1) yes. I found myself really diving into the fear of uncertainty when reading this earlier this year. we were contemplating a move for a potential job for my bf and there were so many ifs, maybes and whens that I felt stuck (and didn’t handle it gracefully always). I really tried to pull from this book there and find way to be better at living in this stage of unknown and being stuck.
      2) is it strange that i’m ok with dying. not in a morbid way but thanks to therapy I’ve been lucky to see that I have a life filled with deep love, laughter and so much joy that if i had to go tomorrow I could (hopefully) reach to that.
      3) less of a question but yes, would love to know this answer.

      *questions back to you –
      4) did you find yourself using any of her terms? “skin hunger” has been my go-to during covid-19 isolation.
      5) what did you think of her comment that “women carry a physical burden, men carry an emotional burden” (paraphrasing) but that women are asked for perfection physically, men asked for it emotionally – and that it has driven up suicide in men. Do you think it’s true that women are given more freedom to talk and dive into feelings than men? I think so , but I’m curious as to this group’s response.

    • Alex says...

      To question 1: yes! I totally used the things Lori taught her patients on myself. One thing I’ve definitely started doing more is asking myself, what is my own role in this conflict I seem to be having? I can’t begin to tell you how often I make myself miserable by wishing that “so-and-so” would just stop acting like an ass/idiot/selfish POS/etc. Wouldn’t life be so much better if everyone acted the way we thought they should? I remind myself constantly how I can either choose to be the Lori who was stuck cursing her ex for how selfish and cruel he was to her and made herself miserable in the process, or the Lori who accepted her own shortcomings in the relationship and took agency over her own well being. It’s really helpful to stop and think for a second whenever I’m having a problem in any relationship, and asking myself, what part have I played in this problem? And instead of blaming myself or feeling shameful that I’m infallible, thinking more constructively about how I can have compassion for myself and the other person while trying to resolve things. Thank you for your wonderful book, Lori!

    • Em says...

      Kara, I so resonate with #1! For me, that was exactly true. Prior to therapy I rarely cried, and if I did I would almost hyperventilate every single time. I also had more of a temper when I did get mad (only ever around family who I felt very comfortable with), but wouldn’t primarily avoid conflict when possible. My family was supportive and I think they thought they were doing what was best, but my emotions were mostly pushed aside and my parents also went into “fix it” mode versus discussing how I was feeling and validating. It rarely felt okay to feel angry. It’s still really hard to navigate my feeling of sadness and anger, but it’s getting easier with time and practice. My parents haven’t changed, but I now have friends who are supportive and validating.

    • Nikki says...

      Kara such great comments for me definitely 1 & 2.
      1. Also grew up in a family that didn’t share feelings and often can’t even interpret my own feelings!
      2. Yes I think we should speak about death more, it’s the sure for each one of us. This book made me realise I’m not afraid of death (been thinking of it as THE BIG SLEEP), but I am afraid of leaving my baby before he is grown and of course of losing a child (Gabe’s story had me weeping and not sleeping overnight).
      Such a wonderful, intense book. Made me realise I need to go back to Therapy!
      Thank you for the recommendation and this discussion.

  48. Katie says...

    Just ordered! I’m a therapist myself so I’m sure I’ll relate. I’ve got so many good books in my pile, I need to read faster.

    • Rachel says...

      Same! I too am a slow-reading therapist with this book on my list :) Let’s get on it!

  49. jess says...

    I just sat down outside in the sun in my back yard for a couple minutes of solitude as my three kids are doing chores inside and thought “what would bring me joy right now?”. I went back inside to reread this book again. As a pastor, this book has helped me have better insight into counseling —honestly, firstly for counseling myself and asking myself hard yet meaningful questions, but extending it further to counseling others. It was completely eye and heart opening and helped me to love others better, wherever they are in life. I loved how personal this book was for Lori and her patients, but I also loved learning about the profession of Therapist.

  50. Deb says...

    Julie Julie Julie <3. She broke my heart. The line where she says you have to do the stuff that's on your bucket list or it's just a list of what might have been. Oof. Do the things on your bucket lists, folks. Make the memories. Make your dreams come true.

    • Meri-Sue says...

      Absolutely! How often do we put other things ahead of those that really resonate, those things that may make the rest of life look brighter….

  51. katie says...

    You’re Q&A with Lori made me think about my relationship with my own therapist. I saw monthly for, IDK, six years and she helped me so much with life in general and with relationships. I’m not sure how or why it happened, but one day, I decided I no longer needed her. I never told her that. I just stopped going. I still think about that now, 4 years later and how I should have said something. Should I have? Should I reach out now and thank her? Tell her I’m doing well?

    • Ismah says...

      Yes!! I’m sure she would love to hear from you.

    • Shirley says...

      Katie, as a therapist, yes, it’s never too late. Send her a heartfelt letter. I am sure it would mean so, so much to her, especially right now. You graduated and she helped you get there. It doesn’t matter when you acknowledge it, the fact that you do will be all that matters. In fact, it would seem even more poignant (to me) if you let her know all these years later. I’m sure that she thinks of you from time to time and wonders “what happened to Katie…” If you write to her, she will know :)

  52. Nancy says...

    Joanna and Alexandra thanks so much for your kind words and thoughts! I keep in daily touch with friends and family and a do have a cat that keeps me company. I hope everyone stays well and safe. This too shall pass

  53. Katie Cybulskie says...

    Hi Joanna,
    I really loved this book – thank you so much for recommending . I was wondering what the next book club book will be? I’m just putting in a book order today or tomorrow…any chance I can get in on the title? Thank you kindly! Katie

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for your note! i was going to ask people for their suggestions on friday — any book you’d love to read next? would be great if the author is a woman of color, so we can create a diverse group of authors.

    • Julie says...

      I have suggestions!!! :)

      Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

      Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion by Nishta J. Mehra

      This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jenkins

      The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

      Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, julie!

    • Saba says...

      Yes! I second “Brown, White, Black.”

    • Caitlin says...

      Good Talk by Mira Jacob might produce some great convos too!

    • Katie White says...

      I love Lisa See, so that “The Island of Sea Women” sounds great

  54. Christina says...

    I got a copy of this book for myself and my grandmother, so we could participate in the book club. She is quarantined right now in a senior living center. She said this book brought her so much joy, and we spent an hour on the phone having “Part I” of our book club discussion. She told me over and over how glad she was we did this. My grandmother is very active in her community, dotes on her grandkids and friends, and this isolation has been so hard on her. She actually told me if anyone else in our family wanted to read the book, they would need to find their own copy – because she is starting to reread hers for the second time. Lori is working wonders and doesn’t even know it!

    • Sara Heiervang says...

      That’s so lovely!

  55. Emily says...

    Hi everyone! I read this book a few months ago so it’s not fresh in my mind, but I really enjoyed particularly seeing the progression as certain patients revealed their humanity– like John, who become more likable over time– and also hearing about Lori’s own therapy.

    Jo, I’ve seen this suggested in the past but I wonder if you would consider using a comment service like those used by Man Repeller or Refinery29. The format is easier to use, and you can come back and see replies (sometimes here I find myself scrolling through pages and pages just to see if anyone wrote back). Just a suggestion!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! i will look into that, emily!

    • Sarah says...

      Please let me vote NOT to switch your comment format! One of the best things about CoJ is how eye-pleasing the comments are the read. I never read comments on Refinery29 because they take so long to load and visually they don’t have the same appeal as CoJ which feels like a conversation. Just my 2 cents. :)

    • Emily B says...

      Hi Joanna,
      Just a note to say I agree with Sara! I really like the comment section as it is. I much prefer it to Man Repeller or Refinery 29!
      Thanks for this amazing book club :)

    • jane says...

      I also love the clean look of your comments – so much easier to read. What would be so useful though is to be able to subscribe to responses to one’s own comment – NOT the entire comment field as it is now because for COJ that’s often hundreds of comments so it makes no sense to subscribe that way. I just want to know if there are responses to my own comments so I can respond in kind as necessary. Any chance? Thank you!

    • Lee says...

      Love this idea about the commenting, it would work so much better for this kind of thing!

  56. Rosie says...

    I had to stop reading this book because it made me so depressed. It dragged me way down and made me question everything about my previous wonderful experiences in therapy. I felt like Lori was really judging a few of her patients and every time I saw a bit of myself in them her analysis made me consider what my own therapists had been thinking. I had been considering going back to my old one, but now I feel way too self conscious and judged. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to go back. I’m honestly extremely angry about the way it disrupted my perception of the help I got. It didn’t undo the work but it destroyed how I feel about the relationship which I valued so much and which had made me feel safe despite having stopped seeing her. It was nice to know she was there and now I pick apart everything she said as if it were a judgement of things I struggled with. I didn’t even think that was possible before reading this because I had so much respect for her impartiality and training. I may be missing out on a lot because I didn’t finish, but it was a really upsetting experience.

    • Emily says...

      Rosie, I felt that the book got a lot better from that beginning part where I had the same feeling. Over time, Lori seemed to develop a lot more empathy for her patients as she got to know them better. It reminded me that therapists also may need to go through a process of getting to their patients, while we become comfortable with them. I went to therapy about 5 years ago and found it really helpful to work with someone who was distanced from my life, but could at time form judgments. For example, if I shared something my mom had said and saw in her response that it was not something she approved of saying, it actually helped me to process the fact that it wasn’t a good or helpful comment from my mom.

    • YJ says...

      I actually found her initial observations to be authentic and helped me connect with her, especially when she showed how she was TRYING to see the good in each patient, even narcissistic dbags. If she thought everybody was rainbows and butterflies, I probably would have trusted her voice less.

      I loved hearing from her perspective as both a therapist and as a person in therapy–totally identified with just have to sit in silence, or cry, or being stumped, and the point of therapy–to get help getting unstuck. I was really fortunate to connect with mine last fall and she’s been immensely helpful in unpacking my relationships and feelings and where I was stuck.

    • Krista says...

      Rosie, it sounds like you had a good therapist who helped you a lot. Consider that maybe Lori isn’t a very good therapist. Good therapists don’t judge their patients, though they provide necessary challenges to your own sometimes unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviour. Try not to let Lori’s relationships with her patients taint your own view of your therapeutic experience. Trust your own wonderful experience. It sounds like you probably had great, non-judgmental therapist, so don’t judge her by what Lori was like.

    • EP says...

      Krista, I have to disagree. I think Lori is/was a great therapist. How can someone be human and not have judgments? I think the beauty is that she was honest by sharing her initial judgments/opinions but showed more and more compassion as she got to know her clients better. Similar to what YJ said, I would find it weird if she DIDN’T have any initial judgments as that is just not human nature.
      I guess the broader question is— why is it so disappointing when someone has judgment on a situation? It is only natural to have an immediate reaction to something right in front of us. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be fully conscious human beings aware of what’s happening around us, right? I think the key is to be aware of one’s own judgment, and to acknowledge when that opinion is not understanding/compassionate/etc. But to actually have an opinion should not be a fault. It’s only natural.

  57. Joanna Goddard says...

    I’m curious: Did you like the book overall? Were there specific parts you liked or didn’t like? (I loved it all:)

    • Sara Heiervang says...

      I really liked it, kinda liked someone else “picking it out” for me, I had no idea what I was getting into when I bought it. I’ve been to therapy a couple of rounds but never really felt that I’ve gotten to the end/for whatever reason have had to quit before. So I have always thought I would go back, and this book really made me want to go back to therepy. Have read it on my kindle so haven’t really seen the title that much so it was funny when I realised what the title was, yes, maybe i should talk to somebody! I’m really keen on getting to the bottom of it like the characters were able to do in therapy, take the problem at its core.

    • sara says...

      couldn’t put this book down, though it really affected me by the end…! i loved what she said about there being no hierarchy of pain.

    • Stefanie says...

      Hi Joanna, thanks for the bookclub idea, it finally made me read the book after hearing so much about it. And I loved it! Maybe I am biased, because I am a psychologist, but it was so much fun. And it made me realize that I really want to train as a therapist in the future :-)

    • Emily says...

      I LOVED this book. I got it from the library before quarantine and devoured it. I love Lori’s approach to each patient, and it clarified some things I’ve always wondered about therapists over the years (Why we seek their approval and if they can tell, how to engage in a session in a truly vulnerable way, body language). I found it fascinating and can’t wait to get back to therapy with a better understanding. Thanks for suggesting this one!

    • Christine says...

      I loved it! I tend to read more fiction, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this and how insightful it was. I went to therapy for about 1.5 years and “graduated” about 8 months ago. After reading this, I feel like therapy would have been more effective and I would have been more open if I’d read this prior to going. There’s still such a stigma around therapy and I love that this book normalizes it. Therapy is great – everyone should go!

    • Kate the Great says...

      I liked it, overall. My husband is a psychology major, but we both graduated from university 12 years ago. During his studies, he told me once: “I think you’d really enjoy __’s ideas. I just learned about him today, and his ideas sound like yours. You should look him up on the Internet.” I don’t think I did, because I had my own studies to do. And it’s been 12 years, so I don’t remember who he was talking about anymore and neither does he.

      But I think he may have been talking about Erickson’s Psycho-social Stages that Lori lists on page 297. They resonate with me very much.

    • Alex says...

      I too LOVED this book! It reminded me a lot of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown in the overall message that the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives (and we cannot have good relationships w/o vulnerability/intimacy/authenticity) I also read (listened to) this book a few months ago, so it’s not fresh in my mind either, but I loved how Lori used each person’s story to tell a larger story about the plight of the human condition. We are all people shaped by our previous experiences and traumas and our relationships now are largely just recreations of the patterns we grew up with as children. It made me feel hopeful that I have the power to recognize what patterns from my childhood are unhelpful in my adult relationships and CHANGE them! Like you guys!!!! We all have the power to change the things that aren’t working in our current relationships and try out something that might work better!!! I love that. It gives me so much hope.

    • Julie says...

      My favorite part of the book was reading about Lori’s journey to becoming a therapist. Her career change and the winding path it took to get there were really interesting to read about. I especially loved reading how she balances her writing and medical practice. Overall I didn’t like the book but am impressed by the author’s background. Definitely going to read some of her Atlantic articles soon.

    • Katie says...

      I loved this book! At one point, I couldn’t put it down. I was especially curious to learn the end of John’s narrative. I kept trying to figure out who the “real John” was! I finally accepted that I would never know. I appreciated how vulnerable Lori was to share her own story as well.

    • Katie White says...

      I loved the book and read it in about 2 days, which is fast for me! Funny enough, the book caught my eye on the bookshelf of MY therapist’s office! Picked it up and she said “Oh, you should read it. Take it home with you it’s like candy.” I loved the new perspective it gave me about maybe how therapists relate to their patients. I love my therapist, and it made me realize that I think she probably cares very deeply about me too, which is really nice. I loved how she unwrapped the characters. She made her readers see their soft spots, their lovable spots, places that everyone has. It was a good reminder that if someone isn’t acting kind maybe they are just hurting.

      Katie

    • Lee says...

      I liked it. It didn’t quite meet the mark of “love” because when I put it down, I forgot about it. Nothing really stayed with me. It was enjoyable enough to pass the time but left me without much in the end.

    • Andie says...

      I loved it all! Julie’s story especially made me sob, numerous times. In a happy / sad way.
      One night, after hours of being unable to put it down, I stayed awake for even more hours realizing therapy is so overdue in my life. I was also amazed at how much went on in Lori’s mind – how it’s so much more than just talking! – and it made me see therapy as much more legitimate, I suppose. Tomorrow I have my second appointment. :)
      So excited for the TV series.

    • Beth Ann says...

      Oh I LOVED this book! All of it. I saw myself in each of her clients. I sobbed so hard at the end when her one client received the email from her daughter. The line “it wasn’t nearly enough but it was something..” UGH. BROKE ME. Such a beautiful book that shows the depths of all of our struggles, heartbreaks, and joys in life.

    • Ana says...

      I loved this book! I usually read books very quickly but I took my time and read it slowly. I was not prepared for John’s story to unfold the way it day! I actually gasped with I read the part about the car accident. Such a lovely book.

    • Shirley Y. says...

      What really amazed me about Lori’s writing style was how she revealed key moments throughout the book about her patients’ lives and her own life. For example, when John called her from the set of his show for an emergency session, I was truly at the edge of my seat as to what he was going to say! And the revelations about her own struggles with her health and writing the happiness book? The way they were woven into the book was like a blast of energy. For a book about talking and emotions, it was quite an unexpected experience to feel thrills, as though I was watching an action movie. I was engaged throughout the whole book, but it was those moments that I received a jolt. Great job, Lori!

  58. Laure says...

    I loved this book. One part that struck me was when Julie talked about wanting people to acknowledge how it plain sucks that she’s sick, instead of trying to say a bunch of platitudes to make it “better”. And how she just wanted people to act normal around her. Compassion and authenticity always win.

    It actually reminded me a lot about what you wrote around grief, Jo. I came back to those articles over and over again when my best friend lost her mother.

  59. L says...

    It’s so difficult to find a therapist who is affordable. Any tips on how to find a really good, affordable therapist? Also, is teletherapy as effective as in person visits?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a good question! i’m curious to hear people’s answers. fwiw, regarding teletherapy: lori says, in the book, that she thinks skype therapy is like “doing therapy with a condom on” because she says it’s so helpful to see people (and their body language etc) in the room. she also said it’s easier to be quiet and sit in silence in the room, versus on the phone.

      i’d love to hear about how to find affordable therapists, too!

    • Ally says...

      With the current pandemic, almost everyone is having teletherapy and while it may not be ideal, it’s better than not having it. I was hesitant at first but my therapist and I are making it work and it is so comforting, and for me critical, to continue therapy during this time.

      My feeling too, like Lori mentioned is that we have to “try out our therapists”. The first one is not always the best fit.

      If you have insurance, that’s a good place to start in finding an affordable therapist. Many insurance companies post providers online. If you are not insured, a google search for local therapists is helpful. There are different places that are training new therapists or that cater to certain folks, like the LGBTQ community, that offer sliding scale or lower cost therapy.

    • A says...

      I’m doing teletherapy right now and we do it by FaceTime so I still get to “see” my therapist. It makes a huge difference that I’ve been seeing this therapist for a while now, but for me it feels like getting on the phone with an old friend. We still have the same types of conversations, silences, we can still practice breathing exercises. She gets to see my dog :) It’s almost like we’re adding a layer of intimacy since she can literally see my personal life. Not sure I’d feel this way with a brand new therapist, though.

    • Theresa says...

      L, the struggle to find quality, affordable therapists is real and is so dependent on where you live. Some places to start:
      – recommendations (as Lori mentions in the book) are a great way to find therapists
      – investigate if there are any publicly funded programs in your area (I recognize this is a lot rarer in some spots)
      – do you have an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) through your workplace?
      – do you have health insurance or workplace benefits that may cover some portion of private therapy?
      – there are a number of apps now that can connect you with lower-cost therapy
      – remember it’s a process and can take some time, which can be so difficult if you are already struggling

      Re: effectiveness of teletherapy
      I work as a psychotherapist at a publicly-funded therapy program in Canada and we are now, obviously, moving to telemental health. My own therapist and I have met virtually for years as she lives in another city and it works very well for me. I’m trying to go into my new role as a “teletherapist” with a spirit of enthusiasm. Overall, I’m so glad I will be able to continue to support my clients during this difficult time, but I am certainly nervous!

      A recent review concluded that the evidence supports that teletherapy is effective in the treatment of multiple mental health conditions (https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2018-24930-001)

      And to echo many points already made, the relationship between client and therapist is the most important of all factors when considering how effective therapy is.

    • So, I’m a therapist. And while I know the training, expense and value associated with my side of the couch, I totally appreciate the desire for affordable therapy.

      Here are a few ideas:

      1. Ask about sliding scale. While many therapists don’t advertise this, they often reserve a few spots for a reduced fee. It never hurts to ask. I set my $200/hr fee to give myself a livable wage, cover overhead costs and subsidize a few $50/session spots in my practice. This is quite common! Keep looking and keep asking.

      2. https://openpathcollective.org/ This is an online resource to find therapists who offer sliding scale. There is a one time fee to join (though I never confirm my clients paid OPC).

      3. A Home Within – if you are a current or former foster youth this is an agency that connects you with a free therapist for life. AHW recognizes that one of the losses associated with the foster system is lack of consistent, positive relationships. I’ve been seeing a AHW client for years and it’s one of the most powerful relationships of my life. If you have been in foster care, I encourage you to access this benefit from your AHW community.

      4. I’m nervous to make my last suggestion since it’s a failure of our community that access to therapy is a function of privilege. And yet, here it is: I encourage clients to view the money they do spend on therapy as an investment in themselves. It hurt to write (sliding scale) checks to my therapist when I was a poor social worker, but I still think it’s some of the best money I ever spent. Please know if you can’t afford therapy, that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong or you don’t want to invest in your mental health. Our system is broken and looking for a therapist is a tedious task, but it’s also a great way to take care of yourself if you have the option.

      Sending big love to everyone looking for a therapist right now!

    • Julie says...

      Often you can lower cost therapy from therapists in school. If you know of a university in your area you can inquire.

      There are also some places that offer assistance with therapy costs. The Loveland Foundation, for example, has a therapy fund for black women.

      https://thelovelandfoundation.org/loveland-therapy-fund/

      They say, “Through our partnerships with Therapy for Black Girls, National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network, Talkspace and Open Path Collective, Loveland Therapy Fund recipients will have access to a comprehensive list of mental health professionals across the country providing high quality, culturally competent services to Black women and girls. With therapy sessions costing an average of $80 – $200 per session, we have selected the following options to increase the likelihood that participants are able to financially afford therapy after the end of the 4 – 8 sessions supported by The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund. Black women and girls deserve access to healing, and that healing will impact generations.

      HOW TO APPLY
      If you are a black woman or girl who would like to apply for financial assistance please click here to fill out our application form. Please Note: The Winter / Spring 2020 Cohort is FULL. We are currently raising funds for our 2020 Summer / Fall Cohort.”

    • Christine says...

      I get 6 free sessions per year through work through my Employee Assistance Program. I HIGHLY recommend checking to see if you have an EAP if you work for a company, nonprofit, etc. It includes dependents, so my husband even got 6 free sessions of his own. They let you start a new 6 sessions if you have a different reason, so I used my initial 6 on marital counseling, but was able to get 6 more when my father died.

    • Dana says...

      I’ve found teletherapy to be just as effective as in person visits! I do it over zoom, and I actually am able to be more vulnerable, as I feel more safe in my own home.

  60. Joanna Goddard says...

    PS feel free to post your own discussion questions, too!

    • mia says...

      it would be so fun if we did a virtual zoom book club !

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great idea, mia!!!

    • Rosie says...

      I was really hoping this would be an Instagram live or zoom situation. If telemedicine is doing therapy with a condom on then having a book club in comments is sitting on the front steps of your friends house and hollering your thoughts and wondering if anyone heard you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for the feedback, rosie! i’ll try to do this next time!

    • Becky says...

      I’m curious how would a zoom book club work for such a large audience?

    • Sarah says...

      I actually really like this format (vs. Zoom, etc.) because I can revisit everyone’s responses. This is a thoughtful community and I like that I can take my time with each comment. I would love the ability to reply to individuals. And maybe collapse responses? Reddit-like?

  61. Nancy says...

    I loved this book! So compassionate and so interesting from both sides of the couch. When my husband passed away seven years ago,I went to therapy but not nearly as good as Lori! Although I loved all of the characters my favorite was Julie and I cried through the last couple of chapters on her. But how John grew! Lori did a great job with him!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, john really grew! it was amazing to “watch.”

    • Natalie T. says...

      I’m not there with John yet. I only got 60% through the book but glad to hear he has “grown” and I hope everything is going better for him in life.

  62. amy weber says...

    wow the part about chess is super interesting!

  63. Joanna Goddard says...

    Lori asks her therapist Wendell if he likes her. And he says he likes her neshama (Hebrew for “spirit” or “soul”). If you’ve been in therapy, have you wanted your therapist do like you? Did it ever change things you said/did in the therapy room?

    • r says...

      I once asked my therapist if she thought it was necessary to like the people she worked with (i.e., her clients/patients). She said no. I asked because throughout our sessions I felt that she didn’t like me. It was a pretty shitty feeling. I was shocked that she didn’t elaborate her “no” answer. She just left it at that and we moved on. Shortly after I stopped seeing her.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, r, that’s such a strange answer! i would have felt the same as you.

    • Honour Del Crognale says...

      Of course :)

    • (hiiii this is so exciting)
      I go to therapy since three years ago, religiously every Weds and I have never asked my therapist if she likes me… it wasn’t until I read the book I wonder about it. I kind of assume she likes me because she is helping me. payment aside. i feel like a therapist works for you because of mutual connection.

    • j says...

      Absolutely. Part of the reason I go to therapy is to deal with my social anxiety, which is always convincing me that people don’t actually like me, so it inevitably comes into play in therapy as well. I think it’s also just because it’s so intimate- you’re revealing your deepest insecurities and fears to someone, so for them to care about you or like you feels like the ultimate validation – which I think a lot of us are really looking for.

    • N says...

      Totally! I don’t think I’ve asked directly but having it implied that someone’s not only in your corner because they’re being paid to but because they like you has made me more comfortable in sharing less flattering things in my sessions.

    • Vanessa says...

      Unfortunately, yes, I am guilty of this! I only saw a therapist for a really brief period of my life when I was at a crossroads, but I stopped quite abruptly when I moved away to a different country. Reading Lori’s book has a) made me want to go back to therapy even if my life is in much better shape now and b) made me wish I had been more honest to my therapist and not just told her half-truths about myself and my issues. I just wanted her to like me so badly that I didn’t want her to know anything negative about me. In hindsight, I realize I just wasn’t ready to face some aspects of my life and thought I could just make them “go away” by not talking about them. This book really has been an amazing read and I love this book club!

    • R says...

      I haven’t read the book but wanted to chime in. I really wanted my therapist to like me… she was older, and calmer, and just so cool. I had this belief that our conversations were a breath of fresh air in her day, and that opinion sometimes held me back from telling her the really dark stuff, as I worried it might turn her off to me. It’s tough because on the one hand, you know you’re paying this person to listen and care.

      But on the other, you can tell when they’re invested in your story, when they want you to be better, and when you’re having a truly genuine conversation.

      I miss our weekly chats. If anything, since moving on, I’ve found myself wondering if my life choices would make her happy or not, if I’d be proud to tell her what I was doing/thinking, etc. Sometimes that was half the benefit of therapy for me — knowing I’d have to sit across from this amazing woman on Monday and tell her about my life — that kept me from doing some pretty dumb stuff back in the day.

    • Erin says...

      I don’t think I’ve wanted a therapist to “like” me, in that I don’t need to be liked, but I do think that a baseline level of respect as a person helps. My first attempts at therapy when I graduated into the recession and had a job, but a soul sucking job, i sought out therapy, but the folks in my insurance plan were judgmental and I didn’t get the sense that they CARED. One seemed to give zero fs, and the other gave me a handout on communication and was like, maybe this isn’t the right relationship for you, but a good chance for you to work on communication. Fast forward 6 years and it was in fact not the right relationship for me, and I’m rather mad that I didn’t pursue finding the right therapist then as it could have saved me some years, but that is neither here nor there. :)
      Thankful that I’ve found someone who hears me and respects my struggles and nonstruggles with being dismissive. For me, that made all the difference.

    • Jessica Joly says...

      I think it’s quite natural for us as humans to want to be liked but in the case of my relationship with my therapist, I never felt like that’s something I needed from her. That’s besides the point, I think. More important, I think what undermines this need is more so: “can I trust this person?” Maybe it’s easier to say yes to that if we feel a sense of kinship with our therapist or that they’ve got our backs.

    • Carolina says...

      I’ve never been in therapy (although I would love to) but I think that would me on my mind always. If he/she likes me, if I’m being boring, what she is thinking about what I would tell her/him. It would be a challenge, I think, to quiet the self-conscious voice inside myself :)

    • stuart says...

      I want everyone to like me which is 95% of the reason I go to therapy so I think my therapist was aware, haha. I would find myself rehearsing what I wanted to say and would sometimes respond to questions with what I thought my therapist wanted to hear but luckily she was good at her job and could tell. And once I got comfortable and also because she’s good at her job, I stopped trying to people please my therapist.

    • Dana says...

      I want them to think I’m ‘evolved’ emotionally. I want to put my emotional intelligence on full display – almost to the extent to prove that I don’t need to be there. Interesting reflection…

    • Isa says...

      I never realized until I read this book that yes I do want my therapist to like me now because I’m starting to like myself a but better and it’s important for me that she is in the same trajectory as I am
      (Thank you for this book club it gave me a deadline for reading and pushed me to finish the book that I really loved)

  64. Joanna Goddard says...

    Lori says, “I don’t think there’s a hierarchy of pain. Pain is pain.” Have you ever felt that there’s a hierarchy of pain so you shouldn’t feel bad for whatever problems you have? How do you feel to hear from Lori that she thinks pain is pain and it’s all valid?

    • r says...

      I love hearing that pain is pain. Especially these days. I remind myself that I have it much better than others during this pandemic, but that doesn’t make the pain I am experiencing right now less painful in the moment. It changes how I might respond/act, but it doesn’t change the emotions I feel.

    • judy says...

      this is an important point. when I worked on a cardiology unit, patients would downplay their situation when they saw other patients with more severe/different issues. my response was always – this is 100% happening to you. it is not up for comparison.

    • Liz says...

      Yes, I have felt the hierarchy, but I love the view that there really isn’t one. I think this is pretty applicable in the current situation. We all have various troubles going on right now with this pandemic and, even though I’m fortunate in a lot of ways compared to others, I have frustrating days and it’s OK for me to feel that frustration.

    • Lesley says...

      I have thought about this during this Quarantine time where I feel like I’m struggling but I feel guilty for that since other people are sick and have it worse. But, it’s still really hard! This quote from lori makes me feel better.

    • Honour Del Crognale says...

      Pain is pain – it’s all valid but I think it’s important to keep our pain in perspective – sometimes helping with someone else’s pain helps relieve our own.

    • Robin says...

      I have a blood disease and resulting heart condition and seizure disorder. While I have the best group of friends I could ask for, I know some struggle to tell me about their own pain. I always remind them that friendship is reciprocal. I want to hold some things for you; I can still love you no matter how sick I am because you do that for me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s really thoughtful and compassionate, robin. i hope you’re doing okay. xoxo

    • Nancy says...

      I think this is really an interesting way to look at pain. In this era of Coronavirus, I have shelter, food, and plenty to get by. But I live by myself and it is extraordinarily lonely. I start feeling sorry for myself but then I see food lines, people getting sick, losing their incomes and homes etc. etc. Then I feel guilty! It is kind of a vicious circle!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds really hard, nancy. i was telling my husband yesterday that i think one of the hardest things would be to be alone during this time. sending you the biggest hug!

    • Leigh says...

      My mom died my first year teaching, and of course I was in a lot of pain. When I was at home, away from my students, in the days before and immediately following her death, I would experience a pang of grief, and it would immediately be undercut by a wave of guilt. Many of my students lived in poverty and their families suffered from all sorts of health conditions as a result. Their access to the kind of high-quality medical care, including the level of end-of-life care my mom received was limited. At the time, I told anyone who asked that I actually felt very lucky that my mom had the chance to live as long as she did with her illness and that we could all be together as a family, safe and otherwise healthy, at the end.

      I felt guilty because I knew how much harder my mom’s experience would have been had we been in poverty. How much harder my family’s experiences as caretakers would have been. This guilt helped me manage my grief by giving me perspective during an incredibly dark time. I don’t know if I would have been in touch with this gratitude otherwise. But it was over the next few years in therapy that I learned that there really isn’t a hierarchy, that pain is pain and it’s all relative. I was able to stop managing my grief and allow myself to feel it.

    • Claire says...

      It was reassuring to read that all pain is valid, and it’s ok to feel hurt for big or little things alike. We shouldn’t just brush it off but find a way to react to it. It was a really nice reminder to consider that everyone’s pain is valid and has intrinsic value.

    • Mia says...

      a few months ago there was a school shooting at one of my “neighboring” high schools. it was devastating for the whole community. i don’t go to that school and didn’t witness it first hand and it’s been hard for me to validate my own grief and fear while constantly being reminded my myself and others that “it could be worse” and “at least it didn’t happen at our school.” i almost felt bad feeling pain after this because i didn’t want to seem selfish or stupid when there were people who had to witness two of their classmates’ deaths. i really liked that part of the book because i feel like people have to realize that it’s not a competition and everyone goes through their own thing.

    • Pain is pain. You do you. We should allow ourselves to feel without any regrets. a lot of my life I constrained my feelings, feeling guilty about them. at the end of the day, i felt exhausted: of feeling and the work of trying to either hide the feeling or feeling guilty about it.
      life is so easier since i allow myself to feel the pain, regardless if it is a heart break, monthly cramps, sinus congestion, loneliness… I am doing this quarantine alone, in a studio in NYC, it is hard and it does not have to be. if i had a bad day, i have it. i go through it. i recognize it. i survive it. pain is pain in any form!
      Feeling you Nancy, a hug towards you from a fellow alone quarantiner.

    • Tess says...

      I was so glad to read that part! I’ve been dealing with feeling incredibly overwhelmed the last 6 months (big move, at home with 2 young kids, husband works long hours, my daughter and I missing our friends terribly) to the point that I was hospitalized with symptoms of a seizure, but it was all “just” stress. And what makes it worse is feeling like I should really be ok, because I “only have 2 kids”, “we have a great new home”, etc. Comparing your pain/stress/burden to that of others is the worst!

    • Steph L. says...

      It is something I think about all the time. Whatever pain one might be experiencing is real and is valid. Just because someone has it worse than you does not make your pain feel any less painful. When my friends are complaining about something, and they try to stop themselves to say they shouldn’t be complaining, I encourage them to let it out.

      Pain is not a competition.

    • Sarah says...

      Devils advocate though…my MIL has a new “deep pain” every day and “is forced to react” with behavior choices that aren’t healthy or loving towards us. How do I legitimize that, yes, you are broken and unwell and that is your pain…And respond in a loving way…while encouraging perspective that’s grounded in reality?

    • Moriah says...

      I think this is one of the most crucial lessons for people to understand! Your pain and emotions are always valid. Yesterday I took a pregnancy test and it was negative. I just recently started to try and get pregnant, so I was tempted to dismiss my pain because people try for years and never conceive. But I reminded myself that I’m allowed to feel disappointed about this.

    • Illana says...

      I think it’s really true, but that we have to re-learn this over and over and connect it to both compassion and action. What I mean is, don’t we absolutely have to have compassion for ourselves for being wherever we are? Even if for a moment we are thinking unconsciously or selfishly or whatever, that’s just the way it is for that moment, and we are all naturally the heroes of our own story. At the same time, it’s just as real that at the exact moment we are struggling, there is simultaneously more struggle elsewhere. When I realize that someone does have a situation “worse” than I do, *what next*? What can I do, what can I offer. But I think we can’t get to that moment of openness and offering unless and until we first show compassion for ourselves and whatever our own pain is in the moment. When we don’t start in Moment One with kindness for ourselves, I think we might be shut down to our full capacity for giving to others.

    • Ellie says...

      One of my favorite songs is “Rosemary” by Brian Fallon; it has a line that says “And everybody’s hurt, and mine ain’t the worse/But it’s mine, and I’m feelin’ it now”. To me that line, like Lori’s sentiment, is such a great way of capturing this idea that, yes, some pain is worse than others, but it doesn’t do too much good to compete for the best pain out there. It’s hard to have perspective on your own pain when you’re in it.

    • Heather says...

      100%

    • Sarah says...

      Brene Brown just did a podcast where she discussed comparative suffering. She said that all pain should be recognized and that you should name and allow yourself to feel your feelings.

      If you feel bad about HOW you’re feeling (am I too sad? not sad enough? I shouldn’t feel this way because some people have it so much worse.), not only are you still feeling the negative feelings, but you’ve added shame on top of it.

    • Ivy says...

      I struggle with this ALL THE TIME. I will often invalidate my own feelings about something by explaining it away. “Oh, I know I’m upset about this, but there are so many worse things to be upset about.” Or, “This isn’t a big problem on the scale of terrible problems. I should be thankful.” It’s hard because I want to give credence to those that have a more difficult life than me, yet I also don’t want to trivialize my own thoughts/feelings.

    • Katie says...

      This made me think that when we de-value our pain because it’s not as big or monumental as someone else’s, we are comparing ourselves to others, and that’s a trap! I believe that I should compare myself to my previous self and that’s it. If my emotions about burning a grilled cheese are big, they’re big. If my emotion about losing a family member unexpectedly is big, that’s ok too. I want to be more accepting of myself and treat myself like a very dear friend.

    • Anna Vivian says...

      Something I think about related to this is shifting our “but”s to “and”s. It can be hard to hold multiple things at once, and I think this is why it can be so difficult not to dismiss our own experiences (or the experiences of others)! It’s natural to want to have perspective, and I think real healthy perspective comes best when we “and.”

      Thinking about it like this…

      Shifting from “I am so down/depressed/struggling, BUT so-and-so has it worse — SO I shouldn’t feel this way” to “I am having such a hard time, AND so-and-so is going through something really difficult.”

      There are so many difficult/beautiful “and”s we can add…AND I don’t feel like I can do this. AND I am lucky for (some other thing). AND I still have gifts to offer the world. AND there is so much suffering in the world, some of which I’m connected to, and some of which I don’t fully understand. AND I’m still learning. And, and, and…

    • Tamara says...

      Comparison so often seems to be the foundational mindset & driver of our society. For years I always measured my struggles as “first world problems” in response to my work with refugee students. Now, having lived through more of life’s stages & as I enter middle age, hard is hard & ALL felt pain is real & valid. No comparison necessary. Just because my struggle is a “first world problem” doesn’t make me feel it any less. Nor does my struggle diminish anyone else’s. Perhaps it takes a pandemic for us to realize the futility of comparison.

    • Dana says...

      Oh goodness yes. I remember when my ex father-in-law took his own life. I sobbed to my therapist about it and asked them how I could rank this pain. I needed not only it validated but a roadmap for what was acceptable to feel. It’s good to know that everything is acceptable to feel – feelings are to be felt.

      I feel relief in relation to Lori saying pain is pain. Freedom to allow my own experience, and the experience of others to be as it is.

    • sarah says...

      YES! I loved this quote too, and I actually wrote it down in a little quote book I keep. It’s part of a much longer passage and I loved that part too: “You can’t get through your pain by diminishing it. You get through your pain by accepting it and figuring out what to do with it.. you can’t change what you are denying or minimizing.”

      I found this whole idea very healing and empowering because it takes that GUILT and SHAME out of the equation and reminds us not to judge our own pain or anyone else’s.

    • Isa says...

      I think Lori has a point but I think we all have a way of putting our pain in competition with the others to make us feel better, as her character says “at least I don’t have cancer” so it’s complicated. I’m currently having a crushing amoount of work due to the pandemic but it’s difficult to express ot to my friends which aren’t working at the moment as it would seem insensitive so I just don’t say anything

  65. Joanna Goddard says...

    Lori and her boyfriend broke up at the beginning of the book. She thought he was a jerk/sociopath, but therapy with Wendell showed her that she had a role in the situation, too. Have you had break ups where you had the same realization?

    • that part of the book really resonated with me, as I was just processing the final stages of a long, long relationship where I could not figure out why things did not move forward as I expected. Turns out, this portion of Lori’s book plus another I read simultaneously on attachment theory revealed the answer which satisfied my soul and allowed me to obtain closure – my partner’s emotional style was avoidant and he was unwilling/unable to make any changes in the dynamic – my style was/is anxious, so I could finally understand the push/pull of the attraction, the way I got “stirred up” and then his backing away. When confronted with this information, and personal knowledge which allowed me to better communicate my needs, it was clear he was not able to do the emotional work necessary in the relationship. So I could, finally, let go. A huge relief for me in my life and an opening for new adventures!

    • r says...

      Definitely!
      Sometimes being able to admit I played a role (or even to clearly see what my role was) in the current state of a relationship is hard. The one I am struggling with at the moment is how I am currently thinking/feeling about being estranged from my mother. It has been over ten years now and I know it is the right decision to not have her in my life. It was such a destructive relationship and it took a mountain of strength to be able to hold to my boundary and extricate myself. But now I am wondering more about my role in how things ended up this way. I am terrified about opening the wound again. I don’t believe any good will come of it. I was a kid. I didn’t deserve what happened to me. I’m doing my best to take care of myself. There are very good reasons why we are not in communication…
      So yeah – clearly I am still very defensive/scared…

    • L says...

      totally – I think it’s easy to be in denial about a dysfunctional relationship because it’s too scary to break up.
      my ex broke up with me and it felt out of the blue but then slowly I started reliving some moments or some frustrations that I had held in. I realized I’d been lying to myself and should have seen it coming.
      a year later, I actually thanked my ex for ending things – it wasn’t easy but at least we didn’t drag each other down for too many months/years.

    • Cait says...

      I loved that she was so open about this and her feelings. As someone who went through a terribly hard breakup several years ago, I was really hard on myself for how much it affected me, how much I ruminated on it and my role and all the anger and sadness. Even though it’s years later, it made me feel better that a trained therapist went through the same thing – a realization that it’s just a human experience and even when you have training and knowledge, it’s hard to separate yourself from the big emotions. It helped me be a little nicer to my past self for how hard it was for me. I had gone to a therapist actually to help work through it and would sometimes think, my therapist must think I’m so pathetic for struggling so hard with this. The book helped me realize that therapists are much more compassionate than that.

    • Amy says...

      No–but reading this book actually convinced me to bring up one of my biggest fears to my boyfriend about our relationship, about some feelings I was worried he had but was trying to repress for my sake. He not only reassured me, but we also got into a really long, in-depth conversation that dug into a lot of other issues as well in a productive, healthy manner. I’d been carrying that fear around for years. It feels so good to be free of it!

    • Moriah says...

      I went to therapy initially because had a friend break-up that I needed to come to terms with. Through examing that relationship and the demise of it, I was able to see my flaws and deepest fears more than ever before which was at first terrifying and then freeing. When you own and understand the “ugliest” parts of you they can’t hold you captive anymore. I know understand my intentions and the reasoning behind my behaviors so much more.

    • Kate the Great says...

      The fact that Lori named the individual she broke up with “Boyfriend” drove me batty. I wish she would have chosen an actual NAME.

      Did anyone else feel this way or am I just being a psychotic who needs therapy?

    • Katie says...

      Totally! I am divorced and it took about 2 years for me to fully process what really happened. I was so angry for a long time, but as time passed and I grew into myself I was able to see things in a different way. I was no longer angry. I still have hurt feelings about some things, but I am at a point where I appreciate my ex-husband for who he is. We share a 10 year old dog and its been a good experience. Not without bumps in the road, but pretty cool! :)

    • Katie says...

      Not really and I’m still wrestling with it. I recently broke up with someone who I believe has narcissistic personality disorder, or at the very least did not make me valued or safe. My relationship before that one ended because he had cheated on me with a coworker (and apparently lied about other things, too). I kept trying to connect the dots, because I don’t want to be in this position again, but my therapist said maybe there aren’t any dots to connect. Maybe recognizing that the newer guy wasn’t good for me was progress. So I’m trying to give myself grace and be proud, but it’s hard in isolation and having just read this book!!

      Side note – Seems like a lot of Katies are here! Hello Katies. Hello Joanna :)

  66. Joanna Goddard says...

    The cancer patient Julie gets a part-time job at Trader Joe’s because she thinks it seems fun/productive. What are some of those things you secretly wish to do in your day-to-day life?

    • amy weber says...

      trader joes seems like a dream job, i would love it. (for real) all the instagram posts about the employees handing out flowers and things to customers when they hear it’s their birthday or whatever, i mean how fun does that sound?

    • Robin says...

      I would grow buckets and buckets of flowers. It’s my secret life.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, robin! i would work in a bookstore.

    • r says...

      I wish I had a list of things I secretly wished I could do… I am feeling so stuck these days. I don’t have access to those dreams.

    • Laure says...

      i would love to run a fun cafe here in Paris. I know its probably so much harder than I realize but I’d just love decorating it, choosing the logo, talking with customers…

    • Nancy says...

      I also would love to work in a bookstore! I am a former kindergarten teacher and just love reading to children! And singing with them!
      That is really fun and special for me!

    • Vanessa says...

      I would definitely want to have a pet – preferably a dog. I grew up with pets but don’t dare commit to one on my own. I obsess about this a lot and even go on pet adoption pages etc… On the professional side, I think I would like to give up my office job in Comms/Marketing and retrain as a nurse or carer for the elderly to actually do something useful.

    • jess says...

      i take a weekend pottery class and secretly wish that it could be my full time job! other than that, i’d love to work at a pet shelter.

    • Kara says...

      I’ve always had a little fantasy of being a breakfast waitress. I usually wake up in a good mood and I just want to give people coffee and then walk around and say, “Do you want a refill on that, hun?” The idea of helping people start their day off feeling cared for really appeals to me. I think that was kind of what Julie was going for too (and like Julie, I’m a survivor and would love a kid but it’s complicated!).

    • Deb says...

      Yes to working in a bookshop, or a florist (my hayfever would not be happy about it!), or in a deli or cookware shop. I fantasise that if I ever won the lottery I would set up a charity teaching teenagers (and I suppose adults too if they wanted it!) about personal finance. And when I have a garden I am going to garden the shit out of it. It will be epic. Again, my hayfever will be troublesome but it will be WORTH IT! These are probably not that secret ;-)

    • One thing I AM doing on the side right now is taking ballet classes – it is my own form of therapy because it helps me express my emotions in another more profound way. I was never a dancer before this and never thought I’d take up dancing – but I was inspired one day when I saw an adult ballet dancer dancing so beautifully in central park that it touched my heart like never before.

      At that time, I was also going through a crisis where I realized my own mortality, just like the author, and I decided to make the most of my life and live in the moment. I asked myself, what would you wish you were doing right now if you were to die in the next few months? The answer was to experience the beauty of ballet. So I signed up for my first class last summer, and had become a perfectly happy adult ballet learner ever since!

    • heather says...

      When I was in high school I worked in a bookstore. To this day it was my favorite paying job. I would most definitely like to do that again if not even have my own little independent shop.

    • Carolina says...

      I would have a small grocery store with all the things I love more and that I would passionately recommend to my customers!

    • Ivy says...

      I saw this on here somewhere, but I think I’d like working at a bookshop too. When I was in high school, I created this dream which is to own and run a bookstore in retirement. I wouldn’t want to do Barnes & Noble though, I’d like to work at a neighborhood shop! Part of me is anxious about that though because what if it’s not as fun as I imagine and it ruins the appeal?

    • stuart says...

      This was my favorite part of your interview with Lori! I wish to write every day, spend more time in the sun, and have a giant garden in my (nonexistent) backyard that I could putter around in every afternoon.
      Also, I’ve always wanted to work in a bookstore…maybe I’ll try it when things start getting back to normal.

    • Anna says...

      I would love to take more pictures to find the beautiful moments in every day life. I imagine that having a camera handy to capture what I can find would be so magical and really make me live in the moment.

    • Katie says...

      Open a plant store

    • A says...

      I would do the work I am already pursuing (it is so affirming to realize this) in sustainable landscaping and gardening🌼 – maybe just in my own garden though, if I were dying.

      And spend more time snuggled up with my family, more time petting my dogs, more face masks and other skin treatments that feel so good to me, wear more dresses, take more walks, look up at the sky.

    • Dana says...

      Spend time to move my body in intentional ways – learning practices to do that. Dance lessons, yoga teacher training. Anything to get out of my head and into my body.

    • Isa says...

      The thing for me would be singing but I have been taking steps towards it. I have joined a choir and I’m taking singing lessons and learning it’s much more that putting on a song and singing along I need to remember to do it more often. Next I’d like to try acting

  67. Joanna Goddard says...

    Did the book change the way you think about your therapist?

    • jill d. says...

      yes, i felt like i could go without having to be in some major crisis…that i didn’t need an excuse so to speak…

    • Ashley Antkowiak says...

      It made me want to find one! I’ve tried counseling before (I literally went to one session, and sat in my car and cried afterward, and not in a good way!) and this book has me convinced I need to find a good therapist who I click with.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, me too! i tried to find a therapist in the fall and they were all SO different. one was very sarcastic and said she used humor in her approach (it didn’t work for me). another felt like a teacher and would ask me questions like “when can negative emotions actually be good?” and i felt like it was a little young for me. one was really nice but didn’t seem to “get” what i was talking about. and finally one was amazing and really understood me! it was a fascinating process to “try out” all the different styles and therapists.

    • Honour says...

      Sometimes therapy has been similar to when you take your car into the garage because it makes that noise… but then it doesn’t make that noise. The decision to start therapy makes you feel so much better. I was actually feeling that maybe this was just a great conversation I got to have every week but then…..the actual world stopped and I feel so grateful to have that touch point.

    • Leigh says...

      Yes!! My therapist doesn’t say much, which made me wonder whether I’m being a bulldozer and avoiding my own anxieties by filling all the silence rather than letting him speak more freely. I started to worry if maybe he feels that I won’t be comfortable with him challenging me (which is a frightening thought).

    • j says...

      I have been in therapy on/off for years for various reasons, and I recently stopped seeing a therapist, because it didn’t feel like her approach was working for me and I wasn’t moving forward. I would go to therapy and talk, and really all I would get in response is “I hear you. That sounds hard.” All validation, no insight, no challenge. And I am sure that strategy is helpful for some people, no doubt!

      But as I contemplated ending our time together, I wondered if I was expecting too much. This book really illustrated that some therapists are much more willing to push you, to guide the conversation, to ask hard questions, and to get at very deep insights that you may not realize about yourself. It made me feel like I had done the right thing and convinced me more than ever that having the right therapist for you is key.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, j! when wendell said, “you’re in a fight with death!” i was so shocked — in a good way. he was really pushing her to see what she was really going through underneath it all.

    • LS says...

      I’m actually in the process of transitioning therapists right now (because of a move). The book made me appreciate my former therapist that much more and at the same time reminded me to give my new therapist more of a chance. It’s sort of irrational to expect to feel close to someone very quickly or for them to understand you immediately, but I long to develop that connection so we can “get to the good stuff.”

    • Amy says...

      For a few chapters there, I was CONVINCED that “Wendell” was actually a therapist I used to see when I lived in New York! Then I realized Lori lives in Los Angeles. Guess the world contains two guys that good…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so funny, amy! did your therapist also slap his legs when the session was over?:)

    • Moriah says...

      I was already so grateful for my therapist, but it really helped me see how the job of being a therapist is really amazing. Seeing that growth in people must be so cool! It convinced me to finish my mater’s degree in mental health counseling I quit years ago. Hopefully, I can start again next year!

    • Katie says...

      Yes. I try not to “plan” what I am going to talk about and just let the conversation happen. Also, it made me realize how cool she is. She sits with people in their grief, struggles and happiness all day. Thats a really hard job, and I am glad she wants to do it.

    • Lindsay says...

      (ooooh, I love this!) I left my (wonderful) therapist when I moved last summer and miss her so much! This book made me miss her even more.

      I was wondering: if the book made Lori’s patients this of HER differently — and how it affects her relationships with new patients (has she addressed this in interviews, or in articles?) I haven’t seen anything , I don’t think, but as a trained-but-not-practicing-therapist, I wondered this from the start.

    • Dana says...

      Completely! It made me question the beliefs I had taken on from our culture – that conventional therapy will just get you to talk and talk and talk and make no changes. Changes happen through relationship – and your relationship to your therapist can be a powerful one. And it makes sense that that would take time to develop. If only it weren’t such an expensive relationship to foster!

    • Isa says...

      Totally especially the fact that I never realized I needed her to like me which I think she does and that it’s part of it

  68. Joanna Goddard says...

    If you haven’t gone to therapy before, did the book make you want to try?

    • Ashley Antkowiak says...

      Oops! Haha see my comment above. Yes it made me want to go!

    • Liz says...

      One of the interesting things in this book was the number of patients (including Lori) who didn’t fully realize the reason they actually needed therapy. This book made me wonder what challenges I may have going on in my life that I can’t even recognize as being a reason for therapy yet.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, liz! that was so fascinating to me too! their “presenting issue” was so different from the underlying issues they really needed help with — especially john.

    • L says...

      yes! I’ve been procrastinating finding a therapist. this is definitely making me want to go for it. but confinement is also letting me procrastinate for a little longer…

    • Lydia says...

      Yes! I have never been to therapy and after listening to the book, so full of insight into the humanity of counseling, I feel like I wanted the connection and health rendered from therapy sessions. I want to learn how to listen better, how to wait before speaking, how to have immediate and active compassion for someone who isnt initially likeable. I didn’t know what my goals for therapy would be…but I see distinct traits that I want to emulate and incorporate in my life and my relationships. I know finding the perfect “fit” isnt easy but the book made me want to try!

    • Taylor says...

      Yes!! However, I think Lori’s prowess may have ruined my expectations! She seems like a therapy dreamboat :) I’ve thought about it many times before, but it’s currently cost prohibitive – especially when you think about “trying on” a few different therapists to find the right fit.

    • Annie K. says...

      I’ve gone to therapy before – a couple of try-on 2-3 sessions and 2 longer-term (1 year, 1.5 yrs couples counseling. I’m also a clinical social worker and am on the verge of starting my private practice (when COVID hit! pushing back the start date). I loved this book for many reasons, but one is that it is really reminding me how important it will be for me to be in therapy again, especially once I’m seeing clients, despite the daunting cost.

      My failed therapy experiences: One therapist was so seemingly uncomfortable the whole time of our two sessions, edging as close to her bookshelf as possible throughout our time. The other one I tried was a social worker, like me, and had worked at a hospital, like I did at the time (I was using our EAP program), early in her career. She was preoccupied with showing she understood every nuance of my struggles and job that everything stayed very superficial, almost like a happy hour bitch session. I LOVE Lori’s advice I heard on Armchair Expert and she echoes above – try one session, and see – did they “get it?” Did I feel heard, understood? That’s got to be the simplest, best filtering advice. Neither of my “try on” therapists would have made it. Both of the effective, long-term therapists would have.

      I wish therapy were easier to start – I used to try to connect people with therapists when I worked at the hospital, and insurance-covered lists are often not up-to-date, and therapists often don’t call back, and then there’s the matter of arranging and intake and trying on, and it’s expensive…I think in person or face:face via computer are the best modes of therapy. I hope our “system” gets it together to make it easier to access therapy. But for those willing to invest time at the beginning to do all this and try on therapists – I believe Lori is so right when she says there’s nothing with a greater impact on our quality of life than our emotional life (other than covering our safety and essential needs, i.e. maslow’s hierarchy).

      Loved the book. I’m so glad to have read it.

    • Lisa says...

      YES! 100%. But I feel conflicted about my goals for therapy and the time/money commitments and questions about insurance. :/ My spouse and I have also talked about doing couples therapy for “preventative maintenance” but again with the time commitment (especially as working parents). Therapy sounds like such a great idea, but taking the first step is hard.

    • Meg says...

      HELL YES! I have many friends and family who have benefited from therapy and I’ve always known its an option, but never felt the need in my own life. Cut to my move across the country, new city, new job, + everything that comes with setting up a home (buying a car, insurance, etc.) and it was all a LOT. I had been wanting to start therapy for MONTHS – it was on the never-ending To-Do list. I think I was a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect
      – what long forgotten things were hiding in my brain and heart?? This book provided clarity into what the process could be and got me genuinely excited to find and start going to therapy. I’ve now had 6 appts and could not recommend it more!

    • Carolina says...

      Yes! I would love to try therapy but think it must be hard to find “the one”.

    • Ivy says...

      Before I read this book I was already considering therapy because of my parents’ traumatic divorce, which happened when I was 13 (I’m 29 now). Since I finished college I have felt it might be in my best interest to discuss some of those things instead of holding onto them. That being said, reading the book and seeing that there are/can be such thoughtful therapists out there made me finally pull the trigger! I’ve only gone twice, but I’ve found it to be helpful so far. I actually sometimes think to myself, “Maybe you don’t have enough issues for therapy…” but I’m going to keep going until I feel the knot loosen.

  69. Joanna Goddard says...

    Do you have a therapist? How did you find him or her? Did it take a few tries to find the right fit?

    • Emily G. says...

      My husband and I had a joint therapist that we did premarital counseling with, and then would see together at various times in our relationship. But after I had my twins, I spent two years dealing with postpartum depression/trauma/anxiety and finally got to a place where I feel like I could come up for air and ask for help. But I realized I needed to find my OWN therapist, who only knew me and could focus on my specific needs. I also felt like I needed a female therapist who would understand my challenges from a female perspective. I ended finding someone by searching my church’s website where they list recommended professional service providers. We immediately connected and we met for over a year. She changed my life and helped me work through some of the most dark issues of my life. To this day, I still want to call or email her when I have a breakthrough or find myself working through issues on my own by recalling her wise counsel. Therapy has been the best form of self-care I could have ever given myself as a wife and mother.

    • Honour says...

      Yes I do and it was finally a rec from a friend that led me to the right person.
      I had been searching online through my insurer but so many of them were religiously based which was a no-go for me.

    • Leigh says...

      I had a few consultations, some of them with people I found through a work network, others through Psychology Today. I ended up finding my guy through the latter. He was the first one who didn’t suggest that I quit my job in order to solve my problems, which didn’t feel realistic at the time.

    • L says...

      I moved cities recently and had always seen female therapists – I thought we’d be able to relate better, woman-to-woman. This book inspired me to find a therapist in my new city, and to not focus so much on gender when searching for a therapist. Lori finds Wendell based on her needs and fit, and doesn’t bat an eye that he’s a male therapist. Long story short, I found a therapist who happens to be male and it’s a great fit!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s great, L! i always thought i’d want a female therapist, too, but the therapist i liked most this fall was male. so interesting!

    • C says...

      I had never done therapy, but my office got a once a week therapist for employees because it’s such a high stress environment. I had just moved across the country with my husband of 12 years, and it was a very stressful time, near a big promotion. I wasn’t very happy, but couldn’t identify the problem, and immediately clicked with the therapist. Within 30 minutes of my first session telling her about my great husband, the office therapist goes, “if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were talking about your 12 year old son, not your husband.” It. Blew. My Mind. It reminded me of Lori’s descriptions of knowing when to drop truth bombs, and this therapist somehow saw I needed a wake up call. It built immediate intimacy and curiosity to work with her more. Through a series of conversations (all in the office!), she helped me decide to separate from him, find a couples therapist and then my husband and I jointly decided to divorce. Through the process, I felt like I learned a new language to discuss my emotional life, and can consciously access a part of me I didn’t understand. I’m now in a great 1.5 year relationship with a new person, and still see my therapist when I need it.

    • Jillian says...

      I had the same therapist from the time I was ten until I left for college (my parents were – are still are – really big on therapy) and, as an adult, it was hard to find that same kind of bond with a new therapist. It took a really long time, a lot of “trial periods,” and a few big, painful life events before I found someone who is the right mix of scientific & spiritual, sympathetic & tough, etc.. I’ve been in therapy long enough now that I can usually anticipate what she’s going to suggest, which, to me, means it’s working! But sometimes it’s hard to make the jump from having that extra external reassurance to being able to reassure myself. It’s interesting what Lori said about wanting people to leave. I kind of always believed (and was raised to believe) that therapy was a life-long thing, meant to help you through the ups & downs of living. Hmmm.

    • j says...

      It’s helpful to hear from Jo and L about finding a good fit with male therapists. I admit that I have always shied away from male therapists, because I worry that I won’t be comfortable/won’t be able to really open up, and potentially that they might not really understand what I’m going through (which, I’ll be honest, might sometimes include grief/rage about sexism and being misunderstood). I’m glad to hear that other folks have had good experiences in spite of initial misgivings. It makes me wonder if I should cast a wider net to find my perfect fit!

    • Suzanne says...

      I LOVE MY THERAPIST!!!

      I’ve seen her on-and-off for over 10 years now and I honestly couldn’t imagine being where I am today without her and the progress we did together.

      I first started seeing her with my ex in couples’ therapy – we were so young! She actually helped us break up officially in her office…

      I continued to see her on my own for years afterwards (my ex did too – but that eventually became a bit problematic so I claimed her as “my own” in the break-up).

      I’ve always connected with her deeply – and she’s provided the right things at the right moments. She also definitely calls me out on my sh*t (lovingly, caringly, but firmly) and I’ve always appreciated that.

      We’re not actively in therapy because we agreed that I should GO! LIVE! LIFE! rather than analyzing everything and I miss her so much…

      She’s not taking any new clients now, but has always told me that whenever I need her, she’ll be there. That’s always been a source of comfort for me.

    • Bailey says...

      My primary care physician referred me to my therapist. I have an HMO which has more hurdles to jump over to get to therapy and I feel very lucky that I connected with the person she referred me to. It did take 3-4 sessions to get into a groove, but eventually going to her gave me the same feeling that I get after I get a manicure or get my hair cut. Like it’s a special “me time” and I’m honestly so thankful for that.

    • Moriah says...

      I have a therapist, and I chose her because we have the same unique name. Sounds kind of silly, but I thought “I like myself so maybe I’ll like her!” Ha. I had previously seen two other therapists who were older women in their 60s-70s (I’m 27). For me, I found it helpful finding a therapist closer to my age that I could discuss social media and this phase of life and feel like she really GETS IT because we’re the same age.

    • heather says...

      No currently but in the past. I think about going back often but have moved and sometimes the thought of getting started is exhausting even though I enjoy and benefit from the unbiased opinion and feeling understood when I otherwise don’t for sure!

    • Christine says...

      We no longer go, but my husband and I were experiencing some severe relationship issues and ended up going to therapy together. I reached out to a friend in desperation and she’s the one who suggested therapy and gave me the contact info for her therapist. We ended up doing both joint and individual sessions since our therapist was a good fit. We lucked out the first time and are doing so much better than before. Great book choice!

    • I went to counseling in college (12 years ago). The resident director of my dorm referred me to a counselor who had a pay-what-you-can system and I think I paid $35 an hour. I loved her from the start! I think of her often and wish I could see her now!

    • Andrea says...

      How do people afford to shop for a therapist? If a session is $100-300, it’s not something I can afford to shop around.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      andrea, i think some therapists will offer the first session free, so you can ask to see if that’s the case? xo

    • Isa says...

      I went to see 4 therapists in my life at different time point but I only clicked with the second and fourth that I’m still seeing. I still have comments from the second one in my head sometimes. The fourth one I did internet research and she was highly recommended and I felt after two sessions she could be good for me. It was really interesting in the book to see that the therapist will be a few steps ahead of hou which explains why when I come up with a new thing I understand about myself her reaction is usually Yes exactly you found it

  70. Joanna Goddard says...

    In the book, who did you relate to — John, Julie, Charlotte, Rita or Lori herself?

    • Ashley Antkowiak says...

      I guess Lori herself a little bit? I’ve never been through a breakup (married my first love, highschool sweetheart!), but I’m a mom and I loved that her story involved seeing her own role in her circumstances. I think it’s important to remember that we have a part to play, too.

    • Ann says...

      I definitely related to Lori, especially how at the beginning she just wanted validation for her way of seeing the breakup.

    • Nancy says...

      I loved all the characters but Julie had to be my favorite. She tried so hard to be well, have a baby, and be just normal but it just wasn’t in the cards for her. And I think she was so brave on how she approached the end of her life. And the issues John had to work out! But he did and you really grew to love that man!

    • LS says...

      I thought the genius of the book was that I could relate to all of the main characters. Sometimes I’m kind of jerk that’s angry at the world. But I’m also dealing with some heavy stuff and ironically that stuff has made me grow as a person and appreciate things about myself that I do like. I can be self-destructive. I have regrets, and my self-esteem is not always great. I think you see where I’m going with this…

    • shannon says...

      Well I’m a therapist and also in my own therapy, so definitely Lori. Reading her interview here is amazing. I aim for a similar therapy style in some ways (aiming to find the good/best in each client, allowing clients to take out the trash so you can sit in the quiet and wait for the ‘real’ stuff to emerge, the chess match approach). I recommended her book to my own therapist and then proceeded to over-analyze what that said about me and how it would impact my therapist’s opinion of me, ha. I’ve also had the experience of putting together that a client’s spouse was seeing my own therapist which is an odd feeling.

      Overall she captures the essence of therapy in a way that I feel in my work but rarely see in books/movies/media depictions of therapy which tend to be one-dimensional. We are not just therapist|client but two people – messy, imperfect, with 167.17 hours we live each week outside of the therapy room. More than anything else about the book, I loved that she captures that dynamic. Excited to see if that will translate into the TV adaptation!!

    • Anonymous says...

      I felt for them all, but had a soft spot for John.

      I had a miscarriage that was actually an abnormal molar pregnancy which meant I had to start having chemo treatment immediately . It was crazy. I crossed out my due date on my calendar and literally started adding chemotherapy dates. That first year I just kept myself going going going. Sort of like John on autopilot!

      It was only after my chemo was done, when I was given the permission to try for a baby after a year waiting period, and I didn’t get pregnant for months, I felt the grief emerge from somewhere full force. I was sad. I was mad. I was SO DONE. I was so angry that I went though what I did.

      But I had to feel all that I think.

      I now have that baby I so badly wanted :)

    • Illana says...

      Oh Gosh I related to them all. The struggles were so vivid and recognizable. Maybe if I had to pick one I related to the most it was Lori, because I am a single parent, mid-40s, and I want very much to show my kids what it is to shine at full-wattage while we are in this life. There are such a variety of things that get in the way of seeing clearly how I can do that, though, because of the stories we tell ourselves, and anxieties and confusion that gets in the way – almost constantly!

    • Carolina says...

      I related to John, less on the asshole part and more on hiding your feeling behind jokes and being uncomfortable with things getting too emotional.
      To Charlotte, on falling again and again on things that I know don’t suit me.
      To Rita on being too hard on my mistakes.

    • Cooper says...

      Julie’s story was so hard for me to read – I’m terrified of discovering I have cancer – I almost put the book down. Instead, I just skimmed through and read all of Julie’s chapters first :) And of course John’s revelation about his son was horrific, and I still can’t get her description of the wailing mother in the ER out of my head. In the end, as hard as hearing those stories are, it is helpful to know how resilient we humans are – Julie was able to experience joy and have a meaningful end to her life, John was able to deeply love his daughters and reconnect with his wife, and, in Lori’s imagination, even the couple who lost the toddler was able to recover.

      I am doing a free online course (the Science of Wellbeing from Yale – highly recommend), and learning about one concept in particular has really helped me – “hedonic adaptation,” meaning our brains adapt to our circumstances, and even after dramatic life changes (good or bad), our happiness levels eventually return to our baseline. It helps me to remind my anxious brain that even if the worst happens, there is hope for future joy, too.

    • Peggy says...

      I would definitely say Julie. Not because of the cancer, but because of her desire to work at Trader Joe’s. I am an adjunct professor at a community college, and my husband and I had to move for his job about 18 months ago. Since then, I have not been able to find a job. I always think it would be so much fun to work at Trader Joe’s, because the people who work there are so fun, and always have such a positive attitude. I would love to work in that kind of an atmosphere everyday!

    • Jess says...

      Everyone. I found the characters prismatic. I could see a bit of me in all them. In every chapter I found myself saying, “I do that” or grimacing because I could relate too well. I read this during my state’s “Stay At Home” order and have processed so much more than I would have if it was simply wedged into my normal schedule. It was really the perfect book for me this spring. Given all that is happening around the world, having a moment to breathe and recalibrate my internal world is a great luxury.

    • Sally Bluhm says...

      I was shocked to discover how much compassion I had for John, and by the end, how much I loved him and wanted the best for him. He was like an onion – so many layers of pain.

    • Dana says...

      I related to Rita. Her struggle to let go and to let in. I don’t have a list of regrets, and I still have (hopefully) the majority of my life to live, but still it’s hard to let go of the old and let in the new. To move forward with your life into unchartered territory feels terrifying for me. Good thing I have a good therapist to help ;)

    • Isa says...

      I related with Charlotte and Lorinthe most as I just came out of several bad relationship but finally understood I was choosing the wrong partners for me and the last meaniful connection end from one day to the next but taking a step back I could have seen it coming so the book actually helped me see it.