Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

By Lori Gottlieb, Lori Gottlieb

165,502 ratings - 4.37* vote

From a New York Times best-selling author, psychotherapist, and national advice columnist, a hilarious, thought-provoking, and surprising new book that takes us behind the scenes of a therapist's world -- where her patients are looking for answers (and so is she). One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis cause From a New York Times best-selling author, psychotherapist, and national advice columnist, a hilarious,

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Book details

Hardcover, 415 pages
April 2nd 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Original Title
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
ISBN
1328662055 (ISBN13: 9781328662057)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Jessica Jeffers

If you've followed me here on Goodreads for any length of time, you probably know that I am incredibly passionate about mental health advocacy. It's something that we need to talk about more, so we can break down the stigma surrounding it and more people can pursue help. So it should not be a surprise that I was excited to read a memoir about a therapist pursuing therapy to help her deal with her own issues—or that I absolutely loved the book.

These days, I'm pretty open about the fact that I see a therapist and I love it. I have (only semi) jokingly said many times that I think everyone should give it a try at least twice—go to the initial intake appointment then go at least once more to get a feel for it. Even if you don't think you have a diagnosable condition such as anxiety or depression, just talking out your challenges and breaking down your less-than-great behavioral patterns with an unbiased third party can be an eye-opening experience. It's taken me a long while to get to the point where I feel comfortable talking about it with others, and I appreciate anything, like this book, that will help more people talk about the process.

Lori Gottlieb pursued a career as a therapist relatively late in life. She started out as a TV writer, but her time on ER spurred her to more seriously think about a medical career. She worked as a freelance writer while attending medical school and gradually began to feel pulled in too many different directions. It was the "helping people" part of medicine that most strongly interested her, so an advisor suggested that she switch from and MD to a PhD in psychotherapy.

And yet, she hadn't really been in therapy herself, outside of the practice sessions she was required to do as part of her training. So when her fiancee ends their relationship out of the blue and she finds that she has trouble processing her emotions about the situation, Gottlieb decides to seek out some professional help. Using some clandestine methods, she asks a friend for a recommendation and begins seeing Wendell, a therapist to whom she has no professional or personal connections (a surprising challenge!)

Gottlieb starts out thinking that she just needs a couple of sessions to get over this hump, as it were, but her conversations with Wendell make her see that she could actually use more help than she realized. It's a jarring realization, but it's also one that seems to make her a better therapist as it makes more clear the struggle some of her patients have in connecting the dots between their pasts and their presents, their problematic behaviors and the painful consequences, and being honest about things that don't put themselves in the best light.

The memoir is divided between recounting Gottlieb's sessions with Wendell, her sessions with her own patients (specific details of which I have to believe have been heavily obscured), and a little bit about her path toward becoming a therapist and single mother. The result is an incredibly open and honest look at the therapy process that lays it out better than any other depiction of therapy I've ever read—Gottlieb makes it clear that your therapist is not there to tell you what to do but to help you recognize how your own patterns might be causing you unnecessary pain, but she's also honest in showing how hard it is to recognize not-so-flattering sides of ourselves and how deeply ingrained our those patterns can be. She's deeply empathetic, even when her patients frustrate her. She seems deeply committed to learning how to be better as a therapist and a patient.

I even spent a good chunk of a session talking about this book with my own therapist, partly because I knew it was something she'd enjoy reading and I can never not recommend a book to anyone when I think they'd enjoy it, but also because reflecting on Gottlieb's experiences genuinely helped me have a breakthrough about some of the work that I've been doing for the last couple of years. This is a great memoir and I highly recommend it to all readers.

Cindy

I read the first 2/3 of the physical book and teetered between 4 or 5 stars before I switched to the audiobook in the last 1/3 and ended up crying in a few of the chapters, solidifying the 5-star rating. The author comes across as genuine and insightful in her writing, and the narrator does such a good job at sounding compassionate and patient, as if I were listening to the therapist herself. She wrote a lot of insights that resonated with me, like how we often stay in our negative mindset because it's easier than trying to break free into the unknown, or how we use anger as a way to cover up our sadness (I'm paraphrasing here, but she writes it way better in the book haha). I also loved going through her three patients' emotional journeys, finding out more about their lives, and crying along with them for all the tragedies and breakthroughs. They each personally resonated with me in different ways. I don't think the book is perfect: sometimes it can feel pretty longwinded, and the therapist's personal story is the least interesting and definitely the weakest part of the book. However, I am moved enough by her patients' stories and the takeaways that I feel compelled to give it 5 stars. It's a good reminder to be more compassionate towards others, and to yourself.

Justin Tate

Face it, we could all use therapy. This memoir pulls back the curtain on the benefits of therapy, the stigmas, our hesitancy to open up about mental health, and also becomes a celebration of life.

The setup is that Lori, a therapist herself, experiences a life-shattering breakup and decides to start therapy mostly for selfish reasons--getting someone to agree that her ex-boyfriend is a jerk. Juxtaposed with that are the stories of Lori’s clients and their growth. While Lori experiences growth, she has an increased understanding of the other side of the sofa, and her own complex emotions.

It’s all a little sappy and a lot awesome. The stories of her clients are funny, heart-breaking, and touch on relatable topics. Some intimately and others in theory. She changes names, of course, but otherwise doesn’t hold back. I suspect consent forms had to be signed because we get to eavesdrop on many unfiltered, deeply personal conversations.

(Side note: if anybody knows the true identity of John, the Hollywood TV writer, please leave a comment. I’m dying to know!)

Honesty and extreme vulnerability is what makes this stand out. For those of us who have never experienced therapy, it’s a great way to understand how it works and how it helps. The book itself is therapy, however. Seeing Lori cry her eyes out on the therapist coach, once even anxious when her therapist is late for a session, is beyond beautiful. We all have baggage, and even mental health experts need support.

Lori only covers the stories of a few individuals, and herself, but their dilemmas are universal enough that reading this book is probably the equivalent of several therapy sessions. Or maybe it’s the gateway you need to actually sign up with an open mind. I’m giving it four stars for now because I do think it’s overlong in places, but I suspect the more I think about it, the more this will round up to a perfect five. Any book that can change my perspective on life, as this one does, deserves top praise.

Elyse Walters

Audiobook…narrated by
Brittany Pressley... ( Brittany was excellent). I can see reasons for owing a hard copy as well as the Audiobook.

Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist who writes a “Dear Therapist” advice column. She lives in Los Angeles. She attended Yale and Stanford University. She has an impressive life/ career resume.

We are taken into her therapy sessions with her clients. We also walk through the door with Lori for sessions with her therapist.

This book is the real deal.... not cheesy- cheap advice.

From both sides of the couch - Lori is easy to relate to. She has it terrific sense of humor. She brings out thoughts & feelings in us - that melt naturally into our skin as easy as smoothing coconut oil on.

She’s not obnoxious- or too over the top. She’s honest - reminding us how human we all are. It’s fascinating watching the way a therapist cracks open the slippery little salamanders -that people ( all of us), don’t want exposed - especially when feeling too vulnerable or threatened.

Loss, grief, betrayal, failure,
depression, change, ... it’s all covered and more.
We become clear the way good therapy works - therapist can’t change situations but they can help clients have a deeper understanding of themselves.
Lori shares about her life experience and daily conversations being as important to bring into a session when working with a client as much as her of academic training.

This book is seriously personal and primal!

Absolutely outstanding- excellent - compassionate - and informative.

Two thumbs UP!!!!!











Thomas

A warm, engaging, and funny book about a therapist who sees a therapist after her boyfriend breaks up with her. I so appreciate Maybe You Should Talk to Someone for further destigmatizing therapy. I read somewhere that my generation is the “therapy generation” and yet so much stigma and misinformation surrounding therapy persists. Gottlieb describes her experience in therapy for herself and the therapy she provides to a few different patients with compassion and humor. Her writing style is conversational and demystifies therapy, both the process and the emotion involved, and her deep care for her patients and her own therapist is wonderful to read. I always wanted to know what would happen next, and Gottlieb’s insights always resonated on an emotional level without restoring to cliché. Just a few ideas that stood out to me and/or felt relevant to my own life: 1) that we often turn to anger when we feel hurt, that we lash out at others or ourselves in periods of intense emotional distress, 2) all relationships will involve some level of being hurt, either you being hurt or you hurting someone else, it’s a matter of repairing that rupture after the conflict occurs and setting boundaries surrounding how much you’re willing to put up with, and 3) I’m not alone in having Facebook and internet-stalked my therapist (thank you Lori Gottlieb for normalizing my own behavior there lol!)

I do rate this book four stars very intentionally, because Gottlieb does not acknowledge the importance of race, privilege, power, oppression, intersectionality, or culture, at all in this book. I felt shocked that as such a competent therapist, she wouldn’t mention the importance of taking into account how societal oppression affects patients and the therapy process and dyad (I think she mentioned men being socialized to withhold emotional expression, but aside from that, nothing). It’s so important that therapists educate themselves on how to be culturally competent, and after reading this I’m honestly unsure if Gottlieb would be the type of therapist who might commit a microaggression against a client or not acknowledge her privilege or power in the therapy dyad. For people of color, queer people, and those at the intersections of marginalized identities, I’d recommend this article (https://theestablishment.co/how-to-fi...) to help you navigate how to find a therapist who’s with it and will understand important concepts and lived experiences related to oppression and intersectionality. I also feel like this book would have benefited from Gottlieb acknowledging her own privileges, in particular her whiteness, especially in terms of the smoothness of her career development trajectory despite multiple transitions.

Overall, would recommend to those who want an engaging reading experience and are curious about or passionate about therapy. As a therapist who’s into writing I’m appreciative that Gottlieb has expanded the canon of books about therapy, especially from a more modern perspective. I think we should all talk to someone, ideally a therapist, at some point in our lives, if we have the resources to.

j e w e l s

ONE STAR AUDIO

It's not you, it's me.

Anne Bogel enthusiastically raved about this book on her weekly podcast What Should I Read Next. She recommended it in the same breath as Ask Again, Yes and I am obsessed with that book. So, despite my misgivings about listening to all the therapist-speak, I used a precious Audible credit on Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed.

Lori Gottlieb has had an interesting life working in Hollywood first as a tv producer on shows like Friends. Then, quitting that glam life to enter medical school, then quitting medical school to train as a therapist. All the while, freelance writing and selling her articles to magazines. Got all that?

I could only listen to 3 or 4 hours of this tormentingly long novel before screaming and throwing in the towel. Gottlieb comes off as completely self-indulgent, self-obsessed and, weirdly--NOT FUNNY. She, seriously finds herself most amusing. Ugh.

I returned this Audible book (did you know you can do that?) and bought another Anne Bogel recommendation. Yeah, I still trust the lady with her book suggestions. But, I'm gonna listen to my own instincts first!

Anne Bogel

I enjoyed Gottlieb's previous book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough when it came out many moons ago, and was delighted to see her new release. (It was also fun to see where life had taken her in the intervening years.) Now a psychotherapist, in these pages Gottlieb gets to the heart of what matters in life: how do we grow, how do we change, how do we connect with each other—and how can we do it all more effectively?

She explores human nature through the lens of psychotherapy, employing an unusual two-pronged approach to show us how therapy really works. First, Gottlieb introduces us to four of her patients, taking us inside the room to show us what happens in their sessions. But Gottlieb is also in therapy herself, thanks to a sudden breakup, and through her eyes, we get the patient’s perspective as well. I so enjoyed getting to know the people in these pages, session by session, and rooted hard for them as they worked through the process.

Part memoir, part educational glimpse into the profession: if you like to learn something
from the books you read, and you enjoy a good story, well told, this is the book for you.

Allison

I'm really not sure what to say about this book. The positives: I like that it is open and honest about mental health, therapy, self-love, and facing our fears (even if we're unaware what those fears are!) More books with a focus on these themes need to be written! I felt close to each character as I got to know them and truly cared about the outcome of each of their stories.

The not-so-positives: I'm not really sure what the "point" of this book is. It seemed like a journal that the author later decided to publish (which she kind of admits to at the end). It was clearly therapeutic to her to write it and make sense of what she had been through, but I'm not sure how helpful her breakup experience is to the rest of us. The structure was a bit disorganized (chronologically) and hard to follow at times; there did not seem to be a clear plot with problem and resolution. I kept finding myself thinking, "Wow, that's [emotion or reactionary adjective here], but...so what? Is this relevant to the rest of the 'story' somehow?" I would have liked there to be a bit more focus, and irrelevant details could have been left out to move the book along and help readers understand what the author wanted the message or theme to be.

Overall, I'm glad I read this book; I connected with the characters in many ways and cared for their wellbeing. I just wish it had been more strategically written and organized so that I would be left understanding what the author was really trying to communicate. It could have been a lot more powerful.

Marina

I'm writing this review to see if I can make sense of my experience with this book. Even though I found myself immersed in it for days, and making as much time as possible to read it, the experience ended up not being completely satisfying for a few reasons.

My main complaint is: the stories are real but are supposedly disguised enough to protect her clients' privacy... so they aren't real. I was reading about those compelling characters and wondering what percentage of what she tells is the truth. Fifty percent truth is not the same as ten percent truth, and what's the point of detailing a therapeutic process if you've invented and mixed up the stories for literary/privacy purposes? I'm a therapist myself and I know how unique each case is, how the effect of a sentence or an intervention depends on that person's particular context, so I don't see the value on basing it in real stories unless they're a hundred percent real. Also, the dialogues can't be real either, unless she records the sessions, which she doesn't clarify. It makes me wonder if it's all a bit polished up to fit the narrative, which feels a tiny bit scammy.

That's why think this would have worked better as a novel. Lori is a very good writer and she builds great characters (I loved John and the dialogues between the two of them). This semi-disguised format makes me feel as she's faking the honesty and the sharing, so I'd have rather read something that's completely made up and taking it for what it is: fiction.

I also feel like Lori holds back a lot of her personal struggles, maybe for lack of physical space, since the book is already veeery long. I've read her prior book about finding a partner, Marry Him, and knowing how hard her struggle to find a partner was before Boyfriend, I'd have guessed that's what made her break up with him that painful. But she says nothing about that (maybe because she doesn't want this book and Marry Him to overlap?) and talks about everything else in her life instead. She tries so hard to make a point of her meltdown not being about her love life that she forgets to talk about her love life entirely, and it comes across as insincere if you know where she comes from.

The Wendell character falls flat for me. I don't see the quirkiness in his way of doing therapy, maybe because I've known my share of quirky therapist and believe me: he doesn't cut it. Check out Milton Erickson or Giorgio Nardone's interventions: THAT'S quirky. Gottlieb tells but doesn't show that Wendell is a 'different' kind of therapist, but I can't tell the difference between his and her way of doing therapy, at least from the interactions she writes about.

My last problem with the book is about her misleading explanation of what therapy is. There are a lot of ways to do therapy and some of her assertions work just for a few of them. You can do brief therapy successfully. You can do Skype therapy successfully. I am a licensed therapist too and some of her beliefs about the nature of human suffering and the right way to alleviate it are completely wrong to me, but I wouldn't write a book about my particular therapeutic orientation without disclaiming that other professionals might think and practice just the opposite. It's a disservice to the profession that can misguide people in search of help into thinking that the only way they can get it is if they spend months and months doing weekly face to face therapy with tons of silences.

The book does have its merits. It's compelling and I didn't get bored even though it's long. The dialogues are, as I said, funny and well-constructed. It makes you reflect on yourself and what you want to do with your life. The stories are engaging, even though you can't help but wonder whether everything really ended up with such a round, Hollywood-esque ending. And I personally like Lori very much. If she didn't quite hit the spot for me with this book it's because she takes risks with her writing, and I admire that.

JanB


What is therapy like? The author breaks down the walls and gives us a peek behind closed doors into her sessions with clients as well as sessions with her own therapist, who she consults after a devastating break-up. We also get glimpses into the author's education, career, and her personal life.

I felt as if I got to know her and her patients and I became invested in their lives. Details were changed for confidentiality, but the spirit of the stories remained true and the problems were real. I cried with Julie and cheered when John and Rita made breakthroughs. The author divulges some tricks of the trade and along the way imparts bits of wisdom that we can take away to use in our own lives.

I listened to this on audio and could have listened to more. The style is easy-going and totally engaging. I plan on getting a hard copy and putting a tin of book darts to good use.

Highly recommended to anyone who loves ‘behind the scene’ looks, character studies, and insight into all things psychological.

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