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Book Review: Creatures of a Day

As a therapist myself, I often find it difficult to express the indescribable joy of the therapy process and why I’m so passionate about its healing power. However, I don’t have to, now that the father of group psychotherapy himself, Irvin D. Yalom, has masterfully captured the experience in his new book Creatures of a Day

In a profession that exists exclusively behind closed doors, it’s rare and precious to get a real peek through the window to witness the raw power of the therapeutic process. Whether on the couch or in the therapist’s chair, we have all wondered at some point what is actually happening in other people’s sessions. This book is the best of its kind I’ve read to date, offering a tender and credible look behind the curtain, through a powerful series of vignettes.

Creatures of a Day presents real cases that not only highlight the soulful transformation that can take place within the therapeutic relationship, but are also grounded in truth, as each subject has read and approved the final draft of the story. Each standalone chapter dramatically ushers in each client, many of whom have been inspired to Yalom’s couch from his previous books. And as the book and sessions progress, it isn’t hard to imagine why these clients are so drawn to therapy with Yalom.

Any therapist who attended a day of graduate school knows Irvin D. Yalom. The 83-year-old psychiatrist, who has been practicing psychotherapy since the mid-1960s, wrote the preeminent book on group psychotherapy and is a legend in the field of psychology.

Yalom consistently shows his own humanness, layered with a deep understanding of the human psyche. Through the stories, he lays bare the sometimes imperfect way therapists stumble into helping people heal. One of my favorite stories in the book, “Thank you, Molly,” highlights how sometimes the most innocuous and unintended interventions can have the most powerful impact. While Yalom can wistfully remember the early days of being “rattled with uncertainty,” in this vignette, he inspires confidence that at the end of the day, it is providing a safe space, not fixing someone, that matters the most.

Yalom’s ability to humbly convey his therapeutic prowess while acknowledging his own internal struggles is both humanizing and relatable. The book expertly highlights how often a client already comes to the couch with sufficient insight; it is simply Yalom’s job to coax that insight to the surface by creating a deep sense of safety and permission.

Whether you’ve been or want to be a therapist, a client or both, this book is incredibly powerful. You could easily sit down on the beach or in front of a fire and devour this in an afternoon. It’s entertaining and real. However, I’d recommend you slow down, savor the experience, and explore all that these stories bring up for you.

If you are a therapeutic professional, I’d highly recommend reading this book as part of a book club or consultation group. There is powerful wisdom, insight, and questions raised about the therapeutic process, including inquiries about self-disclosure, the power of being known, the power of being able to share a client’s story, and so much more.

I’d also recommend professionals give a copy to their loved ones to read. With confidentiality at the forefront of this profession, it is almost impossible to talk about one’s work as a therapist without inadvertently sharing details of a confidential or private nature. This book can illustrate to loved ones how therapy works, the toll it takes, and why we still are so enthralled by the process.

Receiving a private, advanced copy of the book to read review has been both fantastic and ironically isolating, since my take is that the book is extremely validating and connecting. I found myself wanting to talk to others about the book, deeply desiring to reach out to my therapist colleagues and delve into each chapter alongside them.

Based on my personal reactions and responses to the book, I have already begun assembling a book club of therapists to tackle and discuss these pages. And I’d highly recommend you do the same, therapist or not.

If you are a therapist and interested in joining a Creatures of the Day monthly book club, order your copy and then click here to request access to the book club. We will add you to an online group where we will host monthly hangouts, and allow you to connect with other therapists near you.

Book Review: Creatures of a Day

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Worth Your Time! +++

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Miranda Palmer

Miranda Palmer, LMFT is a therapist who helps other therapists develop happy, full practices. Join the book club and take advantage of free private practice trainings here.

APA Reference
Palmer, M. (2016). Book Review: Creatures of a Day. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 12, 2019, from https://psychcentralreviews.com/2016/book-review-creatures-of-a-day/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 May 2016
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 May 2016
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.