I've started dropping the name of Irvin Yalom when talking to my students. So far it's been pretty successful, with a couple of them reading his work and expressing pleasure in what he's written. So I wanted to put something about Yalom on this blog with a list of references and a few links to resources.
In my opinion Irvin Yalom is one of the world's great therapists. I've formed this view after many years reading his books and watching his DVDs. His writing includes intellectual work on existential psychotherapy and therapeutic groups; several novels, Lying on the Couch, When Nietszche Wept and The Schopenhauer Cure; works about the process of therapy; two collections of case studies, the finest of which is a wonderful bedtime read and called, Loves Executioner; recent works include a book about death anxiety called, Staring at the Sun. A novel about the philosopher Spinoza is published in March 2012.
Yalom's DVDs include an amazing set of recordings on the practice of inpatient and outpatient group therapy. It seems to me that Yalom is an amazingly humane, empathic and sensitive man in those films. The work is pretty challenging but the overall impression is of Yalom accepting and working with whatever his patients bring. Carl Rogers talked about 'prizing' his clients and I think this is what Yalom achieves. Another DVD sees a much older Yalom (he's 80 now) providing case consultation for a number of psychotherapists; again the same themes re-occur: existentialism, working in the here-and-now, therapy in groups, the therapeutic relationship and the importance of dreams. In his supervision session Yalom listens out for these themes as they emerge in the course of the consultation, it's nice to watch.
So here are some Irvin Yalom links.
Psychotherapy.net is a Yalom company. Their YouTube site includes clips from Yalom's DVDs here
Most of his books (and now his DVDs too) are available on Amazon here
1992 When Nietzsche Wept
What if the existential philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, had asked Freud for help with his neurosis and benefited from the talking cure?
1996 Lying on the Couch
Twists and turns as a client out for revenge entraps her therapist
A philosophy teacher with a love for the pessimistic philosopher Arnold Schopenhauer joins a therapy group.
2012 The Spinoza Problem
Soon to be published - mine is on order!
Yalom's huge contribution to the practice of group therapy
Yalom and his patient write an account of their therapy together. Thus he can charge her reduced fees and help with her writing block. I read this and thought Yalom was way off with some of his interventions - an honest account of therapy in all it's movement and stuckness.
Yalom's magisterial account of existential psychotherapy, in which existential concerns (freedom, isolation, meaning and death) are presented as the unwavering facts of our existence, to be addressed in therapy, the cause of great and often displaced anxiety.
More insights into group work where distressed individuals are able to work on their own issues by working with each other.
Wonderful set of case studies - Yalom called them his teaching tales. Each is full of wisdom, thoughts about practice and Yalom's core concerns.
1998 The Yalom Reader
A selection of Yalom's writing from his novels and text books
More case studies or teaching tales with a focus on existential issues and in particular our mortality and what that means
2001 The Gift of Therapy
Beautifully written short chapters covering numerous FAQs about the practice of good therapy.
As Yalom has got older the subject of death has become more compelling. This is a book length treatment of death anxiety and how it might be overcome, containing Yalom's idea of 'the ripple effect'.