Irvin Yalom, master therapist

Irvin D. Yalom

Irvin D. Yalom

How pleasantly surprised I was recently to see Irvin Yalom’s article in the New York Times’ Sunday Review section. Reading it brought tears to my eyes—partly because the article itself was so moving but mostly because it brought to mind the span of Yalom’s long and mighty career and the profound impact he’s had on so many of us. Part of my reaction was also spurred on by my belief that contemporary psychotherapy in NYC does not recognize Yalom nearly as much as he deserves—and so it just felt wonderful and warm to suddenly see/feel his presence right there at the center of our therapy-saturated city.

A random story:

I spoke to Yalom’s son Victor twice on the phone. The first time was many years ago when I sought to buy VHS educational videos of Irvin Yalom conducting and talking about psychotherapy. At that time Victor was in the early stages of starting his company which eventually became, an educational resource for therapists.

Fast forward about 13 years or so when I had occasion again to contact for something or other and Victor and I ended up on the phone together. To my surprise he remembered me because (1) I was one of the very few individuals in the early days of his company to buy the educational videos for my own self-study. (His customers at that time were mostly institutions like university psychology departments and psychotherapy training institutes in NYC and beyond.) And (2) Victor is a baseball fan. My last name stuck with him because it is an uncommon name that I happen to share with the former New York Mets home run hitter Dave Kingman (to whom I am not related, as far as I know).

Anyway, back to Irv Yalom. Quite simply, he is a true master. If you’re a therapist-in-training or just interested in therapy for your own healing and growth, I’d highly recommend reading Yalom’s NY Times article. And if that appetizer leaves you hungering for more of his humanism, warmth, and therapeutic intelligence, I’d recommend these masterful literary and academic works of his on psychotherapy and the human condition:

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