Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Therapists as Writers: Interview with Lori Gottlieb

[Episode 124] Today's episode of the Social Work Podcast is an interview with Lori Gottlieb - NY Times best-selling author, advice columnist for The Atlantic, and therapist. We talked about how her experience as a writer influences her work as a therapist, and how her therapy informs her writing. We talked about how she takes a client’s story out of the therapy room and turns it into something that therapists can appreciate, and non-therapists can get excited about. Lori reads from her 2019 bestseller, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. We ended our conversation talking about how difficult and necessary it is for therapists to be the client.



Download MP3 [41:04]


Transcript

Introduction

Hey there podcast listeners, Jonathan here. Have you ever had this experience? A friend who is not a social worker tells you about scene in a movie, or story in a book that they find completely shocking. And you, instead of being shocked, just think to yourself, “that’s nothing compared to the client I just saw.” I remember working with a family early on in my first job out of grad school. It was a big family. The oldest daughter had shot and killed the father after years of abuse. The courts not only acquitted her, but they said the family was eligible to use victim’s compensation fund to pay for therapy. Then there was the 13-year old honor student who fried her brain on whippets. There was the family who lived in a compound at the edge of the city; a dozen double wide trailers and four generations on several acres of land. They made money by running an illegal trash dump on their land and selling scraps. There was the mom who blurted out in session that her son’s father was his grandfather. The mom who left her husband after starting an affair with her step-brother. It is sort of an open secret among social workers that if Hollywood ever tried to make a movie about what we actually see in therapy, no one would believe it. The truth would be dismissed as “Hollywood fantasy.” Meanwhile, Hollywood’s version of what social workers do and what therapy is usually comes off as fiction rather than fact.

This disconnect between what I did and Hollywood’s version of what I did was in large part because the shocking tabloid headlines weren’t the most important or interesting parts. It was the little moments. Like the moment that the victims comp family said that they missed their dad because he was the only one that could keep the family in line. It was sitting with the 13-year old’s mother as she was stroking her daughter’s hair. It was the abuela who insisted that I stay for dinner on my last visit to the compound. These were the moments that Hollywood usually got wrong. I don’t really blame Hollywood. How would they know? Social workers, psychologists, and counselors promise not to talk about our clients. We intentionally do not share these moments.

And yet, I know lots of mental health professionals would love to write about their experiences. So, how do you do that? Well, in today’s episode I spoke with Lori Gottlieb - NY Times best-selling author, advice columnist for The Atlantic, and therapist about how she turned her client’s stories into a bestselling book that has been optioned by Eva Longoria. We talked about how her experience as a writer influences her work as a therapist, and how her therapy informs her writing. We talked about how she takes a client’s story out of the therapy room and turns it into something that therapists can appreciate, and non-therapists can get excited about. Lori reads from her 2019 bestseller, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. We ended our conversation talking about how difficult and necessary it is for therapists to be the client.

A note about today’s episode: I recorded this interview in April 2019 while Lori was on a multi-city book tour promoting Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. She was kind enough to come to my office at Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work. You might hear an occasional car horn but nothing that should distract from the interview.

If you listen to the Podcast on iTunes I would be grateful if you left a rating and comment. If you want to participate in our ongoing survey, please click on the link at the top right side of the website where you’ll also find a transcript of today’s interview, links to Lori’s books, and lots more. Speaking of transcripts – if you would like to donate your time to transcribe this or any other episode that doesn’t have a transcript, please contact me at https://www.facebook.com/swpodcast.

And now, without further ado, on to episode 124 of the social work podcast: Therapists as Writers: Interview with Lori Gottlieb

Interview
[forthcoming]


APA (6th ed) citation for this podcast:

Singer, J. B. (Producer). (2019, April 23). #124 - Therapists as writers: Interview with Lori Gottlieb [Audio Podcast]. Social Work Podcast. Retrieved from http://www.socialworkpodcast.com/2019/04/gottlieb.html

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