Take a seat on the couch

Author/psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb to headline virtual Lion Luncheon Oct. 15    

LoriGottliebLion image

When Lori Gottlieb's bestselling book on psychotherapy-- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone- -came out last year, she never could have predicted that a global pandemic would strike a year later. Now, the entire human population, it seems, could use a therapist to help us through these unsettling times. Gottlieb, a Jewish writer and psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, will headline the virtual JUF Women's Division 2021 Lion Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 15.  

In her book--equal parts self-help and memoir--she invites readers to take a seat on the therapy couch alongside four of her clients, as well as in Gottlieb's sessions with her own therapist.

A former film and TV executive for shows like Friends and ER , Gottlieb switched professional paths when she discovered that as much as she enjoys crafting fictional dramas, she loves helping people work through their real-life dramas even more. 

She is also a contributing editor and weekly "Dear Therapist" columnist for The Atlantic . Her book is currently being adapted into a TV series starring Eva Longoria. I caught up with Gottlieb on a break from filming the show.   

Q. Why did you write the book? 

A. We can learn so much about ourselves through the lens of other people's stories. A lot of us feel very alone in our struggles, so I wanted to bring people into the therapy room to get people to see what I get to see. 

The title of the book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone isn't just a nod toward 'maybe you should see a therapist,' but it also means that maybe we should talk more to one another

What is the most common thread you see in your clients?  

Disconnection. There are so many people who are married to the person that they want to be married to, and they have family and friends--but they're not really connecting. People are ships passing in the night. A lot of couples are co-computing at night, on their devices, and even their children are running around to a million different things.…We're not being nourished by the people who we really want to connect with. 

How does COVID make your book more relevant to people's lives now? 

I'm getting so much mail from readers now saying the book is the balm they needed because it addresses so many of the themes that people are experiencing: loss, grief, mortality, and connection. These themes permeate the stories in the book.

Do you have advice for people in coping with the pandemic?  

What people often do is push down those feelings and say, 'Well I don't have COVID or I have a roof over my head, and I didn't lose my job.' Instead of making the feelings go away, they come out in other ways: in insomnia, in short-temperedness, or in too much food or wine…. It doesn't really address this issue--it just makes it worse. I really would encourage people to use their feelings as a guide to start to take care of their psychological immune system. 

There is a point in the book where you ask your therapist what he thinks of you and he said you have a good 'neshama'--Hebrew for 'soul' or 'essence.' Why did you include that anecdote? 

It's a question we all have-what does my therapist really think about me since I'm coming in here and being so vulnerable? And what he said is, 'I [like you], but not for the reasons I think you want. You want me to think you're smart or funny or interesting.' Rather, he says, 'I like your neshama.' When we talk about appreciating other people, can we see their essence? The concept of neshama is so powerful as we redefine what it means to love and be loved. 

Why did you decide to reveal so much about yourself and your own therapy? 

I write in the book that my most significant credential [as a therapist] is that I'm a card-carrying member of the human race. One of the things I really wanted to do is break down the barrier between being the 'expert,' and just being a person in the world. I use my humanity in the therapy room all the time…I use the fact that I know what it's like to struggle-to help other people with their struggles. 

What you need to know… 

Women who make an individual gift of $5,000 or more to the 2021 JUF Annual Campaign are invited to attend the 2021 Lion Luncheon. The cost of the event is $36 or $72 with lunch. (For the lunch option, a kosher lunch will be delivered to your home in the Chicagoland area.) To inspire future generations and to ensure the continuity of our tradition of tzedakah , guests are encouraged to invite their daughters, daughters-in-law, and/or granddaughters to this event.  

To register for the Lion Luncheon on Oct. 15, and to sign up for a one-time, optional virtual discussion of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone on Oct. 7, visit juf.org/2021LionLuncheon or call Vivienne Henning at (312) 357-4823.  


" I write in the book that my most significant credential [as a therapist] is that I'm a card-carrying member of the human race. One of the things I really wanted to do is break down the barrier between being the 'expert,' and just being a person in the world. "

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