Psychotherapy and Personal Change : Two Minds in a Mirror book cover
1st Edition

Psychotherapy and Personal Change
Two Minds in a Mirror

ISBN 9780367622022
Published December 24, 2020 by Routledge
182 Pages

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Book Description

Psychotherapy and Personal Change: Two Minds in a Mirror offers unique day-to-day accounts of patients undergoing psychotherapy and what happens during "talk therapy" to startle the complacent, conscious mind and expose the unconscious. It is a candid, moment-by-moment revelation of how the therapist’s own memories, feelings, and doubts are often as much a factor in the process as those of the patient.

In the process of healing, both the therapist and the patient reflect on each other and on themselves. As the therapist develops empathy for the patient, and the patient develops trust in the therapist, their shared memories, feelings, and associations interact and entwine – almost kaleidoscopically – causing each to ask questions of the other and themselves. In this book, Dr. Friedberg reveals personal insights that arose as he recalled memories to share with patients. These insights might not have arisen but for the therapy, which operates in multiple directions as patient and therapist explore the present, the past, and the unknown. Readers will see the therapist – like the patient – as a complex, vulnerable human being influenced by parents, colleagues, and friends, whose conscious and unconscious minds ramify through each other. It is a truism of psychotherapy that in order to commit to the process, whatever the reservations or misconceptions, one must understand that therapy is not passive. The patient must expect to become personally involved with the therapist. The patient learns about the therapist even as the therapist helps the patient to gain insight into him- or herself. Psychotherapy and Personal Change shows how this exchange develops and how each actor is affected.

Through specific examples, the book raises the reader’s understanding of what to expect from psychotherapy and enhances his/her insight into therapy that he or she may have had already.

Table of Contents

1. Talking and Listening  2. Trust  3. Time and Money  4. Empathy and Relationships  5. The Present Past  6. Insight and Understanding  7. Truth and Doubt  8. Love and Healing  9. Reflections

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Ahron Friedberg, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, New York, and served twice as President of the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians. He is Editor of American Academy of Psychodynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis Forum, Book Editor of Psychodynamic Psychiatry, and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.

Sandra Sherman, J.D., Ph.D., was a Senior Attorney in the U.S. government and Professor of English at two major universities. She is the author of four books and over 60 peer-reviewed articles on 18th-century literature and culture and has co-authored several books on neuroscience. She currently works with scientists and physicians to support their research and writing.


"Every patient in psychotherapy wonders, what is my therapist thinking? In this book Ahron Friedberg, an experienced therapist, shares his thoughts and feelings that arise during psychotherapy sessions with his patients. This is an unusual book. It is not about case histories, nor psychopathology, nor the process of psychotherapy per se, although each of these is discussed. Its focus is on the therapist’s mind; his thoughts about his patients and their problems; but also about himself, his career, and his life. Friedberg, true to his profession, always tries to understand what these thoughts mean, and how he might use that to help his patients."

Robert Michels, M.D. Walsh McDermott University Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, Cornell University


"Psychotherapy and Personal Change: Two Minds in a Mirror is a seasoned psychotherapist’s gift to the reader, eloquently detailing his own and his patients’ inner experience. It expresses our humanity with clarity and courage. For comparison, master clinician-writers such as Irvin Yalom, Erik Erikson and Donald Winnicott come to mind. Two Minds is a guide not only for patient and therapist but for us all on our common journey."

Nathan Szajnberg, M.D. – formerly Freud Professor, Hebrew University


"I found Psychotherapy and Personal Change: Two Minds in a Mirror deeply enlightening. As someone who has been in psychodynamic therapy for decades, I of course always wonder what it’s like from the other side—and now I know. Dr. Friedberg illuminates the analytic process with his usual gentle wisdom."

Andrew Solomon, M.D. – Professor of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University


"I was riveted by two features of Psychotherapy and Personal Change: Two Minds in a Mirror –  the unflinching candor that Dr. Friedberg turns on himself, and the precise, elegant writing that makes his revelations memorable. I reread some stories a few times, just to dwell in their clearly rendered depths. I never knew that the psyche could be presented so engagingly outside of a novel."

Donald W. Pfaff, Ph.D.   Professor Emeritus and Head of Laboratory, Neurobiology and Behavior, The Rockefeller University