Review of Experiential Psychotherapy: A Symphony of Selves by Richard Felder and Avrum Weiss

Review of Experiential Psychotherapy: A Symphony of Selves by Richard E. Felder and Avrun Geurin Weiss, University Press of America, 1991, 164 pages.  Originally published in Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy, Spring 2001.

Up to this point in my professional life it is clear that the most important book I had ever read was The Roots of Psychotherapy by Whitaker and Malone.  If Experiential Psychotherapy: A Symphony of Selves were a movie, I would call it "Roots II."  It revisits some of the same ideas that had originally thrilled and inspired me, weaves in some new material, and gives me a whole new and fresh sense of excitement to this way of doing my work and living my life.

I was initially very dubious about the possibility that this book could be worth its price--$22.50 for a paperback seemed outrageous, especially one with only 164 pages.  I began reading with the question of whether I was going to get my money's worth floating in the back of my mind.  In fact, the question was close enough to the front of my mind that I was aware of the point at which I felt like I had broken even.  It was about half-way through page 5.  I regard the other 159 pages as a wonderful free bonus.

In the acknowledgement section Dick Felder refers to his colleagues over the past 35 years at the Atlanta Psychiatric Clinic as co-authors of this book.  This invokes for me images of people such as Whitaker, Malone and Warkentin.  It also reminds me of the grief I felt after reading Memories, Dreams and Reflections--grief in response to the fact that this incredible man, Carl Jung, had died before I got the chance to meet him and spend time with him.  The good news is that some of the "co-authors" of Experiential Psychotherapy: A Symphony of Selves are still walking the face of the earth.  What's more, they are mentoring people like Avrum Weiss, so that the torch will be carried not only in the pages of books like this one, but in the flesh.  

If experiential psychotherapy is new to you, the enthusiasm of this review may seem a bit odd or excessive.  If that is your situation, I have a recommendation and a guarantee for you.  The recommendation is this: Buy the book and read it.  If it doesn't seem to jibe with the review, put it under your pillow and sleep with it there, occasionally glancing at it before you go to sleep.  Then when find yourself wide awake between 2am and 4am one morning, for no apparent reason, get up and read the book again.  Do that for a year, and if you still don't get it (here's the guarantee), I'll buy the book back from you.