In this world of self-help, dysfunction, Dr. Phil and Oprah, there is a massive built-in readership for books about self-improvement and personal empowerment. Thomas A. Habib, a clinical psychologist, adds a new twist to this growing body of work with his book If These Walls Could Talk, a revealing look at twenty-five stories of real people seeking therapy and how their experiences can work for the reader’s benefit as well.
By using his own patients as examples, all of whom struggle with issues we can understand and relate to such as low self-esteem, relationship problems, co-dependency, unresolved childhood issues, emotional immaturity, lousy body image, lack of confidence, healthy vs. unhealthy fantasies, depression and sexual dysfunctions, Habib gives readers an inside look at how therapy works to help people help themselves…without having to pay the hefty hourly fees!
The author not only gives us insight into his clinical sessions but also offers solutions and exercises we can use to enhance and empower our own lives, should we happen to be having the same problems as these patients. His focus seems to be on relationship and marriage issues, but he also covers personal problems such as perfectionism, procrastination, lack of motivation, problems breaking free of parental expectations, and the old favorite – not knowing what you really want and therefore not having a clue how to get what you wish you had!
Also given extensive attention are issues involving raising healthy and functioning children, and the author covers the basics for giving our children strong and stable foundations with tips and techniques for building character and confidence, as well as teaching values.
I enjoyed the inside glimpses into what really goes on inside the therapist’s office, and the situations presented involved real people facing real issues that I could easily relate to. I also appreciated the author’s honesty as a therapist when he often admits that some people cannot be helped despite his best efforts. The ideas and exercises are usable and beneficial, and the good doctor writes with directness and truth, without beating us over the head Dr. Phil-style. That, I appreciated more than anything, as I am getting sick of the “get real, idiot” style of counseling that seems to be sweeping the nation. At least Dr. Habib admits he can’t save everyone!
If These Walls Could Talk might make you feel a bit like a voyeur at first, listening in on private sessions between patients and their trusted doctor, but before long you realize that this powerful tool for teaching is more about sharing experiences and solutions than it is about being a “looky-loo.” The problems these patients face are problems we all face, and the good doctor and author has given us the gift of his wisdom, insight and knowledge in a book that will cost us less than one third of one session on the couch. That, my friends, is a bargain.