With a rewarding, 46-year career that started with helping troubled boys in a Brooklyn ghetto and led to his current private practice in New York City, clinical social work psychotherapist Richard Joelson has done an admirable job of compiling his patient-inspired essays into Help Me! A Psychotherapist’s Tried-and-True Techniques for a Happier Relationship with Yourself and the People You Love.
Organized into four sections—“Being,” “Living,” “Loving” and “Thriving”—Help Me! spans dozens of topics—from resilience and forgiveness to learning to say “no” to worry— that illustrate the importance of maintaining a healthy perspective in the face of life’s inevitable challenges. In a chapter titled “Complaining,” for example, the author compares two patients—one with cancer who maintained a grateful attitude throughout her ordeal, the other a healthy woman who fussed about every minor disappointment—and offers this insight: “It appears that complaining, for many, is a communication made in the hope that someone will recognize their suffering.” For some, he says, validation from others will never be enough.
Joelson peppers his compilation with universal truths: “People work toward change differently when they believe that change can actually occur”; “Active and attentive silence may, at times, be far more helpful than anything you can say or do to help another”; and so on.
Well-written, with a colorful, eye-catching cover and impeccable editing, this can be quickly read from cover to cover or by skipping ahead to a subject that resonates. The up side of Help Me! is that the chapters are really short. The down side is that the chapters are really short, most no more than two or three pages, which might leave some hungry for more dialogue, storytelling, and direction on how to make the mental shifts suggested.
While Joelson’s insights are far from groundbreaking, they serve as solid, common-sense reminders that we are all capable of making changes, large or small, in order to lead happier, healthier lives.
Also available in hardcover.