Robert Firestone’s latest book, Overcoming the Destructive Inner Voice: True Stories of Therapy and Transformation, is a collection of stories that eloquently capture the transformative processes of psychotherapy. I interviewed Dr. Firestone about his current thinking and his motivation for writing this book.
Interview by Jina Carvalho
- What inspired you to write this book of short stories?
I have written these tales over a long period of time. Each one not only impressed me personally but I felt would inspire others. I have always enjoyed books about psychotherapy so when I acquired enough stories I wanted to contribute a book on the subject.
- These stories made me wonder about what led you to become a psychotherapist?
My father was a medical doctor and since I was a child I wanted to help people in some capacity. In college, I started out as a pre-med student but when I was exposed to psychology, I was totally fascinated. I always was searching for answers concerning the mystery of life and what motivated human behavior. Later I found the practice of psychotherapy most rewarding because it was a broad rather than a narrow focus and it utilized all of my resources, my knowledge, my emotions and my intuition. Besides it was most rewarding to be helpful to the people who sought my services.
- How would you characterize the therapeutic attitude or stance the clinician would ideally take or have toward their client?
In addition to training and experience, the ideal attitude of the therapist toward the client would best be described by the following adjectives: warm, compassionate, honest, direct, interested, inquisitive, non-judgmental, respectful and deeply feeling. There would be a sense of equality where both parties work to develop an understanding rather than an automatic application of the therapist’s predetermined theoretical orientation.
- In the last story about RD Laing and the divided self, you describe your brief friendship with Ronnie Laing. How did this friendship impact your life?
I met a friend, a person who thought as I did and had the same feeling for humanity. Although we grew up thousands of mile apart we thought and felt more alike than anyone else I knew. The experience of meeting him had a deep emotional impact. Without a direct conscious awareness, our meeting strengthened and supported my sense of self in the most basic sense.
- What would you like your readers to get from reading this book?
I would like my readers to get a feel for the very personal relationship between client and therapist, the struggles and the personal development of both parties. I would like them to appreciate the value of the psycho-therapeutic encounter and to realize its potential for personal growth. I would like them to develop a feeling of compassion for those who are suffering and for themselves as well. Lastly I would like them to be entertained and enjoy the stories in their own right.