HOPress-Shorehouse Books is so proud to release under our Corner Office Label, the first work from Daniela V. Gitlin MD, Practice, Practice, Practice: This Psychiatrist’s Life. Available as paperback and in eBook format on Amazon and at select retail stores.
Patient ambushes! Clinician pratfalls! Community curveballs! Practice, Practice, Practice: This Psychiatrist’s Life gives you a fly-on-the-wall view of therapy sessions along with actual transcripts of what’s going through this therapist’s mind as she’s working, living and saving the day (or trying to). What else does this immersive memoir spanning twenty-five years of rural psychiatric practice expose? Flawless performance is not required for a therapist to be genuinely helpful.
Written with unsparing candor and a light touch, these interconnected clinical and personal tales reveal a way of thinking that is essential for learning actively, living fully, and doing good work— with a sense of wonder— year after year. Whether you’re simply curious, already in the field, or a mental health educator, you’re sure to get some ideas for what to do (or not do!) with the people in your life.
Daniela V. Gitlin, MD is a rural psychiatrist in private practice with her husband (also a psychiatrist) in upstate New York, north of the Adirondack Park. In addition to seeing patients, running the practice, empty nesting and staying married, she writes for the Psychotherapy Networker, blogs at danielagitlin.com, and has the next book under construction
Q & A with Daniela Gitlin:
Tell us about Daniela Gitlin:
The existential answer is impossible. Demographics, I can do. I’m female, an oldest child and a first generation American of European descent. I grew up in Nashville, worked my way through college in New York City, an English and art major, graduated, went back for pre-med coursework, and met my husband. We survived medical school and residency training (he’s also a shrink) and raised our son while being in rural private practice together for 25 years in upstate New York. We’re still married (38 years, thank you).
What inspired me to write this book?
I love my work, I love to write and I love reading about intelligent, competent protagonists struggling to do good work in the face of adversity. How will she deal? Prevail? Hey! It hit me— That’s me in session! I had found the way in. It’s not just patients who are vulnerable; shrinks are too. Getting things right is nice, of course. Inevitably, though, things go wrong in session. Those moments, if saved skillfully, grow both patient and therapist, get work done, and make great stories.
What do I want readers to take away from this book?
Flawless performance is not required of a clinician to be genuinely helpful. Embracing that makes every session an adventure.
The one writing lesson I have to share with other writers, I learned from Lynda Barry, cartoonist and creative. Write your first draft by hand and use a timer. The brain has two hemispheres. The right hemisphere creates anything with an arc (a beginning, middle and end). The left, where speech lives, only revises. It does not create. Ignore its screaming— Wrong! wrong wrong— to stop the flow and rewrite.
There’s something about handwriting with a deadline that allows the right hemisphere to override the left’s relentless naysaying and deliver. I write in 25-minute increments. If I’m on a roll, I reset the timer for another 25 minutes, and so on, until— ping! Done. (You’ll know. Don’t ask me how.) Ignore the overwhelming urge to immediately revise. Put the draft away. Review it a few days later. You’ll be amazed. I wrote 13 chapter first drafts in 13 days this way for the book. I’m telling you, it’s magic.
Has this book inspired me to write more?
Yes! The more you write, the more you write.
What was your biggest fear in writing this book?
My biggest fear writing this book was fear of not being up to the task. Variations included: it’d be boring; everything I had to say had already been said; it’d be dismissed because it wasn’t written in Shrinkese; who did I think I was? Name the fear, I felt it.
What am I most excited about now that it’s written?
As a clinician, there’s nothing more thrilling than catalyzing real change for the better in regular people’s lives, and reducing suffering. Given how much negative press and stigma about mental illness there is out there, I’m excited to share the view from my side of the couch, as a balance. I hope readers are entertained, enlightened and reassured. If readers are inspired to consider doing this work, even better. And if readers already in the field want to use this book to teach— well, that would be the best.