Telling men to open up is not enough – teach them how

Unthinkable: We can all learn from psychotherapy, perhaps the best place to start is school

Clinical psychologist and author Frank Tallis believes there are some practical therapy tools people could learn from a young age

Clinical psychologist and author Frank Tallis believes there are some practical therapy tools people could learn from a young age

Starting a sentence with “I” is discouraged at school, it’s frowned upon in journalism and, when followed by an expression of feeling, it’s traditionally problematic for men. I am making amends today, however, having learnt from psychotherapy how avoidance of the first-person singular can be used to interpose distance between ourselves and our troubled reality.

I should say I have been learning psychotherapy one step removed, thanks to a delightful new book, The Act of Living, by clinical psychologist and novelist Frank Tallis. Psychotherapy differs from philosophy or spirituality, he tells me, because “the whole of this tradition stands or falls according to the willingness of individuals to actually put it into practice. You only really get a feel of how useful it is if you say, ‘Okay, I’m going to try this for a week...’ I don’t think an intellectual understanding of it is very useful.”

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