Covid-19, like other kinds of trauma, could be a chance to reflect and reconsiderby Kate Womersley / May 5, 2020 / Leave a comment
The self-help genre is overwhelmed with quick fixes. This Too Shall Pass points in another direction: whether change is thrust upon us, as in the current Covid-19 crisis, or whether we choose to shift a fundamental part of our lives, change is often only partly under our control. It is also more time consuming, more challenging and more enriching than we might imagine.
Julia Samuel, a psychotherapist with three decades of experience and the author of Grief Works, expertly builds trust with her audience. Case studies from Samuel’s practice, told in elegant prose, are arranged around five themes: family, love, work, health and identity.
We meet a new mother contemplating her return to work, a young man struggling after coming out, a woman in her fifties dealing with a husband and two lovers, a single father who feels lost after cancer treatment. Particular stories will resonate depending on a reader’s stage in life, but all generations will benefit from the clarity and seriousness Samuel brings to issues of gender and sexuality.
Not all these cases are neatly resolved, and neither is therapy portrayed as straightforwardly curative. Samuel draws on her own experience as well. She is honest about her own weaknesses such as feelings of confusion, projection, anger and competition with her clients.
Samuel successfully summarises schools of psychological thought, while her voice remains confidently distinct from them. The flaws are few, though they include occasional clichés, like “men are doers… women are talkers.”
Her conclusion suggests eight “pillars of strength” to help us implement the wisdom gleaned from these cases. At a time when the outside world has constricted, and many of us have been forced to turn inwards, This Too Shall Pass is a consoling companion.
This Too Shall Pass: Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings by Julia Samuel (Penguin Life, £14.99)