Books to be better people: Lindy West’s “Shrill”

This year, I’ve decided to add an occasional “Books to be better people” segment to my blog. As in, books that have made me better, that you should also read because there’s a good chance they might make you better, too.  I am always reading something therapy or self-improvement related, and if and when I come across something really fantastic, I like to pass it along.

And so, to begin: I recommended Shrill by Lindy West to my clients more than any other book this year. In fact, chances are, if you worked with me in 2018, I recommended this book to you. So it makes sense that Shrill is my first choice.

If you’re familiar with her work in The Guardian, or have heard her interviewed (my favorite is the spot she did on This American Life), you are aware that Ms. West is direct, unapologetic, and hilarious in her delivery of pearls of wisdom via her (sometimes harrowing) life stories. Her book covers some incredibly difficult topics (like abortion, rape culture, and fatphobia) with ease, intelligence, bravery, and ferocity.

As a therapist, I love her because she embodies what it means to truly accept oneself, and to assert the notion that an individual alone has the right to choose how much room they take up (physically, emotionally, socially, etc.) at any given time. She spreads her thoughts and opinions out as widely and loudly as she pleases, and is brilliantly able to quantify her choices whenever she is challenged.

What I love most about her stories (besides that they make me literally laugh out loud) is the evidence of her courageous decision to consistently choose herself – as she is at any moment – and dismiss common conceptions that she should be or look or act any differently. She encourages her audience to ask “Who says so?” about areas in their lives in which they are feeling pressure to live up to some fabricated ideal. From a therapeutic standpoint, this makes Shrill one of the best (non-self-help) self-help books I’ve read to date.

Most importantly, West is able to convey through her writing that how we treat ourselves matters. The choices we make about how we love and nurture ourselves (or not) have implications not only for us, but for others as well. When we carry shame and insecurity around who we are, we leave the door open for others to be shamed and rejected. Shrill effortlessly connects concepts of self-love with social justice, which infuses significant purpose to the notion of living out loud.

If you are looking to start off 2019 with inspiration, humor, and confidence, read this book. If you’ve already read it, read it again. Read it, love it, share it with everybody.

You can buy Shrill on Amazon here.


Useful Information

Some frequently asked questions and useful answers.

Online therapy works in the same way as in-office therapy, but is done online, similar to a Skype or FaceTime conversation. Clients are able to have sessions from home, work, or any other convenient location. We meet with clients using a HIPAA-compliant secure platform.

Online therapy allows you to work with us from the comfort of home, or any private location of your choosing. For some, the screen provides an added layer of comfort that makes the challenging work of being vulnerable in therapy a little easier.

Online therapy also creates the unique opportunity for you to work with us without the constraints of proximity! The practice was born in Keene, New Hampshire, but has since grown to service clients anywhere in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Online therapy is a great option for clients that travel for work, for college students that go home during the summertime and do not want a break in their sessions, and for anyone with a challenging or inconsistent day-to-day schedule. It is an excellent choice for clients seeking a therapist with a particular specialty that they are unable to find support for locally. Some of our clients report that online therapy makes the vulnerability element of therapy a bit less intimidating.

No. For some clients with more complex symptoms or safety concerns, having a local therapist that is readily available is important in case of crisis or the need for a higher level of care. Online therapy is also a challenge for clients that do not have access to a private, quiet space to be “in session” for the hour, or for those that do not have adequate internet connectivity.

There are several reasons why we don’t accept insurance. The most important are:

Confidentiality. Insurance companies require that your information be shared with them in order to pay for services. We prefer that clients’ information is kept as confidential as possible.

The pressure to diagnose. Insurance companies require that clients are given a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for therapy. We have found that many clients benefit from therapy, but do not meet criteria for a diagnosis. Not using insurance allows clients to access therapy without being given a mental health diagnosis.

Flexibility and freedom. Insurance companies dictate the length and number of sessions they will authorize, as well as when a client is no longer eligible for the benefits of therapy. Because we do not work with insurance panels, you and we can collaborate to determine your individual needs regarding session length, frequency of sessions, and when to terminate therapy.

While we do not accept insurance, many clients choose to submit receipts to their insurance companies to receive reimbursement via out-of-network benefits. We are happy to provide these receipts for you! Please check with your insurance company for details on your benefits.



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