When Hurt Remains

Edited by Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar and Rachel Shalit

Reviewed by Nancy Eichhorn

I feel strange reviewing a book I contributed to. A strong sense of impropriety gurgles in my gut as if I’m shamelessly promoting myself though, in fact, I make no profit from book sales of any sort. And still, despite an authoritative voice that says, “Let someone else write about this book,” I am drawn to share at least an overview of the stories others wrote about their experiences with therapeutic failure.

It’s not an easy topic to approach. I learned from Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar (see his reflection on page 58) that his first attempt to gather submissions was, well, he was rather ignored. The second time, perhaps the stars were more aligned or therapists felt safer revealing vulnerable moments in their clinical day, or perhaps they were more willing to share what didn’t go quite as planned (though I wonder how in fact we can preplan the outcome of a client session when it’s constantly co-created, moment-by-moment as each minute flows by). Regardless, I felt honored to be invited to contribute and humbled by my deeper feelings of guilt and shame as I recalled a professionally and a life changing incident, which at the end of a lengthy self-reflective process I did opt to share.

When Hurt Remains: Relational Perspectives on Therapeutic Failure, edited by Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar and Rachel Shalit, with a foreward by Andrew Samuels, offers personal stories about professional moments of failure. Fifteen psychotherapists define failure from their own perspective and courageously revisit client cases, some that occurred many years ago, to share intimate and revealing vignettes where the therapeutic bond was disrupted, where they were deeply wounded, and for some those wounds changed the course of their career. For all, these wounds remain as a tear in the fabric of their being. The book is actually entitled, When Hurt Remains, because the stories were so painfully “carved into” the contributors’ being they significantly impacted them (xxv).

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