By Ellen Braunstein, Special to Chicago Jewish News
Through a series of heartfelt letters from David Klow to his patients, a new book relates timeless and impactful information that normalizes life’s struggles and ends the stigma of therapy.
The 43-year-old licensed marriage and family therapist attempts to end psychological isolation through his just published book: “You Are Not Crazy: Letters from Your Therapist.” (The book is available on Amazon.)
The patients in his books are composites of his clients, he said, and the letters are written to speak directly to the reader. “The patients have in common that they live in psychological bubbles. They think they are the only ones who experience what they do. They do not realize that everyone around them is having quite similar experiences.”
Klow is the owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago and Skokie. He is also an instructor at Adler University and at the Family Institute at Northwestern University, where he got his master’s degree. He has been in practice for 13 years.
The book came about because Klow realized he was saying the same things to his patients again and again. “They were themes that most high functioning people face in their lives, relationship concerns, having strange thoughts, behaving in inconsistent ways. I found myself over and over telling people that what they are experiencing is normal.”
Klow felt he could reach more people by writing letters to his clients for the book. “I thought it would be an engaging perhaps effective way for others to start hearing the message that I was trying to bring to my clients.”
Klow’s goal, he said, is to normalize the process of therapy, “to end the stigma that there needs to be something wrong with us in order to seek help.”
The common themes of the letters address people who are really hard on themselves—“people beating themselves up. Life is pretty hard as it is, but if we are also beating ourselves up with self-talk, it’s all that much harder.”
Another theme is compassion “to deal with the parts of ourselves that are hurting, that are confused and overwhelmed, instead of pushing ourselves to try to nurture ourselves.”
The question of what is strength in this day and age resonates with people. “It’s possible to be tender and soft with ourselves but also be quite strong.”
The book’s 52-letter format also goes inside the mind of the therapist and the counseling process.
“I wanted to go under the hood a bit when it comes to what’s actually going on in the mind of the therapist. The patient might think that the therapist is judging them, analyzing them. I want people to understand that we’re rooting for them, that we have our own feelings, we have longings for our clients, we want to see them succeed.”
Klow has a cultural understanding of Jewish patients, who are not that different than anyone else. “We’re looking to have healthy relationships and make a difference in the world. The way we go about it is rooted in a religion, a culture.”
In sum, Klow hopes the book “will help people feel healthier and make a difference in the world.”