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Renik, O. (2001). The Patient's Experience of Therapeutic Benefit. Psychoanal Q., 70(1):231-241.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(1):231-241

The Patient's Experience of Therapeutic Benefit

Owen Renik, M.D.

Not too long ago, I ran into a friend of mine at a party. The successful CEO of a large company, he is extremely skeptical about psychotherapy; so it was with a kind of grudging amusement that he said he had a story to tell me that he thought I would enjoy hearing. He had just had the pleasure of hiring for a very well-paid position a man named Ralph, whom he had known fairly well at one time, but had not seen for ten years. My friend was astonished at how Ralph had changed. Ten years ago, Ralph would never have been able to handle significant managerial responsibility. He had always been bright, but terribly depressed and ineffective. His personal life was a mess—he seemed henpecked and miserable. But now, Ralph was obviously on top of things in a very nice way. No more wishy-washiness: he was straightforward and clear. Whereas Ralph used to be self-effacing to an infuriating degree, and would endlessly qualify everything he said, he now came across as appropriately thoughtful and modest, but confident. As they caught one another up on their personal lives, my friend noted that Ralph spoke about his wife with unmistakable pleasure and affection.

So impressed was my friend with this apparent transformation that he was moved to comment on it to Ralph and to ask how it had come about. I had a very good psychotherapy, was the answer. I found a shrink who helped me figure out the things I needed to know about myself. Thinking that he might like to refer somebody some time to a therapist who actually helped people, my friend asked the shrink's name and was surprised to learn that Ralph had been in treatment with me.

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