Irvin Yalom in Session: Eugenia
by Irvin Yalom
Watch Irvin Yalom work with Eugenia, a 23-year-old struggling with a sudden crippling existential panic, over the course of 9 deeply moving sessions.

Part of the 4-video series: Irvin Yalom and the Art of Psychotherapy
Meet Eugenia: A bright, articulate, optimistic and seemingly happy 23-year-old who one day, while ambling through the streets of New York, is beset by an existential loneliness and awareness of death that haunts her from that day forward. Struck hard by an unexpected and seemingly inexplicable case of “existential angst,” she arrives to therapy with complaints of anxiety and a sense of insignificance that are making it hard to get through her day-to-day life. “I feel like I've realized something that cannot be unrealized…. and I just see no point,” she reveals to Yalom.

Through excerpts of the 9-session course of therapy, we see Yalom struggle to understand this “sudden onset” of death anxiety, particularly since in the early sessions Eugenia claims to have had a perfectly happy childhood and to never have really struggled much until her trip to New York. With warmth and candor—and detailed, behind-the-scenes commentary describing his thinking and interventions—we see Yalom slowly unravel the mystery of Eugenia’s problem, and the repressed pain that led her to see him. We see Yalom utterly bewildered by her seeming contradictions, unsure of how to help her, and then watch him utilize his own vulnerability to elicit hers. Along the journey, we learn how to work in the here-and-now, how to incorporate Yalom’s existential approach into therapy with clients, and ultimately how to take risks with our clients in service of their growth.

You do not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime inside peek at one of the greatest masters of psychotherapy doing his trade.

Save on the complete 4-video series!

What therapists are saying…

"It is a privilege and honor to see Irvin Yalom practice what he has written so deeply about. New and experienced psychotherapists will benefit from Yalom’s reflections, and from his humble authenticity in psychotherapy. This video would be an excellent addition to a professional ethics course, a theories course, or any psychotherapy skills course."

-- Veronica I. Johnson, EdD, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Counselor Education, University of Montana
"Dr. Yalom presents a masterful demonstration of the existential framework in an authentic, relational way. It is very rare to find counseling training videos that illustrate not only the content skills (attending, listening, paraphrasing…) of forming a therapeutic relationship, but also the process of developing the therapeutic alliance between counselor and client. Dr. Yalom reminds us as practitioners that our focus is our clients, as unique individuals, and that our role is to help them to bring meaning to their life experiences; to join their journey through therapy."

-- Brenda S. Hall, PhD, Professor of Counselor Education, North Dakota State University
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In some ways it’s reassuring to see a renowned therapist, with 60 years of experience under his belt, struggle to gain a foothold in his work with Eugenia—reassuring to realize that in this age of “manualized” and “evidence-based” treatment, veterans like Yalom defy these trends, and approach their therapy with each client as a unique journey, and can easily be confused and challenged along the way. It’s refreshing to see his candor with his struggles, both in session with his client, and in the commentary he shares with viewers.

And it’s also reassuring to see that despite this, he manages to find his way—or at least some way—to help her begin to make sense of her seemingly out-of-the-blue existential panic. All therapists have clients who present with initial symptoms that make sense—such as feelings of depression or anxiety after a breakup or job loss—and other clients who present with symptoms that have no obvious precipitating stressor. Eugenia, like the other clients in this series, Luke and Gareth, are real clients with real-life concerns that don’t fit neatly into the DSM or treatment manuals; seeing Yalom thinking on his feet, trying one thing and then another, is what makes these videos so valuable for any therapist wanting to advance their clinical skills and understanding.

Length of video: 2:12:27

Number of Discs: 1

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in All Regions

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-540-8

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-540-3

Psychiatrist and author Irvin Yalom, MD has been a major figure in the field of psychotherapy since he first wrote The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy in 1970 (now in it's 5th edition). Other significant contributions have included Existential Psychotherapy, and NY Times Bestseller Loves Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy. He has written four novels on psychotherapy: When Nietzsche Wept, Lying on the Couch, The Schopenhauer Cure, and The Spinoza Problem.  His works, translated into over 20 languages, have been widely read by therapists and non-therapists alike. Visit Dr. Yalom's website.


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CE credits: 2

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to apply an existential lens to psychotherapy.
  • Illustrate the importance of doing a "death history" with certain clients.
  • Understand how to work with clients who struggle to acknowledge sadness and negativity in their upbringing.
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