ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



March 2023



How to Do the Work by Dr Nicole LePera

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Two Stars

Best for:
People who are already working with a therapist, as that therapist can point out which parts of the book are useful and which are … super not.

In a nutshell:
Instagram influencer psychologist Dr LePera offers her suggestions on how to work through issues

Worth quoting:
I underlined a lot, but I don’t think there’s anything worth sharing.

Why I chose it:
There’s an area I’m working on in therapy and I asked my therapist for a book recommendation. She suggested this one. She and I are going to have a chat about it next session.

What it left me feeling:
Both motivated and suspicious

As I was reading this book, I had some reservations. Some parts were helpful in me understanding things, and some suggestions fall into the ‘couldn’t hurt’ category, but something about this book was rubbing me the wrong way. Was it because I just wasn’t ready to read some of the suggestions? Or was it because it felt a little … grifty? Honestly, I’m already going to side-eye anyone who promotes intermittent fasting, but no author and I are going to agree on everything. But there’s something about the tone of this book that feels very bootstrap-y. Like, a little bit like The Secret but for therapy? Dr LePera seems to push the notion that one can literally fix anything through some breath work and journaling.

She does pay lip service to privilege (though really as it relates to racism, and not seeming to see how people who are not disabled, or how people in other marginalized communities might face challenges) but overall the biggest take-away for me from her is that the individual is both responsible for and able to create their own future. Which, on the surface, sounds great … except it isn’t true? Like, some shit is beyond our control, and it seems weirdly un-evolved and unhealthy to ignore that. She talks about diseases that have a genetic component, sharing stories of for example a woman with MS who couldn’t walk but now can, I guess because she healed her inner child? I’m being glib, but I find that to be a dangerous outlook.

As I said, I had some reservations, but I did also find parts related to inner child work and parental relationships useful. If I’d written this review the second I put down the book, it probably would have been a solid 3, maybe 3.5 stars. She even has a new book coming out and is coming to my town to talk, and I signed up for tickets. Seemed like a sign!

Except, literally the next day, a good friend who is a therapist, and who had no idea I was reading this book, out of the blue raised how dangerous this woman is as an Instagram influencer. And I should have picked up this – she has a name for the people who are super into her work. Like, that’s just culty behavior. I appreciate and recognize the need for supports for people around mental health, especially as one on one therapy is expensive and not even available to many people, but the way she presents her information on Instagram really raises some questions about the ethics of this type of work in the way she does it.

Now, is that a reasonable thing to include in a book review? I think so. One can’t separate the ‘art’ from the ‘artist’ when the artist is still possibly causing harm, so I think anyone who is considering picking up this book should do more research than I did into the author.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it (for the bits mentioned above that were relevant)

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