"You're the most effective therapist I've had, out of the 14 therapists I've had in my life. You finally changed me.
I hate the trope of the therapist who validates every last thing I say, who understands everything, and who listens incessantly.
You were refreshingly the opposite. Sure you listen and understand, often at a greater depth than the rest. But, you give real insights, advice, encouragement, work and challenges. You actually give assignments and hold me to them. You're just not like any other therapist I've had in the last 15 years.
--Honus, 22 years-old, in therapy since he was 7
Name: Kyra G.
Email Address: email@example.com
Subject: Thank You
Message: Dear Sven,
I am so grateful to have found you at a turning point in my life - at a point in a history that has been death by a thousand cuts (as you call it), when I feel close to the thousandth one. And yet...each one alone isn't enough to force action.
I've struggled with issues of self-doubt and self-harm for decades, quite literally. Therapy? Well, that was like help over a thousand weeks. My life felt like a progressive stalemate - slow and small victories, but never enough to shift the balance or set me free.
So, broken as I was, I was apprehensive about our first virtual meeting over Skype; six hours of promised intensity! Could I hold up to it? (And, frankly, would it be worth the substantial investment!?)
Well...what a gift and a surprise that time was. I realized about 15 minutes in that I was totally at ease with you - the most empathetic badass I've met, for sure. That six hours was a walk through the dangerous terrain of my past - you pushed me to go there, but it was like having someone along who knew the route through, based on his own experiences, dedicated study, and a lot of work before we even met to understand how to pace the journey with my ability to keep up.
Your process forces accountability on the part of the client - there is nothing passive about it. I am convinced that this, along with your gift for empathy and long years of spiritual study and reflection, is a fundamental part of what makes your approach uniquely powerful - and fast! Writing the autobiography and doing your other "homework" was so critical. And what I would tell anyone considering seeking your help is that you put in at least as much work as your client. For everything I put out, some of it very raw and personal, you gave back so many insights, and valuable tools and references.
I am still on my journey and have yet to do the really big and painful things I must do to achieve peace and happiness. But I now know what that will entail and how to go about it. And I know that, though it's up to me, there is someone I can consult should I take a wrong turn on the road. And I can honestly say that. after just two sessions with you, that I have a healthier sense of self than...I've probably ever had!
"Hi Sven I want you to know that your words made a very positive impact on my decision to leave a job of 20 years and start something new at this point in my life. Your posts about doing things that terrify you to get anywhere in life really touched me because I had been miserable in my job for the past two years but I was very very comfortable. So thank you for the inspiration you really helped a lot with this. I found the scariest part in this whole adventure was actually leaving my job. Interviews and applying for jobs that was a lot of fun." -- Desiree, 49, Minneapolis, 2016
From Craig, 33, Australia, 2016: "Those who know me will know I got a guy for most things, this is my head guy. As a business owner you're faced with many challenges and in order to succeed you need to really believe. Often you stop believing out of fear , and if there is one person who can deconstruct that fear , it's Sven - reach out and thank me later. He's awesome."
"Sven -- You saved my life and you forever changed the quality of my life. Words will never be enough to thank you -- nor anything else. I'm so grateful! Your forever friend, Sherryl."
-- Sherryl, 48, after a 3-day intensive counseling weekend in San Francisco
I was literally walking by your office and thought I'd pop in to give you a super quick checkin.
Today is only the 2 week anniversary of our meeting, and its been a wild ride since.
You kept saying that a huge amount of energy was about to be released in my life, and its been a GEYSER!!!
In 12 days I've quickly become a leading member of the volunteer effort in NY for [a major contender for President]. I've redesigned and rewritten the entire digital platform for the campaign and led a handful of events training -- yes, training -- all other volunteers. I've also brought in several new clients for my business, been on three dates with beautiful and interesting women, and am waking every day THREE HOURS on the dime before my former wake-up time, and rocked out my client work in record time everyday.
And it's just continuing! Geyser, dude! GEYSER!!!!
What I love most is ALL TALENTS AT FULL SPEED, MY BIG WINGS FLAPPING; no more clipped wings, no more fear-driven life!
You're KILLER, man!!
"I want to thank you for helping me getting to where I am today. You opened my eyes on how to handle relationships. Once I was footloose and fancy free. Now I am able to meet and grow with [my husband]. Thank you for your support, guidance and love." -- Laina, 33, Elementary School Principal
"14 therapists in 13 years. First therapist at age 9, as you know. One six-hour session with you and I haven't had any dips of depression since. This is just remarkable! You're the first one that cut through the crap. Remarkable!" -- Ben, 22, Portland, OR
"Sven spoke at our event.
I can honestly say I have never in my life
heard a more energized speaker
with a more challenging and inspiring message!"
--- Susan, corporate lawyer, 63, California
"Really appreciate your email. Lost 1-0. Our best striker got a concussion in the first round game and that really hurt us today, plus the other team is quite good. All in all another solid season for our program, made it into the second round of NCAA national playoffs. Again, you helped me turn the corner in my career 5 years ago when you challenged me to look at mys asdgaG elf, my underlying motives, fears, etc. -- that's made a huge difference. Our winning percentage has shot up big-time, since, and we win the conference almost every year and go to nationals. Thanks, man!" --Tony, 43, NCAA Soccer Coach, 2016
"Glad I found your articles! Your last one really speaks to me, because I'm a Minnesota girl who also was afraid to leave for various reasons after HS and college. But now, my divorce is the death that is now giving rebirth to my dreams I was afraid to chase as a young woman. Thank you for what you write!" -- Doreen B., 47
Better late than never but I wanted to follow up on our quick chat in front of my building a week or so ago. Regarding my family, back home, I mentioned a quote that you had on Facebook several weeks ago and I couldn't recall it when I saw you. Here it is though and again: I think it's pretty spot on!
<!-- As my clients always hear me say, "Change will not occur until the pain gets bad enough." And that's when the magic really starts to happen; life patterns get broken; new avenues get taken.
But, sadly, far too many of us run from the pain and discomfort, or medicate ourselves or numb ourselves with all manner of maladaptive behaviors. It's only when we have the courage to lean into the pain and discomfort and allow ourselves to finally feel it, and let it wash over us, that life begins to crack open and amazing things happen!!
Thanks so much for all you have done in my life!
--Stefan, 32, Germany
"Sven, there are only two people in this world I trust
with my full story, my life, and the depth of my problems:
You and an old man who was my adviser in graduate school.
You understand me in ways no one else does.
There is no one I trust more with my life than you. Period."
-- C.C., 42, psychologist, Minnesota
Subject: Your writing
Hey Sven! I find your advice refreshing in it's throwing up unsettling truths! The typical relationship advisers hide behind comforting words and other bullshit approaches. You are so spot-on... all the time!
-- Tim, 60, pastor, Boston
Hi Sven, Syrene from South-Africa. I am busy reading your book: I Steal Wives: A serial Adulterer Reveals. All I can say from my heart is: Thank you. S.
Ps. Sven, it would be nice if you had courses running for people who would like to become therapists/counsellors. I am in the arts, and am going to implement art therapy with a philosophical underpinning based on expressive art, this includes a lot of digging deeper, which you are SO good at. I love your straight forward theories, and practical advice. I know for a fact that if I can incorporate your methods to my work I will get to the heart of pain through Svens Questions much better. Please stay in touch, and thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!
-- Syrene, 35, South Africa
"Thanks, man. I don't feel like such a loser, anymore,
no matter how shitty my life is. And I've stopped drinkin',
because of you."
-- Rich, 49, homeless man, recovering addict, California
"You're amazing, Sven! You have completely changed how I coach, how I treat my team, and how I think. That is no exaggeration. You and I completely eviscerated the problems and you brought so much clear-thinking. I cannot even convey the impact you have had on our team, my assistant coaches, and me. Thank you! A thousand times, thank you! And you did it while we just sat outside and drank coffee, a few times, at my favorite coffee shop. Amazing!"
-- Brad, 46, Head Coach of #1 ranked NCAA Division 1 athletic team
"You forever changed my life.
It's ALL because of you.
The strength to get a divorce, lose 35 pounds, and just finally stand up and live MY life.
It's all because of you, Sven.
I'm your #1 biggest fan!!!"
------- Donna, 50, Nurse, New York
"Dear Sven, I am getting something from your book. A lot actually.
This is going to sound fucked up, but it gave me a gut check
& I quit acting like a spastic bitch with the boyfriend/ex boyfriend whatever the fuck he is.
Ps. I must say that the best part of your book is the 'salty' language. I grew up with brothers and in sports, and I mostly work among men. You talk straight! You're like the "No BS Cousin Vinny" we all wish we had, who swears but calls shit as it is, except you're smarter! I'm a far more balanced, peaceful badass now! Thanks again!"
-- Selena, 30, Pilot, Louisiana
"25 years with a therapist; didn't do much. 4 months with you, Sven, changed my life. You just changed everything. I finally stand up for myself. I finally understand why I've had crappy relationships. I feel totally different about myself." --Vittorio, 62, Police Officer, Connecticut
"A chance encounter, I doubt very much, for you were an ironic twist on the answer to my prayer. In utter doubt that anyone would be willing to speak to the true starvation of my soul, but would instead utter the drivel of hippy-shit and political correctness to address only my superficial cuts and scrapes, I asked God to send my way a conversation, the depths of which would be an anathema in a town seething with hatred for Christians (a town which my father despises for what it did to him in the 60s and a town which my mother watched degrade for many years through her experience teaching at the high school here). God answered my prayer. I'm still reeling from the directness of it, the shock of it. It, our meeting, rocked me from my foothold and I'm scrambling to maintain my persona of my "hardass." I wasn't completely ready for the answer and yet, there you were speaking to me as if I was your patient and you were the doctor or I was your parishioner and you were leading me through rough, rocky spiritual terrain or as if you were the messenger and I was the outlier starving for the message. And now I've got somewhere I’ve got to go from here, don't I?
I found you. I found you less than 10 minutes after I left your presence. So, I wanted to thank you. You were, indeed, God-sent. You seem so confident and you seem so certain of your calling, so you may not require or desire this email. However, your words and your actions were, I believe, delivered just for me at that instant, in that moment. Some prefer their messages to be couched in fluff and feel-good shit, mine needed to be delivered with profanity (the language I understand) and directness, without pretention and fearlessly overt and crude. I appreciate your courage in sharing with me that message. I encourage you (as if you need it) to keep on and I pray blessings on and over you as you endeavor to go deeper still in God’s Will for you. I pray that you continue to do what you found the strength and courage to do for me, which was to encourage me. It was no easy task and it is no easy trip, is it?"
-- Jessica, 32, Lawyer, Texas
"Every moment moves me closer!
I can never thank you enough for guiding me though this! Eyes always on the prize, no matter how tough it gets.
The true me can get through anything boys, money, insecurities, binge-ing and purging, anything.
I'm aware and present in every moment and feeling for the first time ever.
And even if it's not always immediately apparent.
I am and will continue this transformation. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sven!!!! I can't say thank you enough."
--- Alyssa, 21, college student, Atlanta
Stumbled upon your book --I Steal Wives-- a couple of days ago quite by accident on the web. Finished one and bought the other. I haven't been able to put either down once I started. Thanks for writing them. I've experienced several breakthroughs while reading.
Really appreciated the straight language. You spoke my native tongue.
While you have quite a provocative title, I must say that I think the book is less about cheating wives and more about the subtle breakdown of a marriage. While it is so easy to blame the other person for cheating, it's not about their problems or the cheating. I get that, have gotten that. But now I can put it into words.
Thanks, again. The revelations/insights/a-ha moments have been priceless. I've bought the other books you've recommended.
Angie from Texas, 70s
-- Bill, 50s, Florida
Dear Sven ..read some of "I Steal Wives"...im in my 50s and it scared me to my core.
What scared you?
How women and my wife have acted and ive totally misread everything
8/18, 2:30pmSven Erlandson
Hmmm. It is rather scary stuff once we begin to see it all.
- 8/18, 2:30pm
The ease in which they can and do have affairs and we NEVER know...NEVER
Any way you have really opened my eyes...I was never told or warned of this....
likened to going to battle with no weapons. I will never view relationships the same. I'm sending dates that I can start counseling with you; do any of these work for you and do you have openings?"
So the holiday passes and it's back on the wagon tomorrow morning! Not the most relaxing holiday that I've had to be certain.
I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated talking with you and I've been pouring over your writings and thoughts. Good stuff. Thanks.
Much like those considering jumping into frigid water, I'm oscillating between making the jump or simply pulling the jacket back on. It's harder than anything I've ever experienced in my entire life...
Thanks so much - I'm not one for believing in the magical hand of god delivering gifts to us at just the right time but your arrival in my life as therapist would be one of those things that cause me to take pause. You have changed how I think and how I live, and those aren't words I utter often."
Corbin, 42, Professor, Washington
Sven, You were one of the great influences in my life in the last couple of years. I have great respect for you. You've definitely changed my perspective on so much. Thank you!! -- Ryan, 33, Louisville, KY
Need your help
Hello Sven, This is the most difficult e-mail I have ever written. I need help - spiritual guideness and strenghth. I am going back to a residential recovery program for my alcohol. This is not of my own choice I am on a civil commitment. I will explain in more detail if you choose to contact me.
I have been in deep prayer this morning along with my morning devotions - God spoke to me and He put in my heart to contact you because I need Sven - a SPIRTITUAL WARRIOR - to help me especially while treatment. I have been blessed with a wonderful church and wonderful people - however, Jesus has placed in my heart to reach out to you.
I would like you to visit me in treatment - I would like to know your rates that would include travel. If we can work something out you would need to present yourself as my pastor so we could prehapes meet outside of Sunday visiting.
Currently I am in a hospital in Sioux Falls South Dakota waiting for a bed. They tell me it will be friday however it could be sooner. I am hurting and I am asking for your help.
The best way to reach me is by phone. Once in treatment I will not be able to contact people. No computer access allow and phone time very limited. I do not want to fuck around with my life any longer. I want to figure out what the hell is going on with the fact I continue to sabotage life. I will contact the facility and ask them what they will allow. As I mentioned, you will be my Pastor and prehapes they will agree with our meetings.
Thank you for the support, both in the past and that I know you will bring in treatment. You are fabulous!
Your fellow child of God,
Sarah, 43, South Dakota
Dear Sven, you old man!
The day that i decided to live my own life was the mother fuckin day i talked to sven! Really!!!
Thank you so much for connecting my heart to my brain. I really look forward to reading your book, my cousin has a kindle and would love to read it. cant wait to see you when I get back to the States.
And btw, your so awesome..I'm super far away an yet I can still hear your voice and excitement your amazing.
-- Natalie, 19, from France, while working on an organic farm