Psychotherapy’s Pilgrim-Poet: The Story Within by Betsy Hall

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Psychotherapy’s Pilgrim-Poet: The Story Within imaginatively describes the interior experience of the therapeutic client by utilizing the images of epic literature as an interpretive lens for the psychotherapeutic process.  Through the characters, plot, and psychological landscape of The Epic of Gilgamesh,  Homer’s Odyssey, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, we look anew at the client’s motivation to journey, their courage, affects, memories and wounds, the therapeutic bond, the encounter with the unconscious, and the act of story-telling.  The author demonstrates that depth psychological work is a soulful pilgrimage characterized by a spiritual and heroic descent to the deep psyche in pursuit of wholeness and the authentic self.  Although this book is theoretically informed, it is not intended to provide clinical explanations; rather, it aspires to describe the psychotherapeutic experience from an inside point of view, from the inner life of the client. The primary aim is to renew and deepen an understanding of the client’s profoundly difficult and courageous psychological endeavor in depth psychotherapy. This book is a culmination of the author’s experiences as researcher, teacher, therapist, enthused reader of epic, and most importantly, as client. It weaves together the author’s personal stories with client vignettes, epic literature, depth psychology, mythological studies, and literary criticism.

What People Are Saying About Psychotherapy’s Pilgrim Poet

In Psychotherapy’s Pilgrim-Poet, Dr. Hall, through her tender poetic eloquence, creates a psychological space for us to enter into the hero’s adventures and experience for ourselves the universal truths so gracefully uncovered. She writes most poignantly of the courage required for the journey, the suffering and sacrifice involved, and the salvific bounty at the end—our self-possession and integrity. The stories are riveting; the meanings conveyed are exceedingly human and radiate a mature hope that each of us can indeed emerge from the voyage more whole and able to love more compassionately. This important and profound book is a soul-filled gift to every psychotherapy patient and therapist.

Amelio A. D’Onofrio, PhD
Clinical Professor and Director, Psychological Services Institute, Fordham University


Through four epic stories from literature, Betsy Hall presents a profound description of the journey that is possible through depth psychotherapy.  Weaving the threads of ancient and contemporary stories, she brings to life the experience of the therapist and the client in a deeply insightful and engaging book.  It is a real treasure for the world of depth psychotherapy.

Kathryn Kuisle, PhD, Jungian Analyst


Psychotherapy’s Pilgrim-Poet will be heralded by both those who teach literature from a psychological and mythological perspective, by those therapists and mental health workers who believe in the healing efficacy of narratives, the importance of history and the undeniable power of the mythopoetic. But most  importantly, and to return to the focus of Betsy’s study, the poet-pilgrim on his or her life journey, will be most assisted when his or her epic narrative is illuminated and augmented by Betsy’s forceful and compassionate text, a guide, if you will to the deep layers of the poetic psyche of its clients.

Dennis Patrick Slattery, PhD, author of Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Plotting Your Personal Story
and Creases in Culture: Essays Towards a Poetics of Depth

Betsy Hall, PhD, LCSW, is a Professor and Assistant Dean of the Division of Counseling and Family Therapy at Regis University in Denver, Colorado.  She has been a practicing depth psychotherapist and clinical supervisor for over 30 years. Having received her doctorate in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology, Betsy is passionate about the interplay between psychology, mythology, literature and the arts.  She lives with her husband and their four-legged children in Boulder, Colorado.