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Gretta Keene
Your Way There (To Being Fully Alive)

Adult; Self-Help, Sex & Relationships, Psychology, Philosophy, Fashion; (Market)

Your Way There is an illustrated self-guided course in psychotherapy, offering approachable mindfulness tools to build a happy, satisfying, and meaningful life. In this book, client stories and anecdotes from the author’s own journey are brought to life with over one hundred full-color illustrations—interweaving concepts for the mind with stories that speak to the heart.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.25 out of 10


Plot: Your Way There uses the expertise and experiences from the author's work as a psychotherapist to walk readers through the ups and downs of human emotions. This is a beautifully illustrated, engaging introduction to psychotherapy/ talk therapy that can help readers work better understand their emotions. 

Prose: The author's prose is clear and she uses helpful anecdotes, analogies, and metaphors to help readers process difficult feelings and experiences. This book uses a science-based approach, but the author's knack for crafting beautiful phrases enhances the prose.

Originality: In some ways, this work is fairly representative of psychotherapy/talk-therapy self-help books, but the author's kind but professional tone makes it very inviting. It is also filled with original illustrations that enhance the book's arguments in a novel fashion. 

Character/Execution: Overall, this is an approachable and engaging self-help guide. Readers might find it helpful to include an introduction that explains the author's professional qualifications and experiences from the start.

Blurb: Your Way There is a beautifully illustrated, engaging introduction to psychotherapy/ talk therapy that can help readers work better understand their emotions.

Date Submitted: December 09, 2022

Psychoanalyst Keene shares a well-laid path for readers to find their way through childhood traumas, internalized insecurities, and negative perspectives and interactions in this helpful resource for understanding why we react to or interpret situations the way that we do. From marital issues to relatable inner struggles such as not being able to let go of the glory days, Keene breaks down client cases that readers will be able to learn from, touching on a rich array of relationships, from parent-child to the relationship with one’s self. Keene's insight and professional knowledge shines through as Keene breaks down complex therapy sessions with anecdotal storytelling and clear-eyed, practical advice. A “Toolbox” offers overviews, questions for readers to contemplate, and exercises to promote conversations in personal relationships.

The result is a guidebook to the self and to connection, a resource for readers wanting to gain an understanding from a professional standpoint. Considerations of “Sticky Beliefs” (which govern our interpretations and reactions), “Bodyguards” (our defenses that kick in whether we need them to or not), and what it takes to put down “our shields of anger and swords of hate” all form a persuasive throughline about self-knowledge and how any of us can work to be more open and understanding in relationships. Meanwhile, Keene’s stories demystify therapy itself, offering an entertaining peek into the life of a therapist. Playful illustrations and graphics help lighten the mood even when the topics turn dark.

Keene demonstrates throughout the urgency of recognizing the contradictions inherent in our “Full Spectrums” of thoughts and feelings. Connecting with this Spectrum, she writes, helps us “identify, strengthen, and act on what is capable, courageous, and compassionate within us.” Your Way There showcases tools to help us understand and connect, both to ourselves and to those whose paths cross our own.

Takeaway: A psychoanalyst's engaging, insightful guide to understanding the self and connecting with others.

Great for fans of: Bruce D. Perry’s What Happened to You, Mark Wolynn’s It Didn't Start with You.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Blue Ink



Your Way There to Being Fully Alive: Tools and Concepts for Mindful Transformation 

Gretta Keene; illustrated by William Murray 

Wise Ink, 233 pages, (hardcover) $28.95, 978-1-63489-505-7 

(Reviewed: December 2022) 

From her clinical practice and personal life as a daughter, wife, and mother, psychotherapist Gretta Keene provides valuable tools and an instruction manual to construct an authentic, fulfilling life. 

Keene uses several profound questions to help the reader, as she's helped herself and her patients, find reasons for and ways out of devastating circumstances: “How do we connect with our inner experience?... With whom do we feel those strong emotional connections we call love? What is it about those connections that leaves us feeling fully alive—or not so much?” 

She skillfully explains how we were all shaped by our earliest caretakers and that those “Judging” or “Nurturing Parents” live in us still. She presents the “Full Spectrum”: a pie chart of all the human emotions that, when seen in its entirety by a “watching, wise Whole Self… in the center of the circle,” allows for negative feelings to be acknowledged and healed by more positive feelings. With this, we can quiet the scold and nurture ourselves toward a happier place. The goal is to live life “As-Is” rather than as “Should-Be.” 

Other tools Keene offers are the “Inner” and “Outer Camera”; the “Speaker-Listener” and “Yes…And…” modes of communication; and the Pause. She also encourages the use of traditional Buddhist practices such as compassion and meditation. 

Keene creatively and concisely presents her concepts and tools with the help of her husband’s whimsical watercolor-and-ink illustrations. Callouts in playful calligraphy reinforce the salient points. A 38-page toolbox at the back of the book summarizes each chapter’s information succinctly. 

The author relates her clients’ experiences with respect and tells her own stories of love, loss and dealing with serious illness gently and candidly. Anyone hoping for a gratifying life of less turmoil and more resilience will find a firm, kind guide here. Her book is richer and more original than much of the standard literature on self-actualization currently available.