Most therapists sit back and listen, keeping their own stories under lock. But therapists John Kim and Vanessa Bennett are breaking conventions and using their own struggles as a couple to help readers navigate their relationships in their new book, “It’s Not Me, It’s You: Break the Blame Cycle. Relationship Better.”
“Pulling the curtain back to show our own vulnerabilities shows that we all have these issues, that we’re also on this journey with you,” Bennett tells the Post. “It very much feels like we’re leveling the playing field.”
Kim, 49, and Bennett, 38, have been a therapist power-couple for five years now. But their relationship journeys have been anything but easy. Vanessa found herself breaking off an engagement at age 31, and John struggled through a divorce at 35. That’s why they wrote this book for readers in their 30s and 40s who realize the relationships they’ve found themselves in are in need of healing. “This book is for people who have gone somewhere with their relationships, came back, and realized that they wanted something different,” says Kim.
Kim has grown a huge following as The Angry Therapist, first on Tumblr and now with over 300,000 followers on Instagram. He’s drawn attention for his honesty, transparency, and humility as a therapist, literally meeting clients where they are — whether that be at a coffee shop or on a hike. “Even though I’m a licensed therapist, I call myself a coach to do things that I wasn’t supposed to do, like meet people at the gym, take walks with people,” he said. “I’ve always thought the best way to talk about life is to do life while we’re talking.”
“The issues that we share our troubles around are many of the same issues we see our clients struggling with in their relationships,” says Bennett. Some of the issues they break down include codependent tendencies, different attachment styles, different love languages, behavioral differences, mismatched desires, and learning how to fight fair.
The number one lesson Kim hopes readers take away from their book: “Relationships are hard, and they only work if both people are taking ownership. We’re fast to blame and point fingers, but rarely do we own our own s–t.”
In the end, Bennett and Kim hope that being vulnerable with their own stories—as two real people in a real relationship—will help guide readers onto a healthier relationship path, just like that openness has helped the hundreds of clients they’ve coached through the years. “We’ve both seen just how healing it is with our clients when we humanize ourselves,” she said.