Jonah Hill & His Therapist Phil Stutz


If you haven’t  seen it I highly recommend you hop over to Netflix and watch Stutz, Jonah Hill’s documentary about his therapist Phil Stutz. Why? Well not because it is a riveting piece of art. In that way it’s just okay. The reason to use your 96 minutes of life on this is because Phile Stutz, Jonah’s therapist and the subject of the movie shares some therapeutic ‘Tools’ (as he calls them) that are spot on. They are simple, yet profound and if they strike you at all as valuable he has written several books that have a massive well of insights and practical ‘Tools’ to just feel better. It is essentially a free therapy session if you choose to apply his wisdom to your own struggles. Free therapy: good deal.


Are Therapists Supposed to Give Advice: & Why Phil Stutz Sort Of Does Anyway

You may not know this as a lay person but therapists are generally trained, even today, to not give advice. At first glance this may seem appalling to a person coming in to get help from their therapist, but I will defend it here, sort of. The idea originates from Fruedian and other early therapists. The idea was a combination of what I see as faith in the client that they will get there themselves with the right directive questions and that a conclusion drawn themselves was far more valuable than one offered. There are other factors, but this is one main one.

The other reasons therapists are directed to give advice is two fold of the same thing. It is unethical for one human to presume that they know the right path for another human and folded into that, imagine the very simple reason that advice can bill both heavily biased, values based and even unhelpful. As a therapist I can tell you unequivocally that it is rarely very clear the steps a person needs to take to get the best outcomes in their lives. Imagine someone in a really bad marriage but with several small children, that’s not an obvious answer. Or any multitude of complex life decisions.

That having been said, you may also relate to the deep yearning for direction as you finally get in with your new therapist. In the strictest of dogma a therapist would just ask questions and reflect what they hear back to you, every session. That certainly is a powerful process when used skillfully. But Phil Stutz and myself and many other therapists feel that there is some obligation to offer the client some immediate insights or tools that can provide some amount of relief. I would say that the long term and sweeping changes still require the commitment of listening and reflecting and deep dives, but that there is some low hanging fruit that any skilled therapist can offer in the way of quick wins that are essentially hope and proof that there is a path forward. Those things can be different. There are therapists absolutely that spend a session giving advice and directing clients. That I believe is ultimately less valuable than making space for clients to find their way with the assistance and even mercy of shorter term gains via tools and ways of framing their experience that may make it a bit easier to bear.

So kudos by me to Phil Stutz. He mentions in the movie that he felt an ethical obligation to help people immediately, both because they were paying him and because they were suffering.

It’s Nobody’s Fault; Get Over It.

(My Favorite Part Of Stutz’s work and how to treat anxiety , depression and PTSD with this method )

The absolutely most merciful and powerful piece of Stutz’s theory in my mind that he shared in the movie was that all of life is HARD WORK, PAIN & UNCERTAINTY.

Bummer. These are the top three fears or burdens  of all humans.It is the foundation of MANY painful behaviors as we try to avoid these feelings and when we can’t avoid them we desperately seek to place blame for their presence. Who caused me to have to feel all this pain, uncertainty and to have to work so hard. Invariably we come up with one of two answers.

It’s my own fault because: I’m not good enough to figure out how to make my life better, to make these things go away.
It’s someone else’s fault because they hurt me or failed me somehow which has forced me to experience more pain, uncertainty and work than…is fair.

I can not tell you how much money and time and worse life people have spent as my client’s circling around this cycle over and over. This cycle is the foundation of a host of mental health struggles like anxiety, depression, PTSD and possibly all of mental health struggles on some level.

But it also not a bummer if you let this sink in. If it is true that this is an inescapable reality of life, then the world is to make peace with the fact that is just how it is. Although we can adjust a bit the volumes we get of these things, our greatest potential for a more satisfying life is to learn how to accept that this is just life and to spend our energy learning how to live better in this reality. I often say that blame and fault are the most misguided concepts. They rob us of opportunities for such bigger thinking.

Stutz’s straightforward affirmation and normalization of pain, uncertainty and hard work is a deep kindness that tells us that the suffering in life is okay. Okay in that we don’t need to be panicked about making it go away or spend so much effort hoping that no one sees that they are part of our life. Oh the shame!! Of pain. As if someone could be good enough to get out of pain, uncertainty and hard work. Thank you Phil Stutz, for telling us it’s not possible. Now we don’t need to be ashamed of our suffering, desperate to fault someone for it or deluded that it will someday go away when we finally get our act together.

If There’s Always Pain Than What The Point

There is so much to be said for spending your efforts on accepting and processing that life is hard, because once you can suspend your energies from being upset about that, trying to make it stop or place blame you are freed up to connect with other humans and live your life. It is essentially agreeing to do life on life’s terms and when you accept it life unfolds in ways that were previously impossible. Stutz describes this in a somewhat spiritual way. Maybe that’s for you or maybe it isn’t, but I can tell you first hand from thousands of hours of therapy I have been a part of, when people get to this place their lives change in inexplicable ways. People can barely recognize their old life once they come into acceptance and build skills for the facts of life. If is hard to over emphasize how much of life that we miss, that we don’t even got a shot at when we are fighting reality and failing to build skills for accommodating reality.

Begin Working With A Stutz informed therapist

The team of outstanding therapists at North Boulder Counseling can help you by using their tailored Stitz informed treatment plan that addresses skills for living in uncertainty, pain and constant work while still increasing connection, joy and love. These will be the anchors in your treatment to move you forward and onto feeling more hope. To start your therapy journey, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Contact our therapy center
  2. Request an appointment to learn more about our team
  3. Begin overcoming your depression!


Other Services Offered with North Boulder Counseling

The team at our Boulder, CO-based counseling practice is happy to provide support for a variety of mental health concerns with both in-person support and online therapy across the state. Depression therapy isn’t the only service we offer, we are also happy to provide support via anxiety counselingeating disorder treatmenttrauma therapy/PTSD treatmentplay therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy. We offer therapy services for the whole family, including counseling for men, women, teens, and children. Other therapy services offered include LGBTQ counselinganxiety intensive treatmentpostpartum anxiety treatment, parent coaching, and co-parenting. Feel free to learn more about us, or visit our blog for more info!

Related Reads
Mental Health Struggles of College Men and How Therapy Can Help
Can it be Helpful for Men to See a Male Therapist?
What Types of Therapy are Best for Men?
Father’s Day Blog