Ann Conklin Unruh’s book, “Coffee is Cheaper Than Therapy,” came about in an organic kind of way.
“If you have a friend you can share your thoughts with, you are in luck,” Unruh said while reminiscing about her many sessions about life, love and the pursuit of happiness with her good friend, Kathleen Wolfersberger.
“When life was giving one of us a hard time, we would talk, and end by telling each other what we saw as the other’s strengths. It was affirming, sometimes surprising, and definitely encouraging to hear some good words from a friend,” she said.
Unruh earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Yankton College, and a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Colorado. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, but moved to Kirkwood, Missouri 39 years ago. She worked as a counselor at St. Louis University for 19 years, and taught counseling and career-related classes at local colleges and universities. She had a private career-counseling practice for 15 years.
And though there are many times a professional might be the place to turn with life’s challenges, she maintains that a friend is sometimes all you need.
“Of course, some problems are better suited for therapy with a professional rather than a friend, but still…there were many times that we were struck by how much better we felt after simply getting whatever was needling us off our chests.”
Their issues certainly weren’t unique to them. The two friends discussed the book and thought that it was a way of allowing others to “listen in” on the conversations, and come away feeling easier about life. They also wanted to produce material in the voice of mature women.
“We think people’s perspectives change as they go through life. This became clear when I would go back and read something I had written several years before. It would be close to my thinking, but didn’t express quite where I was currently at. It seemed to have subtly changed,” she said.
One reader told Unruh that when she finished the book, she felt “normal.”
And though she said humor was not the intention when writing the book, a common occurrence throughout is the friends joking and making light of changing and aging (not taking things too seriously).
Unruh believes simple communication makes the human condition better.
“It helps if you have friends who share similar perspectives, so they ‘get’ what you are saying,” she said. “It also helps if they are not judgmental. If you find someone like that, it is a joy. Invariably, after talking to them, I end up in a better place.
“And we laughed a lot, and that felt good,” she added.
The book is not meant to be advice on life, but rather, the two friends’ observations about life.
“We hoped some of our remarks would resonate with people,” she said. “And we hoped to offer some comfort or support.”
Halfway through the writing of the book, Wolfersberger moved to Florida. Unruh was sad to see her go, but that doesn’t stop them from talking on the telephone.
“We still share our ups and downs. We take turns. She gets her stuff out in the open, and then I tell her mine,” Unruh said.
“Coffee is Cheaper than Therapy” can be purchased at Christopher’s Gifts in Kirkwood and Main Street Books In Old Town St. Charles, as well as amazon.com.