For Shapiro, art actually does imitate life. She saw the connection between her experiences with seeing eight therapist in eight days and speed dating and decided to write Speed Shrinking, a novel about a character who goes through a similar experience. At the book's release party, she re-created her speed-shrinking concept for her guests. "I invited eight shrinks that I knew that had written books that I liked," she says. Guests had three minutes to meet with each therapist and share their issues.
Her first event at Knickerbocher Bar & Grill in New York City's Greenwich Village neighborhood was quite a success. "So many people bought the books from the therapists," Shapiro says. "A lot of people took business cards, and a lot of the shrinks said about 10 people signed up to have at least one intake session."
So far, she's had three speed-shrinking events, including her book release party. Because charity is important to her, she donated all of the books sales at one of the events to Housing Works, a nonprofit bookstore cafe in New York that works to end AIDS and homelessness.
For Shapiro, the speed-shrinking parties combine all her favorite things. "I'm totally impatient, I love shrinks and I hate small talk," she says. "So I invented a party where everybody is talking about therapy and everyone is spilling all of their stuff and there's no small talk."
She believes speed-shrinking events can benefit the therapy industry by allowing prospective patients to speak with self-help gurus and therapists about their problems and get to know them better. "Out of any field in the world, you have to open up and tell this person your secrets," she says. "Knowing that there's chemistry, knowing who they are and what their specialty is, it's very hard to find out."
Some psychological institutes gave her a hard time, thinking she was trying to replace regular therapy with three-minute sessions that could "change people's lives." "I had to come out and proclaim, 'I'm helping your business,'" Shapiro says. "This is an introduction to therapy, demystifying the process for young people who have no idea [how] to get into therapy. Therapy saved my life and my career, so I'm trying to make it cool and fun."
Get more information about Susan Shapiro and her upcoming speed-shrinking events