John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD

Joining Forces

Many people avoid going to therapy because they're afraid to reveal a personal problem. They fear being judged, diagnosed, or looked down upon.

In a Facebook culture, where everybody is always taking selfies to prove what a great time they’re having, who wants to admit they are depressed, anxious, or struggling to cope with life?

"No thanks, doc. I'll keep my private life to myself."

But before you dismiss therapy outright, let me tell you this. What I do is join forces with people. I do not judge, moralize, criticize, or condemn. I understand that human beings are flawed, vulnerable, irrational, and occasionally conflicted.

There are no perfect human beings. Sooner or later, everyone struggles. Life is hard.

I cannot make life less hard for you — no one can. Nor can I change your past, your history, the things that have happened to you. What I can do, however, is join forces with you as you try to make progress towards some goal.

On-line Therapy

Because of the COVID pandemic, I began conducting on-line therapy sessions exclusively in March of 2020. As of this writing, it is not clear when I will return to providing sessions in my office.

I use Doxy Me, a telemedicine service that is HIPAA compliant and fully secure. This service allows me to work with anyone in the state of Michigan.

Virtual sessions can be an effective way to do therapy. The things we talk about in face-to-face sessions can still be done in a virtual sessions. I switched over to on-line sessions in March so that my clients could reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. So far, everyone seems to have adapted to this format quickly. If you are thinking about starting therapy, don't let the COVID-19 situation stand in your way. Virtual sessions work. (And therapy helps.)

If you have questions about whether on-line therapy is right for you, I can be reached at (616) 218-8059.

Tips for using Teletherapy

Make sure you have privacy.

A good internet connect really helps.

Be careful about not having a bright light behind you.

Hey, it's technology. Sometimes it glitches. Keep your phone handy in case we need backup.

Earbuds and headsets seem to cut down on noise, but they are not strictly necessary.

You might give yourself a few minutes before a session to tune into your emotional state.

You might give yourself a few minutes after a session as a transition to whatever is next.

Coping During Lockdown

  1. Put yourself on a news diet. Limit how much you read about COVID-19.
  2. Check-in once a day with the stuff you need to know. ( is a pretty good source.) Then stop.
  3. Bring back the art of conversation. Try talking about things other than Coronavirus.
  4. I know the TV is an easy solution, and I'm not saying don't watch it. Just don't make that the only thing you do with your time. Do a hobby. Read a book. Play a board game with family members. Cook. Do some yard work.
  5. Go outdoors. This is one of the more under-rated things we can do to help ourselves.
  6. Give your dog or cat a little extra love. You'll both feel better.
  7. Sleep more. (Most of us don't get enough sleep.)
  8. If you work from home, tinker with your workspace. Can you make it better?
  9. Move your body. Don't just sit. Even if you don't have an exercise routine, go for a walk, ride bike, work in the yard…
  10. Watch a comedy. It helps to laugh.
  11. Re-read a favorite novel. (Revisiting something familiar can help with overwhelm.)
  12. If you have a partner, get physical. Affection, touch, sex—these things have the potential to sooth us, give us pleasure, and sometimes even heal us.
  13. Savor your food and drink. When we savor, we pay close attention to the experience of eating and drinking.
  14. Start a project. Look around. What needs fixing? Cleaning? Building? Creating?
  15. If you're working from home, take more breaks if you can. Especially if you have to do a lot of stuff with video conferencing, which seems to wear people out.
  16. Give your spiritual life some nourishment. Pray, meditate, read poetry, read holy books, or engage in introspective writing. These things are good for the soul.

COVID-19 Precautions

My policy about COVID-19 can be found by clicking here.

Else, we're all a little anxious about this, and rightly so. This is a challenging time.

We do not eliminate risk in life, but there are things we can do to minimize it. Do tune to what the CDC and our local health departments advise in terms of safety precautions.

But I might suggest that you limit the amount of time you spend on the internet following this story? Given that developments are happening quite quickly, it pays to find out what they are. But try not to ratchet up your anxiety unnecessarily.

Checking the internet once a day is probably enough.

Remember that there are many things about this situation that we do not control. The trick is to focus on what you can control, and accept those things that you can't.

Hang in there. Eventually life will get back to normal.