John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD

Practicing What I Preach

As of this moment, I am not in the office. I'm on Christmas break. Each year I take a week off between Christmas and New Years to spend time with my family. This is one of the ways I recharge my batteries. I like my work, indeed I see it as a calling or a mission. But it is also important that I nourish those relational connections in my personal life that keep me sane.

I love Christmas. I love the anticipation, the excitement, the traditions. But what I enjoy most is giving. I give presents, of course. But I also give my time, energy, and attention to the people I care about. Giving is good for the soul.

Happy holidays.

Do You Want to Feel Better -- Or Get Better?

The aim of psychotherapy is to help you improve the quality of your life. It’s not enough just to feel better. We want you to actually get better. There is a difference.

Just talking about a problem will often make you feel better. It just feels good to vent sometimes — to tell somebody what it is like to experience what you are struggling with, be it depression, anxiety, a relationship problem, a work problem, a major decision, whatever. Talking helps. Of course it does. The act of talking in and of itself allows you to clarify what you think, feel, want, need, and fear, which can lead to some relief.

But getting better takes you one step further. After you spend some time in our sessions reflecting on the deeper aspects of your life, sooner or later you will find yourself confronted with a choice. Do you want to go on feeling the way you've been feeing, or do you want your life to be different? Because if you want a different life, eventually you'll have to do something to make it happen.

Getting better requires action, usually in the form of small steps. Therapy helps you identify what actions to take, and how to take them. (Hint: your brain/psyche usually resists change. Therapy helps with that.)

I love it when my clients feel better. But I love it even more when they make
progress towards a goal.

Interested? Maybe I can help.

Therapy and Cell Phones

Therapy and cell phones don't mix.

Sometimes clients will come into a session, forgetting to turn off their cell phones. When it goes off, as it invariably will, most people realize what an intrusion it is and then turn the thing off. I appreciate this.

But some people leave still their cell phone on, and then we spend the rest of the session listening to ping of text messages, or worse, the ringing from an incoming call.

I try not to be rude. I try not to say, "Turn that darn thing off, will you?" But sometimes I fail. Sometimes I lose patience.

Look, therapy is an activity that requires you to turn away from the press of day-to-day living and focus on the deeper aspects of your life. We need to focus on the experience of being you — your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories, and more. And for that we need your full attention.

So do me a kind favor. When we meet for our appointed hour, turn off your phone and put it away. No, I don't mean leave it out, turned upside down and within easy reach. Put it away. Be brave. You can live without it for an hour.

Let's focus on you. Let's make your life better.