John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD

Q and A with Dr. Gibson

Every now and then, people will ask questions. Here are some of the more common ones along with my answers.

Q: Why did you become a psychologist?

A: I became a psychologist because I’ve always been interested in people. I became a psychologist who practices therapy because I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Q: Does therapy really work?

A: Actually, the therapy process has been subjected to been hundreds of well-controlled studies. And what they show is that people who receive therapy are roughly 75 to 80 percent better off than those who don’t (with comparable issues). Having said that, I hasten to add that results vary and many factors contribute to the success of any given therapy experience, not the least of which is the client’s motivation.

Q: Aren’t most shrinks a little crazy themselves??

A: Stereotypes abound in our culture. Unfortunately, therapists are often poorly portrayed in movies and television. Most mental health professionals are hard-working, well-trained individuals who spend years learning their craft. They vary in terms of personality, style, gender, and personal issues. Fortunately, one does not need to be perfect to be helpful to another human being. One does need, however, to be well-trained, compassionate, and endowed with an ample amount of what we might call “emotional intelligence.”

Q: How can you understand me if you’ve not been through what I’ve been through?

A: This presumes that I use my own personal experience as the basis for understanding and helping my clients. Frankly, there is a lot more to it than that. The human psyche is (delightfully) complex. When I listen to people discuss their concerns, I rely considerably more on my training, professional experience, and knowledge than I do on my own personal experience.

Q: How can you stand to listen to people talk about their problems all day long?

A: To a large extent, I think therapy is a vocational calling. Not everybody is suited to do it, and certainly not everybody wants to do it. But for me, working with people is a privilege. I enjoy my work. I like the idea of helping people understand themselves (and others) better so they might lessen pain and improve their lives. My job isn’t for everybody, but it is for me.

Q: Who does therapy cost so much?

A: Actually, I think is a bargain when you consider the potential payoffs. You are your best asset. If you’re unhappy, depressed, anxious, stuck, struggling, lost, or whatever –– what would it be worth to you to move past this place and get on with life? For most people, it’s worth a lot. And the cost of not getting past this place is generally quite high.

Having said that, there are many expenses involved in being a therapist that are not immediately apparent. Therapists charges the fees they do because they need to account for their training, experience, inherent limitations on their time, continuing education, self-care, malpractice insurance, overhead, and more.

When you find a therapist who offers an unusually low fee, buyer beware. This may indicate someone who has no or little experience in the field, or someone who under-estimates the practical realities of running a therapy business for the long run. With therapy, you really do get what you pay for.

Q: What do you tell people who––

A: Let me stop you right there. Therapy is not about giving generalized advice. People are as unique as their fingerprints and the solutions that work for one person might not work for another. In therapy, I pains to understand you as you are. I tailor my approach to the needs of any given individual or couple. Problems may be universal (e.g., anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties), but the personal issues that drive those problems can be highly specific to a particular person. Because of this, generalized advice just won’t do. Therapy must be tailor made for you.

Q: On your “About” page it says you have an “exuberant” dog. What’s up with that?

A: I like dogs. Even dogs with high energy that live to play, walk, eat –- and play some more. As far as I’m concerned, dogs are pretty good teachers.