walkway representing psychotherapy and counseling
About Psychotherapy
Peter Gibson, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
Psychotherapy is the process of talking through personal concerns in order to achieve relief, understanding and change. Because there are many kinds of personal problems and disorders, types of professionals who offer mental health services, and approaches to mental health treatment, getting started in psychotherapy can be daunting and confusing. I hope that describing my practice and policies here and elsewhere on this site helps clarify the process.

Appropriate concerns range from short-term specific problems to serious emotional disturbance. A list of common issues in my practice is on my homepage. Many of my clients have entered therapy when an issue arising from a close relationship has motivated them to understand themselves more fully.

Beginning of Therapy

In the beginning of therapy specific psychotherapeutic goals and a plan for treatment will be developed together with the client. While these will vary from person to person, treatment generally includes a combination of emotional support, self-awareness, and cognitive/behavioral strategies to address one's specific concerns. My experience is that an integration of insights from one's past experiences together with an examination of the current concerns is often the most beneficial. Maintaining client confidentiality is an important aspect of therapy, and issues related to confidentiality will be discussed at the outset.

If the addition of psychiatric medication is indicated as an adjunct to psychotherapy, I work with a several local psychiatrists and can assist in making a referral. Twenty-four hour telephone contact is also available in the event of emergency situations.

Philosophy

Perhaps more than anything else, it is important to be comfortable with oneself. Whether the source of distress is real world life problems or internal emotional states, relief comes from understanding, the realization of choices, and acceptance.

When experiencing difficulties it is easy to become emotionally isolated, hiding one's true feelings and needs from others and even from oneself. People sometimes end up managing their lives just by going through the motions day to day while keeping key parts of themselves disengaged. And there is often a tension regarding one's identity, with feelings of confusion or discontent with oneself or one's behaviors. Childhood issues and conflicts may also have an unnecessarily large grip on one's life as an adult.

Psychotherapy provides a supportive environment in which to be open with oneself and to become more aware and confident so that one can deal with problems and fears, as well as goals and desires, more directly.

With understanding come choices. Psychotherapy serves to help people learn how to change patterns of behavior, develop coping strategies, engage in trusting and fulfilling relationships, and confront difficulties assertively. For couples in particular, improved communication skills make for greater empowerment to have the kind of relationship they desire. Instead of seeing oneself on the receiving end of problems, I believe life can be lived actively and purposefully with oneself leading the way.

Of course some of what bothers us is wanting to change things that can not be changed. Stresses can relate to employment and financial difficulty, illness, family dysfunction, parenting problems, losses, or internal emotional distress. Often we forget how to live life in the moment as our minds are preoccupied with these very real feelings and concerns. If we can adopt a greater acceptance of and compassion for ourselves and our circumstances, we've taken a big step towards lessening the grip of the problems sufficiently to notice and enjoy the rest of our lives.

In over 30 years of practice, I have worked with people with the entire range of mental health problems. I believe that everyone's story and situation are worthy of respect and care, and I welcome the opportunity to join in that story and together work towards producing lasting gains.