INTERVIEW WITHLLOYD GILBERT, M.Sc. in CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY and M.Sc. in Counseling Psychology*
Q. What is your initial process with a new client?
A. The consultation begins with an assessment which involves history taking and personality testing. I’ve gotten to the point where I think I’ve been able to incorporate a lot of what I understand about interaction, not only in theory, but in terms of my practice.
Q. Is it necessary to have a diagnosis before coming to see you?
A. Not at all. Diagnosis are usually given by psychiatrists, and psychiatrists use a medical model. There's so much more to look at other than a medical model in terms of understanding the human mind and human behaviour.
Q. What is your goal with each patient?
A. The goals are different depending on the person... understanding what kinds of hurts and injuries they've had emotionally through the years. The main goal is to build their self-sufficiency, their sense of well-being... and together we decide how to get there as best we can.
Q. Who decides how long the treatment is going to be?
A. A treatment plan involves an amount of time whose duration is initially unknown. The process grows... new disclosures and insights are revealed and focused on... and usually, termination of treatment is a collaborative effort.
Q. So the main goal is to have clients become self sufficient?
A. Yes... the goal is, I think, self-sufficiency, a sense of well-being. It's of utmost importance that clients become free from anxieties that may direct them to a place of fear when making decisions about their life. The effort is centered around ensuring they work from a different emotional basis - not fear - which is what often brings them here.
Q. Why have you modeled your practice after Dr. John Gottman?
A. He's the only restaurant in town... Dr. John Gottman was a researcher who looked, in-depth, at couples and marriages. He spent 35 years doing weekend workshops, examining how people relate: what works and doesn't work. I went to Seattle and I trained with him. I was convinced there isn't anything else that is really able to highlight what was successful in therapy and what was not. One of the things Gottman talks about is the importance of being connected in conflict - showing soft landings and appreciations, repair efforts, and so on. He's formulated his clinical skills in his treatment, and this, happily, is not about finding the identifying patient - namely if one is more problematic than the other: it's about how we can operate with these skill sets and create change.
Q. What percentage of couples go through this type of therapy and have positive results?
A. In my experience, the marital work has a very high rate of success and a low rate of relapse.
Q. When do couples usually come to see you?
A. Couples usually come to see me at the end of their child-rearing years... the children are gone and individuals have to face each other. Or they come more typically when one has an affair and are questioning what to do about it - and can they work out trust issues. Or they come to me when their relationship is really boring. There's a book called "Can Love Last?: The Fate of Romance Over Time". The second part of the title is an answer, "The Fate of Romance Over Time"... so the problem with relationships is they become routine, and when they become routine, they die. Woody Allen, in his film, "Annie Hall", described marriage. He said, "It's like a shark: when it stops moving it dies." And so I believe it is,so there has to be a continuation of movement and interest to enhance the meaning of any relationship.
Q. So you try to help couples keep their relationship "moving"?
A. Yes, I keep it moving... and I look at ways to keep the relationship not only fresh, but to help keep the energy going as well as a sense of genuine interest in each another. I also developed a process called "Blissful Alignment" which is incorporates emotional intelligence, being aware of the other individual's emotional intelligence, and being able to work from that.
Q. What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?
A. When people start creating their own insights and working from those insights... they're leading the pack, they're dissecting themselves, and they feel... and I feel... such a sense that they're moving with it. It's not as if they're going to need me indefinitely, they're directing things themselves... so that gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Q. You do sessions over the phone. Are they as beneficial as seeing you in person?
A. There's something quite workable about over the phone sessions... and there are all kinds of benefits to undertaking that method of work...
Q. You worked at Mount Sinai Hospital, here in Toronto?
A. In 1974... yes, I did. We opened the new Mount Sinai Hospital, the first hospital in Ontario that was analytic / psychoanalytic. The leading edge minds in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy were there... It was an incredible learning experience.
Q. What do you do to stay current in your fields of expertise?
A. I keep looking at various ways to enhance what I know and add new dimensions to it. I travel a lot to the West Coast to participate in workshops lead by individuals such as John Wylde, John Gottman and Sue Johnston.
Q. Can you tell me a something about the work you did at the National Ballet School, here, in Toronto?
A. I was a consultant to the National Ballet School. My clients were adolescents who were struggling with eating disorders or were anxious about presentation issues - namely about their bodies and being perfect.
Q. Adolescents are a large part of your practice. What made you want to become qualified to work with them?
A. My initial training was in Topeka, Kansas, at the Menninger Foundation. I worked at a residential treatment centre with adolescent girls. I also worked with individuals with ADHD and with individuals with eating disorders. I was also a part of a group that gathered research about the kinds of things that were helpful and effective in treating adolescents, and I bring many of those results to my practice today.
Q. What was the reason you decided to work with adolescents?
A. I had heard a lot about the Menninger Foundation, and had liked what I heard... especially about the children's unit. I appreciated the kind of thoughtfulness they put into their residential treatment programs. There wasn't another place like it in America, so I was fortunate to have the opportunity to practice there. Ultimately, the reason I find working with adolescents interesting, is because I think adolescence is such a transitional period... such a challenging period of issues arising.
Q. What makes this process work?
A. Well, I'm unknown... and individuals will naturally test out, test me out... Do I understand, do I see them, do I understand them, and so on. So the base line I think is, is there enough trust? Is there enough willingness to be open to someone they don't know. So trust, and also willingness to be more open and vulnerable... and the idea that this is not about judgement, it's about understanding who they are and to respect they got here somehow... So I want to respect and honour that, but I also want to add a dimension to them, and that is if they can trust me, they can go someplace.
*Academic Designations only