Columnists, Articles

July 4th, 2019

The empowered patient

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

Patients nowadays are empowered more than ever. They’ve not only read all about their disorder online, but they may have even participated in an online support group or previously tried online therapy before coming to you. This trend is a good one that every clinician should embrace. A fear of misinformation online has been put to rest by research suggesting that most information about mental health concerns online is trustworthy. Of course, people can always seek out non-mainstream opinions and viewpoints, but most do not. An empowered patient doesn’t just mean they’re informed and educated about their condition. It also [More]

July 4th, 2019

What I imagined in the psychology aisle

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

About once every decade, I go down to my local bookstore to scan the shelves in the psychology aisle and simply let the titles speak to me. These rare excursions are not meant for shopping or browsing. As a book store junkie, I shop and browse often enough, but scanning and waiting for an insight is a special activity reserved for special occasions. I suppose if I were more systematic in my observations, I might be able to discern the Zeitgeist of every decade from the titles of the books on offer, but I go more out of curiosity and [More]

May 29th, 2019

Looking both ways

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Looking forward to my 50th college reunion this month and backward to what I learned during those four years, I am surprised by the power of a teacher’s words to strike a responsive chord that has been vibrating in my life through the passing decades. So, come with me to the leafy campus of suburban university in the late 1960s, to classroom in a Gothic style building made of gray Pennsylvania fieldstone. We sit at wooden desks on seats attached to a flat writing surface that spreads out from a single arm of our chairs, a right arm for right-handers, [More]

May 13th, 2019

The shame of United Behavioral Healthcare

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

I’m surprised United Behavioral Healthcare (UBH) – a part of behemoth UnitedHealthcare — can even show its face these days. After a scathing ruling against this disliked healthcare insurer was handed down in early March, it’s become clear – to me at least — that UBH only cared for its bottom line, not the highest quality patient care possible. It also once again illustrated the separate and unequal systems that exist in parallel – one that treats physical symptoms, and an inferior system setup to provide the most minimal of coverage to treat mental symptoms. In the case, Wit v. [More]

May 11th, 2019

Why we walk

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When he was finally given permission to walk outside of the locked areas of the hospital with staff supervision, the man wasted no time in arranging opportunities to walk with his psychiatrist, to work in the hospital greenhouse, and to spend some of his weekly therapy hour with me in the open air. There is nothing new about walking during psychotherapy sessions. It was a common practice for Sigmund Freud to walk with his patients around the University in Vienna. The walks helped his patients clear their minds and speak more freely than they could have done in the office. [More]

March 25th, 2019

Playing the waiting game

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

In the depths of winter and longing for spring, I am finding reminders everywhere of how much our lives are consumed by waiting. In the hospital, patients wait to be examined, to be found competent to stand trial, not criminally responsible for the actions that led to their confinement, for the voices to stop, to be allowed to go home. Mothers wait for their babies to be born and people everywhere wait for the results of lab tests, CT scans, and biopsies that will unlock the mysteries of health and illness and give them a glimpse of the future. Every [More]

March 10th, 2019

Introduction to Psychology

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Some things grab hold of us and never let go. Of all the things that might have had this effect on me, I would have never predicted that one of them would be my first psychology textbook, Introduction to Psychology by Clifford T. Morgan and Richard A. King. I kept the book for years, rarely looking inside and often not even knowing where in the house it was. It was enough to know that it was there somewhere, with me in companionable silence as I built my career and family life on other stories, written in other books, told by [More]

March 9th, 2019

It’s time for portability in psychologist licensing

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

There may have been a time in the not-too-distant past when the guild mentality that infects clinical psychology as a profession served a purpose. Not only did it emphasize psychologist’s greater training and educational requirements, but it helped to differentiate the profession from others that provided similar services (such as psychotherapy). But the guild mentality comes with heavy licensing requirements and continuing education quotas that don’t seem to make as much sense as they once did. The heavy burden of our profession’s licensing requirements has a real-world impact in psychologist’s lives and professional career trajectories. Want to move your family [More]

January 5th, 2019

Where is the leadership in Mass. compensation debate?

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

Psychologists in Massachusetts are letting down their fellow citizens, as more and more clinical psychologists refuse to accept traditional health insurance for payment. In an in-depth article in the Oct. 21, 2018 issue of the Boston Globe, Liz Kowalczyk details the challenges citizens in Massachusetts face in getting psychological care through their insurance provider or through the government’s Medicaid program. The typical finger-pointing ensues in the article, with insurance companies and Medicaid claiming they are paying market rates ($72 for a 45-minute session) while trying to cut back on burdensome paperwork costs. Psychologists and other therapists claim it’s still not [More]