Dr. Gerald Drose Psychologist

15: Gerald S. Drose, Ph.D., L.P. – Experienced Psychologist Shares his Personal and Professional Journey in his New Novel

Dr. Gerald Drose was born and raised in Charleston, SC in a tight-knit family. His father coached him in sports throughout his life and his mother worked as a playground director. Though he had a very active and playful childhood, he recalls that he was a little lost in his early adulthood. In this podcast interview, he explains how he found himself in a graduate program in clinical psychology and how his experiences inspired him to write his first novel “Bird Gotta Land: The Education of a Young Psychologist” which is loosely based on his time in graduate school.

As a licensed psychologist with over 32 years of experience, Dr. Drose offers advice to those interested in the field of psychology and to those who want to start their own practice. He met his wife, Dina Zeckhausen, in grad school and explains why they founded Powers Ferry Psychological Associates. He discusses how they have grown from one location with 3 therapists to 4 locations with over 30 clinicians mainly through hard work, organic growth, and by providing a variety of assessment, psychotherapy, and special services.

Dr. Drose highlights the importance of being fully present and alive in all of your life experiences and with clients. He states “…so you know psychotherapy is about landing, or becoming mindful…” and “…when you kind of feel like you understand, even if it’s a myth that you understand but you tell yourself you understand, you become mindful, you become more centered.” He also reminds us that there is an incredible need for psychotherapy and that this need “has grown exponentially” in recent years. Therefore, if you are interested in the field of psychology, get started now to help meet the need for more psychotherapists.

Though Dr. Drose shares parts of his personal and professional journey to becoming a practicing psychologist in this podcast, we learn more about his experiences in his book through powerful and complex character development. We learn about the protagonist, Stephen, a graduate student in clinical psychology as well as the story lines surrounding his father, his young son, and his budding relationship with his girlfriend. The reader also gets drawn in to learn about his professors, classmates, and landlords. As an added bonus, we learn more about the game of softball and the color of his Karmann Ghia convertible.

Those embarking on a graduate degree in psychology, going through psychotherapy, or simply on their own journey of self-awareness and personal growth will benefit from reading “Bird Gotta Land.”

Connect with Dr. Gerald Drose: Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Website
Connect with the Show: Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

Interests and Specializations

Dr. Gerald S. Drose is a licensed psychologist who works with individuals and couples. He has published research on sex therapy and written a bi-weekly column on love, sex, and marriage. He has extensive training and experience in couples and sex-therapy and specializes in marital and premarital issues as well as relationship issues including anxiety, depression, divorce, family conflict, sexual addiction, and couples therapy. He uses multiple therapy techniques and approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Hypnotherapy, Sex Therapy, Individual Therapy, and Couples Therapy.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Psychology (1981); University of South Carolina.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Clinical-Community Psychology (1988); University of South Carolina.

Dr. Gerald Drose at PsychologyToday
Dr. Gerald Drose at Amazon
“Bird Gotta Land” at Amazon

Podcast Transcription

00:00:12 BradleyWelcome to the Master’s in Psychology podcast where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a graduate degree in psychology. I’m your host, Brad Schumacher, and today we welcome Dr. Gerald Drose to the show. Dr. Drose is a licensed psychologist and Co-founder of Powers Ferry Psychological Associates which has four locations in Georgia. He has been in the field for over 32 years and his practice offers assessment, therapy, and special services. Today, we will learn more about his academic journey, advice for those interested in the field of psychology, and discuss his new novel called “Bird Gotta Land: The Education of a Young Psychologist” which is about a graduate student in psychology and is loosely based on his time in grad school. Dr. Drose…welcome to our podcast.
00:01:06 GeraldThank you, Brad. I’m glad to be here.
00:01:09 BradleyWell, I’m excited to talk to you. I, I love doing all the research on my guests and yours is very interesting and a good variety and the timing of your novel coming out this year is just perfect. I think it’s perfect for our audience to see, and learn, and hear about your experiences, uh, going through grad school so just… to start us off, just to tell us a little bit more about yourself.
00:01:34 GeraldOK, well I, I grew up, uh I was born and raised in Charleston, SC from a family that’s very tight-knit and involved. And my parents, my father coached me in sports throughout my life and my mother worked at a playground and eventually became playground director. So, I kind of grew up going to a playground every day after school and playing whatever sport was in season and uh, had sort of a, a playful young life, yeah. And then I, uh? Uh, I consider myself getting a little lost in my early adulthood and then found myself, found my way to a graduate program and Ph.D. program in psychology in clinical psychology, and I met my wife there, who is also a clinical psychologist and, and we moved to Atlanta. Opened a clinical practice here and it’s gradually grown as you’ve described to a pretty big practice. And I have 3 adult male children. One, of whom, was from my first marriage, which ended when I was beginning Graduate School. And he’s now 41 and has, I have a granddaughter with him and another one on the way. And then I have two other younger sons that are 25 and 22 and all three of them are here in Atlanta. And as I mentioned to you before we got on, we’ll be going to an Atlanta Braves baseball game. Right after this, so, uh. It’s a good life.
00:03:23 BradleyYes, it sounds like it and, and I should add that you are an avid baseball fan and, and even in your book you, you refer to baseball and softball, in particular, and we’ll talk more about the book, but usually we like going through and, and kind of going through your academic journey. So, let’s go ahead and start off talking about your undergraduate experiences. Where did you attend and at what point did you know that you wanted to get your psychology degree or start your career in psychology?
00:03:52 GeraldYeah, so I have a, my story is a little different, I think, than most. Or maybe they’re all different. But I, uh, I started off at the College of Charleston. I describe myself as an undergraduate nomad. I went to three schools, eventually got a degree in political science, and started a graduate program in International Studies at the University of South Carolina. And, uh, I liked the intellectual part of studying. I was studying Middle East policy politics and I was fascinated by it. But when it came time to talking about what kind of jobs somebody with a master’s in International Studies worked, I realized it was either in the diplomatic core or in intelligence, and I wasn’t really interested in either of those jobs. And I had always wanted to be a psychologist. That was my first sort of job I identified when I figured out, or when I learned what a psychologist did, I thought that’s what I want to do, but I didn’t think of myself as being able to make the kind of grades it took to get into Graduate School and, and, and that sort of thing, so I, I sort of never really pursued it. But then when I found myself at that point, I when I was in Graduate School in International Studies, I had more intellectual confidence or more confidence in myself. And so I went back and got my undergraduate degree in psychology. I took a year and took a bunch of psychology courses and, uh, worked at a research lab for another year, and then I applied to Graduate School and that’s how I ended up, uh, in a psychology program at South Carolina.
00:05:34 BradleyOK, well that’s a good overview. Now, one thing that you brought up was you knew that you wanted to become a psychologist. In your book, you actually referred to and I’m not sure if this was based on the reality or just you know fiction, but I believe it does apply to you where, at one point one of the directors of the program of your first few classes, I think you had to go through four and at the beginning there, he was mentioning that some of you are going to go on and, and get your Ph.D. and then continue on and become a psychologist. Others are going to go into research, so how did you know or how did you decide knowing yourself that you wanted to become a practicing psychologist instead of a research psychologist?
00:06:23 GeraldYeah, it was actually a fairly difficult choice for me, but I did like the research part of psychology. I was really interested in some of the questions that academics ask and spend time researching, but really I always wanted to be a practicing psychologist working with people trying to help people. My, you know the, the way I found out what a psychologist did was from Phil Donahue. You’re maybe too young to, to remember.
00:06:51 BradleyNo, no, I know it.
00:06:54 GeraldBut yeah, he was, he was sort of the original Oprah Winfrey. And he brought. He would frequently bring psychologists on to either talk about a particular struggle people have, or to answer questions from the audience and, and that’s when I, I mean, you know. The growing up in the 60s in Charleston people did not talk about psychology or psychotherapy. And that’s where I realized it was such a thing as clinical psychologist, and I was fascinated listening to them talk about what they did and how they help people and what kinds of problems people came in with. And I thought that’s really what I want to do. I want to sit in a room and help people and listen to their life. And, and so the research thing was kind of a fling I, I, I got into that and enjoyed it, but I, I think all along I I sort of thought I was gonna head to opening my own practice.
00:07:54 BradleySo, it sounds like very early on you kind of had a good idea that hey, I want to do this and you want to open up your own business once you received your, ah, attained your Ph.D. and so it’s kind of…Everybody, as you said earlier, everybody has a different experience and so some people don’t realize that until later in their graduate careers, some of them will also figure that out earlier. So, based on my research and, and how many chapters I’ve read of your book, I believe you attended, you received your Master’s degree in Experimental Psychology at North Carolina, is that correct?
00:08:30 GeraldWell, that that actually had, that’s a that’s a fictional component to that.
00:08:33 BradleyOK, all right.
00:08:34 GeraldYeah, I I actually the, the year after getting my undergraduate degree in psychology, I worked in a research lab and did a lot of statistical work, and so I, I sort of characterized it that way in the book ’cause that actually helped me get into Graduate School. The fact that I was a very confident researcher and actually worked with a lot of the graduate students and faculty helping them design or conduct their statistical experimental analyses. But the, the program at South Carolina at the time, and it may still be this way, didn’t have a master’s. At the end of two years, you did a comprehensive review of the literature in some area, research area, and you presented that you wrote that and a faculty, a few faculty members would read it, and then you would present that and they’ve asked you questions about it and pass or fail you, and that was sort of the equivalent of the master’s, but I think the thinking was they didn’t want people to get a masters and then leave.
00:09:45 BradleyRight.
00:09:46 GeraldYou know, they, they saw it more at that time they saw it more as we, we won’t, we’re putting out Ph.Ds. and that particular program, at that time, at least, didn’t want terminal master’s.
00:10:03 BradleyWell, that makes more sense now that I’m looking at my little cheat sheet here and my notes and, and how much I’ve read of the book. How did you choose…I, I didn’t see in the book or, or read any place else, how did you choose to attend the University of South Carolina for your Ph.D.?
00:10:22 GeraldYeah, it was more a geographical desirability. I was already there working in that lab and you know had met some faculty and really liked a couple of them and knew what kind of research they were doing and. Basically knew them as people and really liked them, and that was important to me, and so I really didn’t even apply anywhere else. I was planning if I didn’t get in, I was going to stay another year in that lab ’cause I was being paid there. Uh, and then apply to 10 or 12 places or whatever, but I did get in and so I, but this is really based on the people and the kind of work they were doing and, and, and I was already living there and so it was desirable to just stay there.
00:11:12 BradleyIt, it, it’s almost like it was meant to be you. You just applied to one and you enjoyed yourself there and wanted to continue. Back when you were attending, did they even offer a Psy.D. in the program?
00:11:23 GeraldNo, they didn’t. I had not heard of a Psy.D. ’cause you know the book, of course, is fiction starts more in the late 80s. I started Graduate School in the early 80s. I, I didn’t hear about Psy.Ds. until probably towards the end of my Graduate School. You started hearing there was one in New Jersey. I think Rutgers had one that had a good reputation and, and then they started popping up in other places where I started hearing hearing about him in other places. So, it wasn’t a consideration of mine, I didn’t even know about it
00:11:57 BradleyWell, it’s interesting. You know it’s grown in popularity and, and not only popularity, but you know, credential and integrity and, and you know a lot of our audience members want to ask and, and have me ask “well, how does, how does your guest decide between going the Psy.D. route and the Ph.D. route?” And, you know, off the top of your head, what are some of your thoughts on how can someone decide if they want to go the Psy.D. versus the Ph.D. route?
00:12:25 GeraldWell, let me say I also see it as a totally legitimate credential within. In our practice, the 32 psychotherapist, almost all of them are psychologists, and probably at least 1/3 have Psy.Ds. and, and I there’s really no difference in how they, not only how they function about how they think, Uh, and and the, the, the kind of work they do. I, I would say you know my, my thoughts are if, if you know for sure you want to be a practitioner, the Psy.D. is just as good as the Ph.D.. If you think there’s a chance you might want to go into academics. Or even go in academics the Ph.D. might be somewhat better, but then I have a friend who’s very successful full professor who has a Psy.D., you know. So, it’s not doesn’t even preclude that, but you do get more immediate or, or year in and year out, you get more research experience, which I think probably a lot of people don’t want to get the Ph.D. for that reason. But if you do have considerations for, you know, working in consulting or uh, academia, the Ph.D. might be slightly better choice, but I really don’t, that’s not, that’s just my opinion. I don’t have a lot of experience with that.
00:13:52 BradleyNo problem. As you can see, I’m sharing your screen with…
00:13:55 GeraldYeah, yeah.
00:13:56 BradleyYou know your, your business and you have over 30 clinicians. And as you mentioned, some of them have Psy.Ds., some have Ph.Ds. and then you have all the others that have different credentials as well. But, it’s a good transition talking about, you know, your business. And, and number one is a lot of people look at the name of the business Powers Ferry as…well, your name isn’t Powers or Ferry and…and if you look deeper into it, I think you came up with that name based on the original location in Marietta, right So, it’s interesting and, and so how did you know?
00:14:29 GeraldYeah, Yeah, well.
00:14:32 BradleyAnd when did you know that you wanted to, you know, start your own business. Was it during grad school? Or when did you kind of figure out, hey, I want to do this and then obviously I I’ll switch screens here. And here’s Dina and I’m going to…
00:14:47 GeraldThat’s my wife.
00:14:48 Bradley…I’m going to try to pronounce her last name, Zeckhausen?
00:14:51 GeraldPerfect yeah.
00:14:52 BradleyGood, yes so. It’s interesting to, to read the book and I I try to figure out as I was telling you before we started this interview. I’m trying to figure out what which one is. Is the one that you mentioned in the book and I won’t spoil it, but I, I think I know who it is, but tell me, tell me you, you said that you met her in grad school and, and tell me a little bit. More about that and then was it both of your ideas to start the company and the practice or how did that idea come about?
00:15:22 GeraldYeah so. I, I just quickly I, I tell people never name your business after the street that you’re on because you might open up another location.
00:15:31 BradleyRight.
00:15:31 GeraldBut it’s kind of stuck and the Powers Ferry is a main road here in Atlanta that goes for a long way, but I, I met Dina in when I was ABD and she was a probably a third- or fourth-year student. That’s a little different than is in the book. Um, for Ally in the book. But yeah, we, we so we moved to Atlanta because she started, she was, I was finished and she was, I had finished my Ph.D., and she was doing her clinical internship at the Georgia State Counseling Center which she really liked. And she wanted to. It was one of the places that we were considering. We wanted to stay close to Columbia because my son was going to be living in Columbia that year. Uh, he was, uh, probably about five or six when we moved to Atlanta, he ended up a year later. Moving here has what my ex-wife and had moved here, and we continued with joint custody. But anyway, we wanted to stay somewhat close to Columbia and Atlanta is a 3- or 4-hour trip from Columbia and so she chose Georgia State and I went to work for a practice in Marietta. And the practice and then Dina joined the next year after she finished her internship, she had her Ph.D. and she joined. And the practice was not run the way we wanted to run it. It wasn’t there. There were problems we found in the way that the administrative staff were treated. It was just not the kind of practice we wanted to be a part of and I was in supervision then with a guy who, who had been in practice for 30 or 40 years. And he encouraged me, you know, you’re not happy where you are. Go create something you know and, and we’re both nervous about it because you know we’re going to be losing our income but we, we did it and a lot of our clients came with us. We located 7 or 8 miles away from where we were because we had no compete clause that we had to, uh, but we, you know, we started to practice and almost immediately the thing my supervisor had said is that kind of positive energy that you’ll have leaving and creating your own thing. It’ll blossom, you know. And, and I, we believed him and we did, and it did. And you know, it was good advice.
00:18:09 BradleyWell, it sounds like it. I’m, I’m sharing the screen again and, and I’m sharing the home page this time because you have a nice picture here of most everybody. I would imagine they’re on here and then.
00:18:17 GeraldYeah, yeah.
00:18:18 BradleyHere you are right in the middle. And then Dina right next to you and then all of the clinicians. And as you can see on the website here you have Buckhead, Marietta, Canton, and then South Forsyth…is that how you pronounce it?
00:18:32 GeraldRight. Correct, yeah.
00:18:34 BradleyYep, so how did you determine when it was time to create other locations? I mean that, you know you’re, you’re wearing multiple hats. You’re a clinician, you love doing that, but you’re also a supervisor, a business manager. When you first started out, you and your partners probably had to come up with the advertising and, and figure out what to do there. So, at what point did you know that it was time to expand and open up other locations?
00:19:03 GeraldYeah, well, I think this will be a theme throughout when you ask about anything to do with my practice. It’s usually organic the way things happen. We, Dina and I lived in Buckhead and our practice was in Marietta and when we had our first child together, we were going to be working less. Each of us were going to be working less. And so, we thought, well, one way to do it is to locate the to get another office right by our house, and basically we opened an office about a half a mile from our house so we could come back and forth a lot easier to be with our kids and their nanny. And that’s, so that’s how the Buckhead office opened up. And we added a few people at the Buckhead office and then we had, we were full and we had a woman who wanted to join our practice from Texas. And so, we didn’t have any offices available full time, so she practiced in Marietta half time, and we opened up the office in Canton so we would have room for her there. And we got a few people there and. Uh, really the, the, the way South Forsyth came about us, we had a psychologist working in Buckhead who lived in South Forsyth. And she would drive in every day to Buckhead, which was a 45-minute drive. And she started having back problems and she said I’m going to have to locate. We need something out here so we actually purchased a small building out there and then we fill that one up and that’s sort of the, the story on how, and it’s just. We’ve basically, you know, the 32 now. We’ve probably added one a year for 32 years. It’s not quite that, but that’s pretty much how it evolved.
00:20:50 BradleyWell, that’s a good background on how each of them came and, and it’s organic growth, and it was actually a convenience factor for a lot of your clinicians as well, so it worked out well for everybody involved.
00:21:02Yeah yeah, yeah.
00:21:07 BradleyI’m going to go back to your experiences at USC. I know. Well, I, I shouldn’t say, I know, but based on what I’ve read in the book I, I can probably tell what some of your fondest memories are while attending, but I, I want to ask you ’cause some of it might be fiction in the book, but what were some of your fondest memories when attending USC?
00:21:29 GeraldYeah, I’d say the top thing is the relationships I had with people. There, there was really. There were a few professors there, you know that I, I dedicated my book to several of them who were outstanding human beings that I got to hang around with for several years. And learn from not only about how to be a therapist, but, but also how to be an adult and how to conduct your life and, and so really the, the, the people that some of the students. Uh, uh, there was a there was a bar that was right down the street from the Psychological Services Center, but a lot of the graduate students from a lot of different programs hung out in school yesterday and I, I had some of my best time sitting having a beer talking to people from different disciplines, different graduate programs and just about, you know, what they were learning, and you know just, and having fun. And I, I really had a great time in Graduate School. I, I that’s one reason I wrote the book is, for me, it was a primary part of my life and an important part of my life.
00:22:46 BradleyWell, I told you before we started recording that I, I really am enjoying the book. I’m about a third of the way through and you mentioned that you did acknowledge and, and dedicate some of the and mentioned some of the professors and I’m sharing the acknowledgements page of the book right now and, and here are the professors that you, you wanted to acknowledge here in, in Herman Salzberg. Bob Heckle, Randy Engle, and Bob Deysach?…(die sock)…there you go.
00:23:16 GeraldDeysach (die sock).
00:23:19 BradleySo yeah, it, it sounds like those were critical people in your life at the time. And, and are, are you still in touch with most of them?
00:23:28 GeraldI have been actually through the book, uh, you know, in the book when, when I published the book, I sent him a copy and I’ve talked to Bob Heckle who is, by the way, Ed in the book.
00:23:31 BradleyOK.
00:23:41 GeraldI don’t know if you’ve gotten that far, but he, he is now. He, he died a couple of years ago. I, I spent a little bit of time with him right before he died. He, he was he was in his uh, he was 91 I think when he died but, uh, those guys have gotten older. Randy Engle was actually a professor at Georgia Tech and a very well-known psychologist now and they’re all great guys. And yeah, yeah, appreciate you sharing them.
00:24:12 BradleyYep, and, and Ed was actually the first of the four that you introduced in the book, as I recall. He was the Co-director of the clinical training at, in the book, Georgia University and it brings up the next question that I have for you is, based on the book and I’m not sure if this was reality for you or not, but Ed mentioned that only eight out of the 400 applicants were selected for the Ph.D. program. And that’s when he mentioned only about 50% of them have a “mix of personality and emotional and intellectual skills to be good clinicians.” The other half of the students will go on into research or teaching, and so that’s kind of where I, I got that from. Was that based on reality? Were there actually 400 applicants or, or um…?
00:25:02 GeraldYeah, I. I mean I picked 400, maybe somewhere between 300 and 500 because I was involved as a student and helping select graduate students. Uh, and years after that for a couple of years I was on a committee that scored some of the applicants and we always got several 100. A lot, some of those wouldn’t be completed applications, some wouldn’t have certain numbers to reach criteria, but usually about you usually we’re in, end up with about 100 solid applications that met criteria. And then, and then, the professors would rate them on a lot of different things and come up with eight or ten graduate students that that they wanted to select.
00:25:50 BradleySo very competitive. I know when I applied for my master’s and my doctorate as well, it was competitive as well. You had to put your best foot forward. So, with that in mind, what are some things to consider or any advice that you would have to students if they wanted to go on for their master’s or their doctorate degree? So, any advice that you would have for them.
00:26:15 GeraldWell, you know essentially I, I just got through going through this with…my son is getting his Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology at Georgia Tech now. So I just went through kind of watching him apply and, and how that whole process worked, and I think more than ever they want to see some really serious undergraduate research, you know, where you’ve worked with a faculty member and maybe even gotten your name on a publication or something you know which is, you know really, is pretty intense what they expect an undergraduate student to have come up with. Uh, but yeah, I think you, you want to get involved with an undergraduate professor that will be your advocate. You want to you definitely and, and at least in most programs, not all master’s counseling type programs, but in most master’s and Ph.D. programs, they’re going to want to see that you’ve done some research. And, and the more traditional academic a program is, the more they’re going to want that kind of research done. I think they’re also looking for life experience and, and people to be able to communicate with them, both written and, and when they talk to them, if they do interviews, in a way that’s ah that shows maturity and you know, uh, so I think, I think I saw that you, you, you’ve done some training for people in public speaking and stuff like…am I right about that?
00:27:51 BradleyYeah, Yep, exactly right.
00:27:52 GeraldI, I think that people getting that level of skill. Uh, again, both written but also verbal skills for if they are interviewed and a lot of places were doing that more than they did it when I was going through the process but you know they want to hear that you can talk. You know that you can that you’re confident enough to, and I you know. Again, I think that’s very tough for a 22-year-old or 23- or 4-year-old to be talking to a Ph.D. you know in a video interview and be confident. But the. But I have my impression is these kids these days are, are, are, are actually pretty good at that sort of thing. But it is. I think it’s a critical skill to have too.
00:28:39 BradleyWell, good, I know that some of you are, you know, talking about experience. I saw that you were you did your clinical internship at Medical University of, I think it was, South Carolina.
00:28:50 GeraldSouth Carolina, yeah.
00:28:51 BradleyTell us how you found that opportunity and tell us a little bit more of what you got and how that helped you.
00:28:57 GeraldYeah, well I wanted again. I you know, because my son was at that time probably three or four or five. I don’t remember exactly how old he was, but I wanted to stay close enough to him, so I applied in a regional sort of situation and I wanted to go to a Medical University. I had had a pretty good bit of experience. I’ve worked in a prison which is in the book and I had worked at a Youth Services doing assessments of kids that have committed crime and crimes, and I’ve done through outpatient stuff at a university counseling center, but I wanted more uh inpatient psychiatry. And uh, a little more medicalized, I wanted to do sort of, you know, I wanna, I hoped to work in an emergency room and you know, see a variety of different types of people and Medical University really gives you that uh, experience and South Carolina was, Medical University of South Carolina, was a good choice and had a great year there and met a lot of great people. I’m still in contact with a few of them and uh, but that that you know it was, it was really just the variety of experience and the geographic desirability.
00:30:19 BradleyWell, in terms of experience, I’m going to share my screen one more time well, probably more than one more time, but I’ll share it again here. And, and here’s your opportunity to tell us how is your business. How is powers Ferry psychological associates different from others? I see that on. Let’s go right here. Let’s make sure that I am sharing here. Yep, I think we’re on the right one on the left side. Here you see services. And as I mentioned in the intro, you have assessment, psychotherapy and then special services. Even down to Spanish speaking therapists and other things. So how is your practice different from others?
00:31:02 GeraldWell, I think you know, uh, in a lot of ways. For one, we as I said, we added organically. And we’re really a group of equals rather than, uh, top-down kind of thing. We describe ourselves to, when we’re interviewing prospective therapists to join the practice as, as much a Co-op as a business so every person pays in our practice into the overhead based on what they use. So if you use an office two days a week, you pay two fifths of what that office cost is. So it really, you know a lot of practice is to take an arbitrary percentage from their therapist or they pay him a salary and the people at the top are making significant amount of money off of the therapist. Uh, that’s not the way we do things and and we also have added people based on what we didn’t have in a lot of cases so that we really fill out the, there’s very few people that uh, that need of a specialty that we don’t have because we’ve been very and we’ve all. We also interview based on do we like and trust this person more so than looking at them as a resume? We really. I mean we do. We do talk to their, you know, previous employers or other people they’ve been affiliated with, but we really are looking for people we like, trust and still bring. Bring something unique to the practice, and so I mean, we’ve, we’ve really filled our practice with people who are good people, and we’ve had almost no problems, uh interpersonally with people. We also began maybe 10 or 15 years ago getting really good at hiring administrators and we see what we do is we hire administrators and we see them the way we see our clients as a work in progress people to grow. We, we hired a person at the very bottom level. Who now has just finished her master’s. She’s going to be an LPC and join our practice after she does an internship but she started as a receptionist. And she’s now she, she became our business manager. But while she was doing that, she was getting her master’s in counseling psychology. So we’re, we’re, you know, we really see we really see ourselves as a community, a healthy community. And shockingly, a lot of practices aren’t run that way.
00:34:07 BradleyYeah, I, I like your approach and I could tell based on the growth that you mentioned and then just looking at the, uh, all of the experience from all the different clinicians on there as well. Back in, I think it was 1989, you co-founded the business with uh and, and one thing that that came to mind for me is, you know, what were some of the biggest challenges associated with starting the business? I know that you kind of mentioned one already Dr. Drose was that you, you weren’t satisfied and you didn’t like the way where you were working how that was run and you wanted to do your own thing. And so that’s one thing. But what were some of the challenges that were associated with starting a business?
00:34:53 GeraldWell, you know of course you have to rent a place so you have to figure out how to do that. Uh, which is pretty easy, but the, the main challenge is finding out, getting administrators and we only had one at the time, but that you can trust to handle the billing of for insurance companies ’cause some of us were a lot of us in this practice do a lot of insurance billing. Uhm, so you have to have somebody that does that competently. Then you have to have somebody that does deposits and you know there’s a lot of, uh accounting kinds of things that I don’t have any expertise in and still don’t. Uh, you know, uh again, we have a business manager that does a lot of that. We have an insurance specialist and a couple of other people that do work with it, but. Yeah, the, the, the hardest thing for me in the first 10 years, uh, was figuring out the relationship with administrators. As I said, I want them to grow and be thrilled with their job. And, you know, be in a good situation for themselves and their family. But I also found that there’s sort of if you’re too close to them it, it, it becomes sort of a dual relationship or it muddies the water in terms of how much you can do as a supervisor of them and, and so the first 10 years was sort of working that out and it wasn’t, it was an uneven process.

So, my wife and I started Powers Ferry. We were then joined by Steve Perlow, who had a practice in Chicago and came down and joined us and he has become a, he and I manage the practice, so he and I worked on this administrative thing. And, you know, have 30 years of experience now doing it and you want to be close and caring and have that community thing. But you also are their supervisor and so you don’t want them to get too. Oh, uh. You don’t want it to be a situation where you can’t confront and can’t uh, supervise them and help them grow. You know you have to be critical sometimes, and some of the same skills I teach people in couples therapy. Uh, how to put in, put in the positives so that you can bring up the negative and if you put in enough positives then negatives, don’t sting as much. That’s sort of one of the models we use with the administrator. If you think something positive about them, speak it and that’s sort of what you know, I tell couples that if you think your wife or husband looks good tell them don’t just think it. You know if you think they said something funny, you know and you laugh, you know underscore it by saying then you’re funny. And now or so you know, putting that positive rather than just thinking it.
00:37:54 BradleyNo, that’s good advice. Yeah, great advice. So, I we’re going to switch to the book now. As I mentioned, “Bird Gotta Land: The Education of a Young Psychologist”, which in my own words here, based on the probably 6-7 chapters that I’ve gone into the book, it’s about one man, one man’s personal and professional development or journey. On the other hand, we learn more about the protagonist and a graduate, a graduate student in clinical psychology, and we learn more about the characters, and at the very beginning there were seven other, you know, grad students in that program. And then, of course, we learned more about the professors there. But it’s kind of interesting to see how everything has been transformative and, and moving not only on a personal, you know level, but on an academic or your, your academic journey. Tell us why you wrote it. You mentioned a little bit earlier, but tell us why you wrote this and, and just for the listeners and, and the, you know, the readers of the book. I read somewhere where you actually started writing this book in 1996, so it, it slowly, you know you slowly added everything to it. So, tell us why you wrote it.
00:39:06 GeraldYeah, well, when I was in Graduate School, I had the original idea to write it, which was in the mid 80s. So, a long time ago I, I, I thought that the experience was fascinating, but the, uh, that learning to help people is actually a little more complicated than you might think, and I wanted to show how that, uh, how, how that process worked. I, I, I also wanted to tell the sort of a love story of my wife and I meeting in Graduate School. And, and, and I wanted to show, uh, a process of a person going from where I think a lot of people live, which is sort of a little detached a little, a little shut down or cut off. Going from that to somebody who’s fully present and alive. Uh, mindful is the, the description that people use now, and I think that’s sort of what the character does is, is, is go from sort of a detached sort of lost. He’s gone through a divorce. Parents have gone through a divorce. It’s a little bit lost he’s, you know, smoking pot to try to feel a little better, you know and kind of, you know, trying to find himself and, and he does in the in the book and I think I did in my graduate experience, uh, go through that and, and I wanted to be able to show that.
00:40:50 BradleyWell, you kind of answered my next question. You know parts of it are fictional, parts are based on real life. I believe the target audience is, is younger students and professors, maybe in their 20s and 30s. And what were, I was going to ask, what were your hopes for this novel, and how would it benefit them? You kind of answered a little bit, but that’s more of a targeted question.
00:41:12 GeraldYeah, yeah.
00:41:13 BradleyAnything to add.
00:41:14 GeraldWell, I would say, uh, I want I, I the target for me is psychotherapist because it, it does look at supervision and a way to conceptualize clients. You haven’t gotten to it yet, but uh, narrative therapy. Model of how to understand what people are going through and the kind of obstacles they face to changing, and how people get stuck and how you can help get them get unstuck. So that, that really is a meditation or a discussion of psychotherapy. And I think it’s also been good. I’ve had some of my clients have read it and have felt like it was really good for them to understand their own process of change. So I say it’s good for people going through psychotherapy, but really, if it if it was a super targeted group it would be I think your audience actually people who are thinking about going in Graduate School and kinda wanna. Uh, sort of live vicariously through someone who’s already done it. As well as people who are in it that might want to, it might help them reflect on their own experience, but that really those, those were the people I really thought about while I was writing it, but the, the narrative therapy part of it and the some of the ways the clients were conceptualized in the book that was also important to me for therapists.
00:42:45 BradleyIt’s interesting that you mentioned the narrative because in Chapter 2, I’m sharing my screen, Ed the main, the first professor that we are introduced to in the book says that “I describe my orientation to therapy and supervision as narrative and aesthetic.” “So, what do I mean by narrative and aesthetic? For me, psychotherapy is the process of helping the client gradually live a deeper and sometimes improved version of their life by helping them learn to adapt to new, much more creative stories of their life. It’s this new, creative story that makes up the narrative aesthetic.” “This will become clearer with time.” So it’s, it’s, it’s almost as if it has come to fruition for you and all of your clinicians because you’re trying to develop that narrative with your clients as well. So, I found that you know, even before you know, getting ready for this interview, I highlighted that because I, I think that’s important more and more, uh, psychotherapists and, and take that approach instead of just here’s question 1-2-3-4. Let’s try to diagnose right away and get down to it, and there’s so many things I could bring up about the book, but I know that we have about 5-10 more minutes left, so I wanted to get to a couple other key questions here. Number one is, you already recognized in the acknowledgements four or five of those professors…if they happen to watch or listen to this podcast, what would you like to say to them?
00:44:18 GeraldOh wow, well I said it there in the acknowledgements but and I said it when we talked about them. But you know they, they through, through watching them as people, but also interacting with them, not only in classes, but uh, playing sports with them, and hang out with them and so they, they, they helped me not only as a psychologist, but become really a different sort of man than I would have been. I, I think the, well, the, the uniqueness of those four guys is how incredibly open they were as people, uh. And, uh, just authentic and available connected people. And, you know, I, this, that was unique. I mean, I have been around a little of that growing up, you know and but, but just to see people living fully complete lives, uh? Not being held back by ah different beliefs, they had, you know, I got to see that watching them and it changed me, you know?
00:45:27 BradleyWell, thank you I, I, I found the discussion questions at the end of the book very interesting because you could view them in two, one of two ways. Number one, use for a book club discussion, you know? Or, I also found some of them could be used for self-reflection and awakening for the reader ’cause you do kind of ask some of those poignant questions. How would this apply to you? You know, reflect on what you’re going through in your life now. And so, I found it interesting that some of those questions could be seen in both those. I’m going to bring you down memory lane for a second. In chapter one, you actually mention an old car that you had and I don’t know if this is real or fiction, but it was a 1969 Karmann, is it pronounced Ghia convertible?
00:46:09 GeraldIt’s real. Karmann Ghia…you don’t remember those.
00:46:16 BradleyI,I, I don’t remember them as probably as well as you do, but I’m going to share my screen. And I did a little research on there and back in 1969, you said it was about a 20-year-old, so it would have been about a ‘69 right here. Do you remember what color it was?
00:46:32 GeraldIt was green. It was that…I saw it on there.
00:46:36 BradleyOK, so it’s probably on here, it’s probably.
00:46:38 GeraldYeah, so one. It was the second one. Yeah, that’s the exact car.
00:46:40 BradleyYeah, right here. There you go.
00:46:44 GeraldThat car served me well.
00:46:46 BradleyWell, good, I, I did also find out if you had this in good or, or excellent condition now it would be anywhere from $18 to $25,000.
00:46:55 GeraldI know I would love to have that car.
00:46:57 BradleyMy dad actually had an MG and old MG convertible, which is very similar to this, so I, I wanted to share that.
00:47:01 GeraldOh, wow yeah, yeah, very, very similar.
00:47:06 BradleySo no, I love some of the older cars. Uhm, I, I saw one. So far in the chapters that I’ve seen, I’ve seen a couple of things coming out. One is the symbolism of birds. Excuse me, birds appears throughout the novel so far, and then as well as the prison metaphor, and so can you speak to either one of those why you incorporated those?
00:47:29 GeraldWell, the, the prison. So, you’ve gotten to the prison chapter so, so the prison metaphor, the whole the the client that’s in prison or the patient that’s in prison is in a psychiatric unit prison, uh, and it’s a metaphor for he’s stuck in this. It’s a metaphor and a true story or reality. He’s stuck in this prison because he, he, when he comes up for parole, he goes crazy. He becomes very psychotic. He’s psychotic throughout, but he becomes more psychotic. And uh the notion is he, he can’t imagine a life on the outside because and, and this is based on a true story, he killed his cousin and from a really small town in South Carolina and, uh, so he can’t go home. And if he can’t go home and, and he’s from this little rural town, a farm town, he, he doesn’t know he doesn’t, he can’t imagine a life outside of the prison. And so many people. People who come in for therapy frequently change and leave and or, or stay and try to change other things. But some are stuck. And you’ll find when you read further, Stephen, the protagonist in the book, is stuck too. He’s just stuck in something different. He stuck finishing his dissertation and stuff, blocking him from finishing, but people that actually get stuck need the therapist to not just give them little ways to get unstuck, but actually try to transform their narrative from feeling like these obstacles are so big. You know being in a prison. To being free and imagining what it’s like to be free, there’s always something that people are afraid of, not only afraid of the, the change or afraid of whatever obstacles right in front of them. They’re also afraid of life after that obstacle. Some you know you know the fear of success and the fear of failure are usually there on, for both, there for people and so you know the prison is sort of a, a metaphor for being stuck.

The bird thing, you know, the poem by Kurt Vonnegut, which is a, is a is. It’s about human nature. Animal nature, you know, I’ll go ahead and say it bird gotta bird gotta. “Tiger got to hunt, bird gotta fly; Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’ Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.” And so you know psychotherapy is about landing or, or becoming mindful is about landing for me. Uh, just as a man has to tell himself he understand. And when you kind of feel like you understand, even if it’s a myth that you understand but you tell yourself you understand you become mindful, you become more centered. You become this thing that we all want for ourselves and so bird gotta land I took from that poem and, uh and, and the birds showing up are related to that but also I, I think you know you can walk out here. I guess squirrels are like this too, but anywhere you go you see birds. They’re all around us all the time and we just there are these wild creatures that are, and to me they, if you watch them, they are fully present. They have to be, of course, and one of the things that I think psychotherapy has directed itself to and successfully so is helping people become more present.
00:51:23 BradleyI, I do have a follow up question, last question about the book and then I’ll ask a couple other kind of fun questions that I usually ask most of my guests. Early in the book, I can’t remember what chapter but Stephen, the protagonist in the book, recalls his father’s advice. One advice, at that point in the book, was the spinning top analogy. You know once you, you get the top knocked off center. The wobbling top is more easy to be knocked over. Is that based on fiction or did your father actually give you that advice?
00:51:57 GeraldWell, that was actually Dan, one of the characters in the book. His father’s advice to him and that was the idea of how to keep…his father, who was not a warm, loving person…uh, how to keep people off guard?
00:52:17 BradleyOK.
00:52:17 GeraldHow to, uh, basically how to stay in control of people.
00:52:23 BradleyOK, and the reason…
00:52:24 GeraldHis father was an entrepreneur, that you know.
00:52:26 BradleyRight, the reason that I brought that up is earlier you were saying that some people needed a nudge and I started to think that analogy could actually be, you know, applied in that situation as well, but you’re right. Thank you for correcting me. It was it was Dan’s father and he was just asking some questions just to get you off kilter a little bit at the beginning when you when you met him so some of the fun questions.
00:52:46 GeraldRight, right, right, right, right. That’s their off kilter and they go and they’re all off kilter and they feel wobbly…
00:52:52 BradleyYeah ahead, no, go ahead.
00:52:57 Gerald…Your, now you’re in control. You can move them, and that’s the that’s the that was a actually a an entrepreneur told me told me that about how, how he operated I, I would never operate that way, but it’s uh, but I get it.
00:53:15 BradleyRight, so I, I only have a few other questions here. I know that you have to get going, but one question that I, getting back to reality, not fiction or the book. But tell us what you love most about your job currently? What do you love?
00:53:28 GeraldYeah yeah, I, I, you know, I really. Psychology, psychotherapy. I’m really wired for it. Yeah, I’m a little ADD I can be all over the place at times and sitting one on one with somebody is perfect for me. There’s no distractions and I really I really like getting to know all these different people I get to know and hearing their stories and being involved and helping them create a better life. I mean, there’s, there’s almost nothing more gratifying than that, and you know, I get that feedback, sometimes not as much as I wish but people will either write me or they’ll be continuing to see me and just say it. You know, you’ve you’ve changed my life or this work has changed my life. It’s really not even me. I mean, I honestly, I do take some credit or but the one on one discussing someone’s life and reacting to them, it’s very gratifying on both sides, you know.
00:54:31 BradleyAs the, the teacher in me, I was a teacher for a number of years, I can relate to that when I see my students growing and seeing the light bulb and even having them come afterwards, years after I had them in my classes, say I remember you and you changed my life because of this and, and I understand how gratifying that can be. One fun question that I usually ask most of my guests is what is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?
00:55:00 GeraldWell, yeah. I, I, I’ll go back to the narrative therapy, uh, notion. The idea that our, uh, that the stories we live in our lives are, are have obstacles and opportunities that are, that are, that are kind of make believe. They’re based on our earlier stories or stuff we were taught in our families or stuff we learned and some experience growing up, and we believe, and therefore we live that story. And those stories usually work until they don’t. And the narrative therapy, you know, listens to the way people describe something completely different than…we normally listen what, what are they saying that are obstacles and are they really obstacles, you know? Is there really something that they’re describing in their life in their day-to-day life and their relationships and their work that, that, that’s just based on an old story instead of just taking it for face value. Oh, this happened to you and that’s and that kept you from doing this. That must be rough. You know. You might say that, but you’re also thinking, how can I help them see this a little differently so that it doesn’t stop them, you know? Anyway, that’s that, that model which I learned about in 1996, at the time I started writing my book, at a conference in Vancouver that, that model actually comes from a couple of guys in Australian New Zealand, who were at this conference, and it’s very powerful. It’s a very powerful way to think about your own life.
00:56:47 BradleyDo you have any other advice for those interested in the field of psychology or opening their own business or practice?
00:56:54 GeraldUh, no. I don’t think anything I haven’t already said. I think you, you, you do it and it’ll work. You know that that that if you if you really put yourself 100% into most anything, you can create it and the, the uh, and there’s such an incredible need for psychotherapy. I mean, the especially these days with the coronavirus and all this stuff, all the craziness that’s going on in our culture in the last five years, or whatever, uh, the, the need for psychotherapy has grown exponentially, really, and so there’s a need out there and just meet the need.
00:57:32 BradleyI remember seeing and reading in multiple occasions where you know you can’t really replace that one-on-one conversation even through though it’s you know might be through, you know, virtual like we’re doing now or in person. And you can’t really replace the one-on-one discussions and narrative as you you’ve been talking about. Is there anything else that you’d like to bring up or discuss on this podcast?
00:58:03 GeraldNo, if, if people listen to it and read the book and want to get in touch with me, you know, I, I, I think we’ll make we’ll make a email available to I love hearing, I’ve heard from lots of people that have read the book and it’s, it’s very, it’s very gratifying to hear people’s experience with it. And you know, I’d love to hear from you, Brad, and when you finish it, and I hope to hear from the people. And I’ve really enjoyed the interview. Thank you for asking some really good questions and great follow ups and I appreciate it.
00:58:35 BradleyWell, I really appreciate your willingness to be on the podcast and share your thoughts and advice and experiences. I will definitely follow up with you after I’m done reading the book. I, I am enjoying it so far. I, I love the stories and the anecdotes and, and the experiences that you’re sharing. I, I will definitely post this on our website as well and then the link and, and of course your, your other links to your practice as well and then links to Amazon and, and other places where you can find the book as well. But thanks again for sharing your time with us, um, I, I, I really appreciate everything that you’ve shared with us. Please stay in touch and I will be in touch with you shortly after I finish the book as well.
00:59:18 GeraldOK, well thanks Brad.
00:59:20 BradleyThank you and enjoy the game.
00:59:21 GeraldYeah, thank you. I hope to, yeah.
00:59:24 BradleyAll right.
Scroll to Top