Dr. Rhonda Goldman has known from a young age that she has always wanted to become a psychologist. Her mother was a psychologist, so she admits she “kind of had a little bit of a bird’s eye view” of the field of psychology. Dr. Goldman is a professor in the Clinical Psychology Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a licensed Clinical Psychologist in Illinois. In this podcast, Dr. Goldman discusses why she chose York University in Toronto, ON, Canada for her undergraduate degree and why she stayed at York University for her master’s and doctorate. She also reveals how exciting it was to work with Dr. Les Greenberg to further develop Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT).
Dr. Goldman has taken her passion for EFT and applied it to couples and individuals. She and other colleagues formed the Emotion-Focused Therapy Institute (EFTI) which facilitates and fosters training and educational opportunities for psychologists and therapists interested in incorporating EFT into their professional practices or expanding the types of therapy they use in their own practice. Dr. Goldman also discusses other organizations that may serve as a home for people interested in Emotion-Focused Therapy and those wanting to integrate EFT or other types of therapy into their repertoire of skills. In particular, she discusses how she became a founding board member of the International Society for Emotion Focused Therapy (isEFT) and its purpose. Dr. Goldman was a past-president of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI) and she discusses how this can serve as another resource or home for those who want to integrate other types of therapy into their practice.
During my discussion with Dr. Goldman, she admits that she was lucky in many ways. She was lucky in that she knew while she was an undergraduate that she wanted to be a psychotherapist. Some people don’t figure out what they want to do for a living, let alone knowing what major to declare in undergraduate or graduate school. She was also lucky to have found an exciting place to study, receive good mentorship, and an exciting field of study at York University. She also mentioned that she was lucky because she graduated with her PhD with little to no debt. She said that she would hear stories of people graduating and “paying back debt for years and years” and said that wasn’t her experience as there are many opportunities and agencies to help fund your education in Canada.
When asked if there was anything she wished she had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing her career path, Dr. Goldman said she wished she had known that psychology “is so diverse” and that “there’s so much you can do with a degree, especially in clinical psychology.” She then proceeded to list some of the things you can do including applied psychology, therapy, research, and neuropsychology. She states “I wish I knew how much there was to offer, I mean, and I think that’s why you have what you’re doing [the Master’s in Psychology Podcast and website] is trying to help people sort through all that psychology has and try to find their track within it, right? And so, I think that’s really great, because people need some guidance, I think along those line because there is so much out there.”
Interests and Specializations
Dr. Rhonda Goldman focuses on Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and individuals. She conducts research on EFT for couples, emotional processes, empathy, and vulnerability as well as work on case formulation and the dynamics of emotion, love, and power. She travels internationally providing training workshops for mental heal professionals who want to incorporate EFT into their professional practices.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Psychology (1987); York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Master of Arts (M.A.), Psychology (1991); York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Clinical Psychology (1997); York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Other Sources and Links of Interest
Welcome 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. Rhonda Goldman to the show. Dr. Goldman is a professor in the Clinical Psychology department at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She runs a private practice, Emotion Focused Therapy, Chicago where she works with both individuals and couples. She is also involved with the Emotion Focused Therapy Institute (EFTI) and is past-president of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI). Today, we will learn more about her academic journey and get a better understanding of Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT). Dr. Goldman, welcome to our podcast.
Thank you. Thank you, Brad. Thank you for having me.
I’m excited to talk to you about Emotion-Focused Therapy or EFT. But first, can you tell us, do you remember the first time you became interested in psychology?
Yeah, uhm, well, of course it goes way back, and it goes all the way back to high school days. I can remember sitting in psychology class with our teacher talking about psychology and experimenting and. I just thought it sounded so cool, so cool.
And, and I know ever since then, you know, you actually received all of your degrees, and it’s, it’s rare you’re my first guest, actually, now I’m thinking out loud, that has received their undergrad and graduate degrees at the same university, so you attended York University in Toronto, ON Canada. How did you choose York University?
Yeah, no. It’s, it’s interesting that you point that out because I, I mean along the way, you know, I went to York initially grew up in in Canada, in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and at that point I was attracted to York as an undergraduate ’cause it had such a good reputation. And this, like you know, for psychology and, and as I said, I really knew what I wanted to do very early on you, you know. I was, I was lucky, I considered myself lucky in that way that I was so kind of clear about that from an early age, and that that hasn’t really ever waned. Uhm so anyway, I, I wanted to go to York because they had this reputation for having a great psychology program, so I went there for undergrad. And then, you know, and people would say along the way well, you know maybe you should look at other programs for Graduate School and because, you know, you don’t want to do all your degrees at the same university, but the thing is that I found so much there and then it was like even better for graduate work, you know, it had a, the graduate program was considered, you know, the top clinical psychology program in the country at that point and, and so I was like, OK, and then, you know that, that I knew people and, and then I knew I was going to receive good mentorship and that was so important. So, I just stayed really, it was, it was a very exciting place to study. I was, I got really lucky.
Well, it sounds like it and, and you’re not the only one. I remember my advisors in undergrad and grad school saying no, you should expand and explore and attend other colleges and universities and it doesn’t look good if you stay at the same one. I doubt that you, I never, when I applied for jobs, nobody ever said “Brad, I noticed you went to the same university for all of your…”
You know I; I don’t think anybody said that to you either, right?
No, no, no. I mean, they sometimes ask me about, about it like you are but, but they’re not nobody sort of questions that yeah, yeah.
Right, right now it’s interesting that you brought that up ’cause it, you know, there are advantages and disadvantages of staying at the same university, but you already pointed out some of the advantages is you felt comfortable, you knew the staff, and you knew the faculty and you knew that you would receive good mentorship. And so that’s the reason. Now, when you did go through your masters and your doctorate at York University, tell us how the funding works there. If somebody is interested ’cause we rarely have guests that talk about Canadian, you know, universities. In the United States, when you go for your PhD, it’s more likely that you are going to get some sort of funding.
Or, or, you know, tuition reimbursement or waiver or something. Tell us a little bit more about how it works in Canada.
OK, so I mean it’s been a while since I was there, but I’ll say this. You know, Canadian universities are typically, tuition wise, they’re typically not as, the tuitions are not as high as they are in the United States, right? So that’s now if you’re paying international fees, that increases, but, but in general, you know, it’s so it wasn’t so the tuition wasn’t so crazy at the time. Uhm, but also you can apply for scholarships, and I got some scholarships, and you know and through Graduate School I did teaching assistantships, research assistantships uhm, and I basically was able to. I, I had my, my experience, my educational experience funded so it wasn’t like at the graduate level, I wasn’t paying out. Uhm, so one can do that. Canada has some good scholarship agencies that you can apply to, as a matter of fact, and you can get funding. Uhm, you know, it’s not a guarantee, I understand that but, but yeah, it wasn’t it didn’t. It didn’t break me. You know, I hear these stories of people also like finishing Graduate School and just paying back debt for years and years and that was not my experience. I got really lucky in that way as well.
Well, it sounds like it and, and you’re exactly right. Some people, depending on if they’re even aware of some of those ways to offset some of the tuition, a TA or a GA or you know anything along those lines they might not even be aware. I remember talking to one of my guests and he wasn’t even aware of the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist until he started talking with people, he thought that, uh, he should just go one route and then, all of a sudden, oh, this this exists and that that seems.
Yeah, that seems more appropriate for what, what I’d like to do, and so, uhm, the other thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize too, Dr. Goldman, is that if you go to a terminal master’s program or attend a terminal master’s program, usually you don’t get as much funding for that versus a doctorate, at least in the United States here.
And so, I just wanted to share that with our audience, ’cause that’s something that they might not be aware of. You mentioned earlier that you knew from very early on. I want to do psychology. You’re probably not the, there’s probably a large portion that we are in the same boat, but I would suspect that there might be a larger portion that don’t know that, and so do you have any advice to those who are considering entering the psychology field and, and how would they help determine if it’s right for them.
Well, you know something else that I would recommend is when you’re in your undergraduate program, uhm, go out and talk to professors as much as possible. You know, I would also say that the connections that I made with people, the mentorship that I received was, is, you know, has been really fundamental for me in building my career. Uhm, and so, and, and the other thing, I would also say and, and this fits in with me being in emotion-focused therapy is that I’m very experiential, right? I learn through experiences and, and, I, I sort of often will set myself up to have experiences and so then and just see you know, see what I what I like and, and so what I’d say is when you’re an undergraduate and, and by the way, this is only going to help you in the long run if, once you’re applying to schools, is go to people’s labs and, you know, volunteer if you need to, uhm, and, and do the work with them. You know, as much as possible, get to know a professor. Get to know professors. Do the work, in their lab work and, you know, volunteer to have these experiences and just sort of see how does this work. And is this what I want to do? Because you know, like research is a part of it too, and some people like research and some people like research less and some people want to emphasize more on the clinical piece. And, and you know, I get that I, I, I like both. Uhm, I can talk about how I evolved in that way, but. But uhm, you know, and I teach at a school right now, that’s, that’s more clinically focused. You know, that’s, we can talk about that as well. But I would say like if you’re asking me the question of like, what should people do to try to prepare or trying to decide is just try to have these experiences as much as possible. And see what you like and get a behind the scenes look at how it works and, and then you can decide whether this is something you want to pursue.
Very good advice. Get out. Uh, either volunteer or apply to help out with the labs. I, I talked to somebody else online who is outside of the United States and she’s trying to apply for Graduate School in the United States, and she shared that most of the universities were asking her to have more lab experience. Her reply was. Well, where I am from, India, we don’t have many lab opportunities in schools and so you kind of feel for them. And so, in addition to labs, I would also try to get involved more on the research side and, and help out so you can get some publications or presentations, or attend conferences that will also help…
And show you’re dedicated and very interested in the field.
Absolutely, and again, you know, this is, we’re talking about the field of clinical psychology, which is often, you know, have a more applied field. And so, you know, you may do volunteer experience and, in a place, where you can act, you know, in a more clinical applied role, right? And it doesn’t, I mean you could also maybe get a job like that where you’re being paid for that, but you could also, do volunteer, if it’s possible. And you know, I also sit on, I, I do a lot of admissions interviews in my school and I look at what I look for when I meet with students and, and like experience you know when they talk about their volunteer experience, where they can be specific about it, their clinical experience, their research experience or lab experience, their, as you said, publications, conferences, conference presentations that all just shows that they’re interested and that they can do it, but they’re dedicated so I would also recommend that yeah.
So, here’s a question that I, I didn’t share with you yet was I often see some of our guests and, and people I talk to outside of the show, trying to decide whether or not they should go for their PhD versus a PsyD and what are your thoughts on, you know, why would you use a PsyD or go for a PsyD instead of a PhD or vice versa? Just picking your brain on your thoughts and your experiences on PsyD versus PhD.
So, I have a PhD, but then I teach in a PsyD program, right? So, I kind of really do know both of them and I would say that the PsyD is a little bit more clinically focused, right? I mean, students will often come ’cause they really want to get a really strong clinical training and, and they do get that from our program right so, so. And we are, the program I teach in is an APA accredited program and, as such, research is really important. Research is a part of learning the field, and in learning what, what you know the, the scholarship is there. What research findings are, how they affect our knowledge, how they’ve informed us, and they still have to do research in the program when, when we they work with us, but it’s less of a sort of specific focus, as much as it is in a PhD program. And, and so you know, I think in PhD there’s some PhD programs that emphasize clinical work a little bit more, and there’s some that are more, um, research oriented so, so it, it depends on what you want to do and when you’re done, I think. But it’s, it’s like I think the PsyD program is a little bit more applied. Uhm, and you’ll, you may go through it with a bigger cohort, right, uhm, in the PsyD program. But then that’s kind of nice too, because then you form a strong relationship with your peers and, and so there are differences, but yeah, that’s what it gives you a sense, I think.
OK, well thank you for sharing. Before we move away from York University. What are some of the fond memories? I know that you said the mentorship and everybody, you know, knowing the faculty. Any other fond memories of your experiences at York University?
I have a lot of fond memories of, of like and my experiences at York, uhm. There’s really, you know, it was just, it was such a great place to work because you know I worked under Leslie Greenberg and, uhm, this was a time where we were very involved in the development of emotion. Focused therapy. And, and you know, I had been exposed to client centered therapy and Gestalt therapy and, and then, uhm, and they all, everything made sense to me these more and these more experiential therapies I’ll, I’ll say that that they that was really making a lot of sense to me. And then, you know, Les was really involved in developing this approach and, and so, I sort of got on board at that point in developing the approach with him and doing research. And so, we would do these psychotherapy research studies. So, I got myself, my training, right? And I got to, to meet like you know we were really doing psychotherapy research, so we’d like advertise to the community. We’d bring people in for to work on specific problems like depression and, uhm, and so it was just this great opportunity to feel like we were really doing something important and interesting and meaningful. And we were a part of something, and I was a part of the development of it. And, and so. And then I had a lot of other, we were all working on it together with my, with my friends, and I made really good relationships with my friends and, and with Les, I had Les was also. You know, he was incredibly, you know, he’s an incredibly, you know, smart guy. And, and so he had so much to offer and, and then, so I was learning so much. But also, like there was so much doing and we were all in this together. And so, I know it’s not a specific memory, but it was just like the, the, the total package of it. You know, that was great.
Well, that’s, I wasn’t asking for anything specific. It could be anything that comes to your mind. It’s the feeling. What I what I hear you saying, Dr. Goldman, is it, it was, it was the feeling that camaraderie and we’re in this together as you said, and, and it must have been exciting to develop a new approach because, you know, being on board and, and working with Dr. Greenberg about that and, and, and moving forward with that because, as we’re going to discuss a little bit later, that’s what your main focus is on and many of your books and publications and, and research has been about. But before I switch there, I’m kind of going through your, your, your academic journey kind of chronologically and so, so after you finished York University, I believe you taught at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology for over 22 years or around 22 years. So how did you find that opportunity?
Yeah, sure, sure, sure. Yeah, so then, as my graduate studies were coming to a close, I was in the position of looking for an academic job just like many, many before me and many since. And so, I was really searching around, and I saw this job advertised at the Illinois school and it was in Chicago and that sounded pretty interesting to me and, uhm, it was very focused on clinical training, right? So, I, I was always very, this does go back to my sort of academic journey to some extent because, uhm, I really liked doing research as I was telling you because I was doing this more applied research, uhm, and so I knew I wanted to keep doing that, but I also liked the idea of really hands on kind of experiential learning and experiential training. And so there, there was something about the way that this job was, was advertised actually that I, I thought, yeah, that sounds interesting, right? Like I, I could, I could really enjoy doing that. So then I applied and that’s what happened. And then I stayed all those years.
Yeah, you definitely must have enjoyed it because he stayed for about 22 years. Now for, for our guests and our listeners, you know, who are about to graduate with their degrees and enter the academic world, can you kind of recall your, the steps that you took in order to start applying for jobs and just kind of reflect on what you did and what worked well, maybe what you would have changed, or any advice that you might have for those who are about to graduate and then start applying for different jobs? Any advice for them?
So, again, like you, like you named, we’re going back a number of years and things have changed so much it really, really changed in that way. I, I think in terms of these communications and how things get out there and so, back then, we were like I was just looking at all kinds of job ads in like the API monitor and Chronicles of Higher Education and, you know, some of the, these, these publications where jobs were listed, and now I, I’m sure it would be all a lot more electronic than what was going on back then. But, I mean, it was, we were still, we had computers, right? It wasn’t that long ago, but I think that, that you know the Internet exploded really, since then and, and so, yeah, we were just, uh, and again like. You can hear me saying we because some of my peers and my colleagues were also looking for jobs and so you know if we always rely on the people around you for support. And so, I did. Yeah, so I was like combing through different and I did go on different job interviews and that was really important to get academic experience or job doing these jobs because they’re very, you know, I don’t know if people are familiar with academic, applying for academic positions, but it’s tough and, uhm, and you have to, it’s good to do a few along the way, and you know, just try. So, is that like, is that what you’re asking me about? Kind of?
Yeah, I you know I, I just I just wanted to get an idea of what you went through and, of course, technology has changed and we kind of all find you know different ways of doing that versus you know another thing that comes to mind, Dr. Goldman is back then it was probably you had to, you had to, the way that you found the jobs, as you mentioned, is different than today and then the way that you physically applied for the jobs is different than today. Back then, you probably mailed everything to, you know, the, the prospective employer back then and now you can email and, and send everything electronically.
Yeah, yeah, email was just exploding at that point and we, I think I was doing both that we were mailing and emailing. And yeah, but, but yeah now everything is electronic.
The other thing that I wanted to point out before I move on to the next question for you is I think this hasn’t changed all that much where a lot of people may think, oh, I’m applying for this job and I’ll go and visit the campus and then visit with, with whoever is, is in charge of that job search, but, in actuality, you’re probably going to meet with multiple people and multiple departments. At least when I went through that. Uh, I, I met with three or four different people from three or four different departments. Because they wanted to get a better understanding of who you are, your experiences and then, and then come back on the committee and say OK, based on, you know, my interaction with Brad or, or Rhonda, here are my thoughts and so any, any other, you know, thoughts regarding that?
Yeah, no, I think that, that’s, that’s correct, and so yeah, people have to sort of, I mean, I think now especially these days we’re just sort of in the, coming out of the pandemic. We’re not even sure where we are in relation to the pandemic, but uhm, everything is happening over zoom right? Uhm, and so I think people have to be prepared for that possibility too. But the idea that you would meet with all these different people from different departments is very important. And then I would also say in that process, I mean, it’s hard, as you said, because you’re, you may be slammed with like a lot of different interviews with a lot of different people coming from different perspectives. And I remember that, but also, it’s a good opportunity for you to really see like is this a good fit for me, right? Like, am I going to like it here and are these people. Can I fit into this department, am I going to be able to do what I want to do in my career, right? So, I think you can kind of make sure that you really understand it from your perspective.
Very good reminder. Yes, it’s not only them seeking you, but you’re also seeking the right appointment and, and the university for your work moving forward. You are, you are a full professor in the Clinical Psychology Department at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Tell us how you found this opportunity. And what, did you just move from the Illinois school over to this? Or I, I didn’t see anything in between there, looking at your history, so I want to make sure that I’m covering everything.
Yeah, no I, well so the Illinois school closed. Illinois School was part of Argosy University and the whole university just kind of shut down one day. That’s a long story, but that’s what happened. And to some extent it was merged with the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. To some extent. It wasn’t, I mean, Illinois school was then bought out by another university, it’s a long story, but, but basically some of us came over to the Chicago School and the Chicago School, was, it was just extremely welcoming and open and inviting to me, so I’m very great, I was very grateful for that opportunity, but yeah, it was a, you know, and it, it, it was a similar position to the one that I had at the Illinois School so it made a lot of sense for me.
OK, you had mentioned that you knew psychology was, was what you wanted to do. Was it, was it until you started working with Dr. Greenberg that you found out about EFT and started working and developing on that with, with Dr. Greenberg? Or were you interested in that even before? And then you sought out Dr. Greenberg. Does that make sense?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it’s a good question. I mean so I. It’s hard to recall exactly the progression right, but I do remember that I was very, uhm, interested, it was sort of together right so, so I think I took courses and then, well, maybe it was through him that I was introduced to client centered therapy and to Gestalt therapy. And, and I really liked that and then I liked him, right? So, it was both at the same time. What was interesting though, is that when I started out, if you’d talked to me as an undergraduate, I would have probably said, you know, I just want to be a psychotherapist, like and this I was very clear about that, that I wanted to be a psychotherapist. And you know, I, I, I turns out I am, and, and I still am. But that’s just like one of my hats, right? And so, but so Graduate School was where that really expanded, right? So not only did I get the clinical training, but then doing this research as I’ve said was really important and that actually really helped my clinical training as well, but yeah, so like once I discovered there that I could do psychotherapy research. You know, and, and that, and it was not just focused on like the outcome of psychotherapy was focused on the process of psychotherapy, which is to say, like how psychotherapy works and how the change process happens in therapy. So, I think that knowing that research could be that was really important. So, then I started, oh, I like research, OK, and then like Oh well, I don’t want to teach. But then you know I started, you know, because when you’re a Graduate School, graduate student, you do teach. Assistant positions often, and so then I started teaching. I’m like, oh, but I like this as long as it’s like teaching what I want to teach, you know, and things that interest me. So, then I started realizing, oh, I can teach, and I can do research and I can be a therapist and, and this is really expansive now, you know, so, so I don’t know if that’s what you’re asking exactly, but I think that was kind of what the trajectory and what happened.
Yeah, no, you answered my question. I just wanted to kind of get a better understanding of how you became involved and found, you know, EFT and let’s stop for a moment, and for those who haven’t heard of, or talked about, or learned of EFT, EFT stands for Emotion-Focused Therapy, sometimes people call it Emotionally Focused Therapy, but tell us kind of in your own words what is EFT and, you know, based on my research it, it includes elements of experiential therapy such as person-centered, you mentioned that, and Gestalt Therapy, and it’s a combination of those as well as Systemic Therapy and maybe even Attachment Therapy. So, in your own words, kind of tell our audience what is EFT.
OK, so it’s all the things you said and, and it’s, it’s sort of is this blending into some integration of these different psychotherapy approaches? I’d say that uhm, it’s a bit. You’re kind of a bit frozen right now. OK, you came back alright. I’d say that it’s a. It’s been updated with modern emotion theory, right? So, there’s a lot of emotion theory that supports the, the therapy, the approach, but yeah, it, it’s really like this, a client centered therapeutic relationship that you form with the client. Uhm, that’s this. So, the relationship is very key, right? Because it creates a lot of emotional safety, which I think you need and then from that place, you’re kind of going inside and working with people, visceral bodily felt experience, another therapy that’s kind of been integrated here is an called focusing oriented psychotherapy which has a strong focus on the body and, uhm, and so, so there’s a strong focus on visceral bodily felt, emotional experience and bringing it to life in session. And then working with it in, in different ways and therapy to try to, to shift it right? Because basically we see and we think, and we’ve observed that emotional processing problems are the source of a lot of the difficulties that people bring into therapy, and so we’re going to really go to them and try to work with your emotions as they’re happening and so that we can basically shift them and transform them through the therapy process. So yeah.
OK, well thank you I, I, I’m glad that you kind of elaborated a little bit more on that because there are some people that, you know, there’s so many different types of therapy out there that you know some people might not have heard of or, or researched EFT yet.
So, and another thing I should probably add is that it’s an approach that’s, you know, as I said, I was part of the development of the approach, uhm, started out with Les Greenberg. There’s a lot of other people that have been involved in it, UM. You know, like Robert Elliott and Jeanne Watson and Sandra Paivio and myself and, and many others and, uhm, and it’s, it’s been developed for both individuals and for couples, right? So, uhm, and, and so, and it’s based on research, right? So, we’re, we like as I mentioned, I keep saying research, but you know, we really like to develop our approach through study and through observation and through experience and, and so a lot of the research that’s been done to develop it has been, uhm, been about observing ourselves, observing the process and then allowing that to inform the theory. And then there’s this theory that we’ve developed, and it’s, it’s really written down in a number of books and, and in a number of books that I’ve coauthored as a matter of fact, so and there’s many books out there and there’s many authors.
OK, so I’m going to share my screen just let me know if you can see the screen. I wanted to bring up your, you know, faculty page at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and if you’re interested in finding out a little bit more about Dr. Goldman, you can go to this page, and she has a nice well-written biography in here, but she also includes some of her professional memberships, her academic journey as well, presentations, areas of expertise and you mentioned some of the publications as well, and so I brought up the screen to show that it shows some of your recent publications. Some more recent ones here as well. I think the most recent is this one, and this one is “Providing Emotion-Focused Therapy Online”, and this was just back in August of 2021. And I think that’s very relevant and timely now because of people going through COVID and providing this. And even before we started recording this podcast, you and I talked about, hey, the advantages and disadvantages…
So, I, I think we timed out there. Our connection disconnected for a second, so I, I wanted to make sure that I give you the opportunity to talk about what are your thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of meeting people online and providing that therapy online versus in person.
Uh, yeah. So very topical. Very, you know, apropos to the to the times, uhm, yeah. And I saw that you had put the “Providing Emotion-Focused Therapy Online” video that I made last year. So that’s available as, as you, as you pointed out. Yeah, so about the question. So, you’re, you’re just asking what are the advantages and, and disadvantages of, of. The greatest thing about doing therapy online is that we can do it, right, like that.
So that was the that was the big discovery through the pandemic, right? I mean, I didn’t do any therapies online prior to the pandemic and then suddenly we were just thrown into it right? And, and it was like. Oh my gosh, thank God we can do this right and I was nervous, but I found it’s possible and, and like another thing that I haven’t really talked about with therapy I do is that I do this. I work with people in chairs in therapy and I have them have dialogues with different parts of themselves in chairs. It’s a big kind of part of what I do. And I thought, oh no, you know, am I going to be able to do chair work online. You know through the computer and. And so, and, in fact, yes you can. You know you. It involves a little bit more set up, right? So, you’ve got to make sure that the chairs are visible through the camera. You’ve got to make sure the microphone works when they move different positions and. But uh, it’s, it’s highly doable, so, so that’s been really fascinating. And in that video that you that you flashed up there for a second, that that’s what I demonstrate. How I do chair work with a client? And so, there are those advantages there’s some obviously, like I was mentioning before, this bodily felt experience the visceral. You know it’s a little. Bit harder to get. A sense of the clients experience online. And, and so you have to sometimes you have to sort of ask a few more exploratory questions to sort of see like is that what’s happening? What’s happening for you? If you’re not able to read what’s going on in their body, and you also, I think for me I have to be more aware of what’s going on for me and verbalize it, right, because I think you do have to remember that we can only see people from here up and so there might be all kinds of things going on underneath that you don’t know about. And uhm, and so sometimes I, I will just remember that oh what I feel is, is something that I have to communicate more verbally now, because the nonverbals are, we have less dimensionality in our nonverbals, right? We have fewer of them to, to rely upon. So sometimes I have to verbalize my, my feelings to my clients and say, you know I, you know I, I wish I could be right beside you right now, ’cause it sounds like this is very painful for you, uhm, and, and, so just like that, but, but it’s, it’s like also amazing that this is so can be done, you know, and, and effectively you know, people find it helpful still.
Yes, I. You’re not the only person who has mentioned that, that it was a savior that we realized, you know, the pandemic unfortunately has a lot of negative impacts, but the positive is that it opened up the door for the, you know, the remote sessions and the online sessions that a lot of people probably didn’t do before the pandemic, such as you. So, I’m sharing my screen once again too. If you if you wanted to know a little bit more about Ronda’s work and her publications, just do a simple search online and you’ll find some on Amazon and another fairly recent one was about a year ago, March 23rd, 2021, “Deliberate Practice in Emotion-Focused Therapy (Essentials of Deliberate Practice)”. And then, of course, you can, you can find some of her other work down, down below. What I found interesting if you’re, if you’re seeing this screen is some of your work is in, in different languages as well.
Yeah, yeah, that’s great. Yeah, I’m, I’m looking too. I’m like, oh. I haven’t seen that Italian edition cover that’s interesting. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, there’s a quite a number of languages and also, they’ve been translated into, uh, Korean and, uhm, to Mandarin to Chinese, so I think I saw the German one there. But yeah, things have been translated into other languages, definitely.
And I mentioned during the intro that you run your own emotion focused therapy private practice and it’s called Emotion-Focused Therapy, Chicago. When, when did you know that you wanted to open up your own practice and tell us a little bit more about that?
Uh, well that evolved as well. You know, I was pretty focused on the academic thing and the teaching, and I was always, all along, I’ve been doing psychotherapy and I, I see myself doing the psychotherapy as really fundamental for my teaching and from my research, right? Because it’s so grounded in it, so I’ve always kept that going, so I’ve always had a kind of small private practice along the line, and then I sort of, a few years ago though, I broke out and did more independent just working on my own doing that and, and started this institute and yeah, so, so. Yeah, that’s kind of what happened.
OK, and so when you’re referring to the institute you’re talking about the Emotion-Focused Therapy Institute, or EFTI.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so that’s something that I’ve formed also with some of my colleagues and supervisees who are interested in emotion focused therapy. Uhm, and yeah, I think that’s what you’ve got up on the screen now, that’s right. Uh, and so there’s some others. Whitney, Sean, and Eileen, and so, so they also were connected, and through this Emotion-Focused Therapy Institute, and they also offer emotion focused therapy. Uhm, yeah. I mean, I think in general it’s just for me it’s always been quite organic in terms of uhm, I wanna be able to practice this therapy and, and so I’ll open up an institute. I want to be able to teach other people how to do it. It’s such a, you know from graduate from, really this goes back to Graduate School, in Graduate School I got bit by the bug, right? This is what I always say. And then I, and I saw this is such a powerful approach and I can really help people with it, and I’ve had so much, so much success doing that, that I thought OK, you know, like other people I want to train other people to do it right, and so then I. And then when, you know EFT is such an interesting therapy, and it’s, it’s such a like a full package that when people experience it then they tend to say “I love this” right? I mean, you know, not everybody, obviously. It’s not for everybody, not everything for everybody. But, but when people love EFT, they love it. And, and so. And they ’cause they see. It it’s just such a powerful approach. And, and so really, you know, people want that kind of training and, and forming these this institute was a way to try to do that, to try to disseminate. To convey this and to train other people as well.
So, I, I kept the screen up and sharing it with you because I wanted to highlight down below ’cause a lot of people might I think, you know, I, I wanted to highlight this down below that, I have highlighted “EFTI, or the Institute, facilitates training workshops and educational opportunities for therapists/psychologists interested in using EFT in their professional practices”. So, I, I kept that up there because it it’s a different approach. It’s, it’s training the, the therapists and the psychologists on how to incorporate EFT in a professional and effective, impactful manner and, and so, I, I applaud you for, for providing that service, because as I mentioned earlier, a lot of people might not have even, you know, covered EFT and how do I, how do I get experience in utilizing that and incorporating that into my practice and so that’s why I kept it up there for you so.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, you can…right, so this is also for people who, so I teach in the, as we talked about, I teach in the at the Chicago School in the PsyD program. So, and that’s a degree program people end up with the PsyD at the end, but I also do these trainings for, uhm, for adult learners. You know for first psychotherapists who have been trained, and then they want to get some more specific training in emotion-focused therapy. And you know, I do see this as a lifelong learning endeavor and so I’m always still in the process of learning. And, and I think people often want more specific training once they get out into the field to right, they wanna they go, oh, I want to get more training in this. This is really important, I need to be able to figure out how to people help people to deepen their emotions. And how do you do that chair work thing. So that’s where that comes in and, and then we do those trainings in different parts of the world too, right? So, I, I, yeah.
So, I also wanted to just touch on real quickly, I’m going to share my screen again, you’re also a founding board member of the International Society of Emotion Focused Therapy, or ISEFT. Tell us more about how and why you, you, you found this opportunity with the ISEFT.
Yeah, so then you’ve kind of covered all the bases here, right? With your research about me, that’s great. And so, you’ve got the board members up there. And so yeah, as you said, I’m a founding board member of International Society for Emotional Focused Therapy, and we really formed this because, as I said before, people are wanting, you know, it gives people a home, it gives people, uhm, a sense, uh, a sense of identity when people get interested in emotion focused therapy, they often want and they find it so engaging and so powerful they, they often want more, right? And, and then they sort of identify very strongly with it, and so we formed a community and, and yeah, we, we found like this is a good way to create a kind of presence for people in a home so that they could come to, come to maybe figure out how to do more workshops or how to train more and or, or, you know, and we have a listserv, and so there’s always a lot of kind of activity, and people throw out questions about psychotherapy practice on the listserv. And how do you deal with this, or, you know, what about, you know, forgiveness and how does that work in therapy or whatever the topic and, and so and then we have a conference that we’ve run every couple of years. We’ve had just sort of slow that down with the pandemic, but, but we have a conference and people attend and, and everybody comes together and talks about new developments in emotion focused therapy. And so yeah, we, we created this really to essentially give people a home, give people a sense of identity and belonging and also to disseminate and, and, and we are connected. We’re sort of this overarching umbrella organization that connects together a lot of institutes from across the world and we’re in, we’re on, literally, we have institutes all on different continents, right like and I mean that you know, North America, South America, Europe, Asia. Uhm, so we, we really are connecting people that way.
Another home, now that you kind of mentioned that I’m, I’m sharing my screen again is, is SEPI…
Look how beautiful that is.
And, and I know, yep and I, I know that you were also a past president for the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration and I’m sharing the main website here but I also wanted to point out that you, you did a webinar some time ago during the pandemic and, and I found that on, on the website as well because SEPI has a separate webinar recordings area and, and you, you did one called “Working with Emotions in Therapy the EFT way: A Fireside Chat with…” basically Les Greenberg, yourself, and Alberta Pos. Did I say the name right?
OK, and I found this actually pretty interesting and, and so this is just another forum through which people can find another home and network for different ideas and, and very good information on this website as well. So, tell us a little bit about how you got involved with SEPI.
Yeah, so SEPI is another academic home, isn’t it? Uhm, and I got involved with SEPI when I was a graduate student as well, and so all these little seeds got planted when I was a graduate student, right? And then I was attending conferences and, and SEPI is great because you know it really, I mean, people may be familiar that there’s they. They look around and they say like, wow, there’s so many different types of psychotherapy. Where do I start and what if I like, you know, more than one and, and how am I going to integrate these things? And are they all really so different? Or what about the similarities? So uhm. So, psychotherapists, so SEPI provides this kind of academic home for people who want to talk to each other like you, may be a psychodynamic therapist and you know, but you’re interested in EFT, and you want to learn something about it? And so, this is a place where people from across therapeutic orientations can actually dialogue with each other and learn and integrate new things into their practice, maybe, or talk about theoretical integration and, and so it really you don’t have to like give up your home orientations is the way I think of it. Uhm, because I’m still very identified with EFT. You don’t have to give it up, you can still have that, but then you have to acknowledge that there’s lots of knowledge in the field and, and practices that people have engaged working with all different types of clients, and you might really learn something. You go and talk to people so, so that’s, that’s what that really allows for.
Well, good, I know that you had mentioned, and I had mentioned earlier that you know this is a way, these forums are a way for you, especially SEPI, to integrate different types of therapy into your approaches, and you know this is just a sampling of the different types of therapy you know.
Yeah, look at that.
Look at all these different therapy types and I wanted to point out for our audience that EFT, uh, don’t get it confused with the emotional freedom technique and there are some other acronyms that use EFT as well but EFT down here we, we actually did a little bit of research on this and give a summary and, and you were kind enough to, to point out, hey Brad would you, would you mind if I work with you to update this a little bit so I appreciate your offer and to do that, but for those who are interested in the different types, especially EFT, you could go to the website and just search online…
As well, but I wanted to thank you for your willingness to help us update that specific area on our website as well.
Yeah, yeah, yeah and. And just like I see that, you know, you also mentioned Susan Johnson in there and she’s been a part of the development of the couples and she now, you know, so she originally developed that approach with Les Greenberg back when she was a graduate student, uhm, back in the 1980s. And then she kind of went off with it and took it in her particular direction, which is a sort of very strong focus on attachment. And then actually I went back with Les and I, because I was working with Les Greenberg and we updated it as well and we focus on attachment, but we also focus on identity, which is another kind of important dimension in people’s relationships. So, so, you know now you almost have like these two strands which is like that Susan Johnson and her crew are doing a lot of the emotionally focused and we do the emotion focused and, uh, emotion focused, is, you know, based in part on the individual, in part on the couples. So yeah. But you’re right, I, I also will try to reflect that in the website too.
And you brought it up so I might as well bring up my screen one more time. There’s a little excerpt from, from a, a training you did in an interview you did, with emotion-focused couple therapy. And this is just a clip and I listened to this a couple times and one thing that that stood out for me was the main question for this clip was, you know, what were some of the main themes that presented in your therapy sessions with couples and, and you at that point said there were attachment and identity themes. And attachment being closeness, connection, affiliation and then the, the identity themes regarding recognition and validation. And so, for those of you who are interested in that, I’ll provide a link for this YouTube video as well. And then we had another longer YouTube video with this gentleman as well. And this leads me to my next question that I kind of talked to you a little bit before we started the recording is back in 2016, he asked you what, if you were going through therapy yourself, what would your ideal therapist look like and, and your answer just to remind you, you don’t have to, I’m not going to put you on the spot your answer…
Yeah, I just I, like what did I say?
Yeah, your answer was acceptance first of all, and then the ability to establish a strong connection and the ability to take the client deeper and explore deeper emotions and anything else that you’d like to add to that since the 2016, the ideal therapist, any other characteristics or attributes that you’d talk about the ideal therapist.
Uhm, I think that was a pretty good answer I.
It, it sounds good to me.
So, so I think yeah, just like. What I think and, and I because I, I’m so involved in training a therapist. You know, I think it’s like not being afraid to go deeper into the people’s emotions, I think people really want that actually and, and they, they need that. Uhm, and I think you need that for change to happen so, you know, people who are trained to explore experientially. Like that’s, that’s really important for me. That’s what I see is so important for a therapist. Yes, yeah, yeah. So, I’m. I’m, I’m OK with the answer that was good.
Good, good so you know.
It’s good to not look back and regret, right?
It’s like Oh my God. I can’t believe I said that, yeah.
Well, it might. It might have evolved a little bit, and the reason I asked that question is now that we’re doing more of it online, there are different attributes, you know that you have to consider online versus in person when you’re you know, basing your, your answer on in-person type of psychotherapy so.
You know you’re doing a lot. You’re very busy. What’s the most challenging part of balancing all of your jobs and your responsibilities?
So, balancing. You said it, that’s the most challenging part is how to balance them right and, and also to remember that I need to, I need some downtime sometimes and I need to be able to, to relax, come back to my body, right? And so, uhm, and sometimes to slow down. So, like you know, because as you said, and as I’ve said, like I get so excited, and I talk about I did this, and I did that and it’s true. I’m really excited. There’s, I, I’ve been truly excited about all the different things I do, and I wouldn’t trade that, you know. I wouldn’t trade in that variety, I think that diversity and that variety is so important, but it does involve like taking this hat off, putting that hat on, you know. Like that that’s a lot and sometimes it does get overwhelming and so it’s, it’s just like trying to balance that and trying to come back to myself and trying to breathe, ground myself, continue to remember about my body. But you know, taking care of it and, and so. So yeah, like I think that’s the biggest challenge is just creating balance.
Yeah, you know you brought up something that I saw many of your videos and webinars and one thing that that came into my mind while you were answering that question was being in tune with yourself and, and one thing that I remember from some of your webinars is in order to become a stronger EFT professional, you kept saying you need to go through your own process, develop your own emotional awareness, imagine what it would be like if you were the client and, and in order to become a better EFT professional, you almost have to go through that emotional process and open yourself up to that process yourself in order to better become an EFT professional. Is that a good summary?
Yeah, I, I think that that’s really true. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
OK and then is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?
I don’t, you know I, my mother was a psychologist and so I kind of had a little bit of a bird’s eye view in that respect and she was more focused on assessment and, uhm, and so I actually didn’t want to go in that direction. And so, I kind of knew that. So, I, I don’t know if there’s anything I wish I knew. I guess maybe the, the idea that psychology really is so diverse, right? Like there’s so much you can do with a degree, especially in clinical psychology, ’cause there’s that applied, you can do that. Therapy, you can do research and, you know, you can do neuropsychology now you can do like there is so much you can do with it. So, all I would, uhm, answer to that is I wish I knew how much there was to offer, I mean, and I think that’s why you have what you’re doing is trying to help people sort through all that psychology has and try to find their track within it, right? And so, I think that’s really great, because people need some guidance, I think, along those lines because there is so much out there. Uhm, so yeah, I just I think I wish that I knew all that, but I did know a lot. I was lucky in that regard, but I, I would have liked to know, you know, there’s you know whatever you decide you want to do, you go, and you start Graduate School and then you may go in one direction, or when my students come in and I, we always ask them at the beginning. What did? What do you? Why did you come here? What, what do you want to do with the degree and, and they and I really, I love it when they say, I’m open, right? Like I, I just, I, I like the field and I want to learn and that’s why I’m here and, and I’ll, you know, I’ll figure it out as I go, and you can.
Very good answer. Good suggestion too about being open and reminding yourself don’t, at the time you’re making that decision, you might have some blinders on, or you might be ignorant to the fact that there’s all these other, you know, opportunities or fields or types, or you know career choices that you haven’t even considered. And you’re exactly right, that’s kind of our goal of our podcast is to bring on wide variety of experiences, journeys and then help people understand what is out there in that field because it’s a large field, as you mentioned.
Some, some goals and plans for the future, so I know that you’ve accomplished a lot what are, looking forward, what are some goals or plans that you have?
Well, it’s really this thing of continuing to develop emotion focused therapy, continuing to disseminate, uhm, through all the means that I can do it. Books, workshops, uhm, writing, communicating, getting the word out there and doing things like this podcast. Uhm, social media, and you know. But, but like that, those are communication devices and, and really continuing to develop the approach is, is really important for me and training the next generation, uh, of uh, emotion focused therapists.
So, we usually end the podcast with a few fun questions that I ask my guests, and the first one I already know the answer to, but I’m going to, I’m going to rephrase it a little bit for you. Usually I, usually I ask, what is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why? Well, my gosh you have EFT, you have EFT…
You’re going get an answer there, right, right, right, right.
So other than EFT, can you think of another favorite term, principle, or theory?
Uh, OK, well I know you’re trying to divert me, but I’m still going to probably end up coming back to it but still I, I, I like the term, “the body keeps the score”, you know, and that that’s a term or that’s a phrase, I guess, that Bessel Van Der Kolk kind of coined in his in his book the title of his one of his more recent books. Uhm, and I think, uh, another thing is, uh, and it’s all related to emotion, right? But, but “the only way out is through” and, so this is the same idea that you have to, you know, so, so both of those things together you can think like you, you gotta go down. You gotta go into emotional experience in order to come through it and come out of it. But you will come out of it, right? Doesn’t mean you’re not gonna if it’s difficult or painful, then you’ll, you’ll find ways out and then you know you’ll find emotion like positive emotions is the way through and a way out. Uhm, and if you do that with the help of a really good therapist, that really, that really seems to work, and I’ve seen it work. Uhm, and then the idea of the body keeps the score. Yeah, is, is like that we have these emotional memories that we that we hold and that inform us, and they become like testimonials that to our lives and, and so I think it’s really very important. And, and, and there are therapists out there who are, not just me, who are saying this as well. And, and writers and authors you know who I’ve even talked about. I think of Antonio Damasio as well the, the talk about the importance of the of going into your emotions and going to your feelings, and going to your body because that’s where these emotional memories are and the, if we can go there, then we have the opportunity to transform, right? And to find meaning and I we, we, as humans, we need meaning, right? It’s, it’s, it’s. And we, we need meaning to live so, so I think like the body has these emotional meanings and these emotional memories. They’re telling us what we feel and what we need. And so, we gotta go to them and listen to them and come through them. So that, and sometimes we want to change them. If you’ve been. If you’ve been traumatized these bodily felt memories are difficult. They’re still there and you gotta still try to listen to them and find out what you need to, to feel and see and meet what, what meaning they have. But you can also transform them, right? So, and you can transform them by going into that. So, so that’s a long answer to your question that kind of gets to the heart of it.
Perfect, perfect. Do you have any other advice for those interested in the field of psychology or those wanting to learn more about EFT or incorporate EFT into their own practice?
Uhm, look for me online if you want to learn more about EFT. We have workshops. We have institutes. There’s other institutes in North America and then around the world where these trainings are happening. Uhm, and just general advice for people who are wanting to study psychology is just following your passion. I mean, I know that I always say that to people and, and, and I, I don’t mean to sound, you know, trite but, it’s true, right? What interests you? What are you curious about? What are you passionate about? All of those questions? Ask yourself those questions because I think that’s where the answer is.
Very good answer, kind of a fun question here. If you had the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?
Oh my gosh. Oh, that’s hard. I, I think you stumped me. So, because it’s the one thing, right? ’cause like I, I, I, I have more than one.
Yeah, well that you can talk about anything. If you had the time and money, what would you do…
With, you know, a project or a trip.
Well, I would probably start here, actually, and, where I am and, and develop, and, you know, the emotion focused therapy Institute more. And but like you know, a much sort of bigger infrastructure as a way to try to do more dissemination, do more training, do more research et cetera. And then I would go and do that somewhere in Europe as well. Some beautiful place on, on, you know, on, on a lake or I would do it somewhere in, in a beautiful setting, in a forest, and maybe I would build different institutes and different parts of the world and, and I’d go to other continents and start doing that like that, that would be, that’s my dream.
That sounds wonderful. I can, I can, you, you almost painted the picture for me. That sounds wonderful, especially I’m in, yeah, I’m in Minnesota and we’re at, at 7 degrees. I came back from a trip last night to a winter storm and you just described, yeah, you just described a nice European, you know, setting for me too. I’ve been to Greece, and I immediately thought of the island of Crete and, and, and the views that I had there, so, no, very good answer.
So, combine that ’cause I love travel and, and you know I love these beautiful settings that you’re describing and to combine that with learning to do, you know, self, self-exploration and learning to do psychotherapy, uhm, it sounds like the whole package.
Is there anything else that you would like to bring up or discuss in this podcast?
Uhm, I think you’ve touched on, on a lot and you’ve been really thorough on your, your research. Uhm, I think, I think that’s, that’s pretty good.
OK, well I, I really appreciate your time and willingness to share your thoughts and your, your experiences. Rhonda, thanks again for sharing your story and advice with us.
Thank you, thank you for this opportunity to talk with you, and I think what you’re doing is excellent and, and I love it. And, and, you know, just thanks for all your research and your great questions so.
Appreciate you taking the time and I appreciate the support and kind words, thanks.