The Single Most Common Question I Get as a Psychologist

Glenn Livingston Ph.D., Psychology Today – When I finished my Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1991, I was still just under 26 years old.

At the time, when first meeting me, clients would stare for a while before reciting some polite (or not-so-polite) version of “What the heck could you possibly know, you pimply-faced Ph.D.?”

But now, almost three decades later, with silver hair and professor-like, black-rim glasses, I’ve been in the field longer than I haven’t been.

I’m also the son of a psychologist (dad) and counselor (mom), in a family of more than a dozen therapists.

My step-mom, step-dad, sister, brother-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles, great-uncles, etc., are all counselors of one type of another.

If something in one of our houses breaks, even the family dog will ask you how you feel about it, but nobody will know how to fix it!

The point is, I’ve been in and around psychology my entire life, and have received as many questions as any other psychologist.

The question I get most often is:

“How do you sit with people and hear their problems all day without it affecting you? How do you insulate yourself from their feelings and remain objective?”

The Answer: You don’t.

Well, you do work hard to remain objective. That has to do with paying attention to facts more than feelings because feelings aren’t facts.

But, in my not-so-humble opinion, you can’t insulate yourself from clients’ feelings, because the harder you fight them, the more intense they get. And the more intense they get, the more “stuck” inside you they become.

Instead, you let clients’ feelings pass through you. In effect, you are lending these people your soul. For this reason, as a psychologist, you must always be willing to screen people out, even if you need the money … Read more. 


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