About Me
Contact Me

The glory of God
is a man fully alive.

~ Irenaeus                                                                                       

It is never too late
to be what you might have been.

~ George Eliot                                                                                     



(with children, adolescents and adults)



How long have you been practicing psychotherapy and family therapy?

What approach do you use?

Do you provide individual therapy to children and adolescents? How is it different from how you work with adults?

What are your particular areas of expertise?

How is psychotherapy supposed to work anyhow?

What is the ultimate goal of psychotherapy?

How long have you been practicing psychotherapy and family therapy?

I completed my Masters Degree in psychology at the Université de Montréal in 1986 and I have worked in the field ever since. So that makes about 30 years.

I spent the first several years working with children and adolescents.

In 1990 I began learning family therapy at the Scarborough General Hospital Child and Family Clinic in Ontario.

Then I decided to return to graduate school in order to study the family dynamics I was observing firsthand.

I completed my Ph.D. (Doctoral degree) in psychology in 1999.
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What approach do you use?

I work within one of the three following approaches, depending upon your needs:

1) Systemic approach: the focus is on working within the context of your family or couple relationship;

2) Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) approach: the focus is on what you do and how you think about what is happening in your life;

3) Brief Solution-Focused approach: the focus is on helping you make specific and concrete positive changes in your life and your relationships, usually within six to eight sessions.
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Do you provide individual therapy to children and adolescents? How is it different from how you work with adults?

Yes, I work with children ages three and above and I also work with adolescents.

In my work with young children, play is an important part of therapy since children often communicate better through play than they do through words. (I agree with Michel de Montaigne, who wrote that "play is the serious business of childhood".) My therapy room has drawing materials and toys (um, "therapeutic play materials"), and when I work with young children I will involve you, their parent, as a co-therapist because you are the true expert on your child.

With adolescents, words become more important than play as a communication medium, and I usually see adolescents apart from their parents, unless the presenting problem involves family conflict. Confidentiality is an important issue for most adolescents since they are growing towards independence, and it is important that I develop a relationship of trust with them so as not to be perceived as an "agent" sent by their Mom and Dad to "fix them".
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What are your particular areas of expertise?

A particular area of interest for me has been working with children and families.

I have worked with children who have physical disabilities, emotional difficulties, and autism.

I have co-led therapy groups with sexually abused children. I work with children who have AD/HD and with parents who may not want to depend exclusively on medication for treatment of this learning disorder.

My Masters thesis was entitled "Preschool social withdrawal intervention through Symbolic Modeling" and dealt with how to help shy children. (I was very shy myself as a child, and this thesis was in part to fulfill a promise I made to my eight-year old self: that if I ever found my way out of shyness, I would try to find some way to help children who still struggled with it.)

My doctoral dissertation was entitled "Mother-son interactions predictive of high parentification self-reported by adolescent sons" and involved adolescent boys who may have been dealt too much responsibility within their families.

I have particular expertise in family therapy and may meet with up to three generations of family members, including the grandparents in sessions if they are quite involved with their grandchildren and have positive insights to offer.

I enjoy working with couples, most often in the areas of communication and conflict resolution.

I also have extensive individual therapy experience with relationship difficulties and in business and professional settings I have worked extensively with stress, depression, conflict and burnout.
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How is psychotherapy supposed to work anyhow?

I like Jung’s take on this question. According to him, there are three stages in psychotherapy: Confession, Education, and Transformation.

"Confession is good for the soul", as they say, and often the things you find the most difficult to say are the things you most need to say. Therapy is a good place to open up, a place to practice saying out loud what you may eventually need to say to another person in your life.

Just being able to talk about what has been worrying you can bring a good night’s sleep after many sleepless nights. What once seemed to be an impossible situation may begin to look not quite so impossible.

Often the first positive outcome of therapy is a sense of relief—of peace—that at last you are able to talk about things. And it is good not only to talk, but also to feel listened to and understood. Sometimes friends and family, although they care deeply, can be almost too close to understand.

Education, or making new connections between thoughts and events, is also a part of therapy. Sometimes this means learning new ways to communicate with other people, including your partner and your family.

Transformation means change, and as a result of the first two stages, therapy can bring about positive change—in your perception of yourself and of what you may be experiencing, in how you think about yourself or other people, or in how you act or speak. Change is the most concrete outcome of therapy, the outcome which may give the most satisfaction.
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What is the ultimate goal of psychotherapy?

Hmmm, now we’re getting deep.

According to one philosopher, "the unexamined life is not worth living". One goal of psychotherapy is to help you examine your life, to compare where you are at with where you would like to be.

Once when Freud was asked to define mental health, he replied that the person who is able to "work well and love well" is emotionally and mentally healthy—a pretty good definition of the successful life, in my opinion.

Another definition of success, oft quoted by John F. Kennedy, is "the full use of one’s powers in the direction of excellence".

So the ultimate goal of therapy is to discover where you want to be . . . to determine how you can get there . . . and then to begin your journey . . .
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Copyright © 2007  Dr Darrell Johnson.  All Rights Reserved.
couple therapy, family therapy, individual therapy with adolescents, children, cognitive-behavioural approach/ CBT, systemic approach, brief solution-focused approach