Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Interview of Dr. Friedman
Question: What most interested you in using alternative health approaches?
Answer: As Dean Ornish colorfully describes the process, my focus is to transform and transcend the "I" of illness into the "We" of wellness. In my practice I deeply value courageous people willing to make changes in lifestyle, attitude, relationships, mentality and emotional expression. People literally light up when they come upon a whole new spectrum of reality, perception and being.
Use of alternative
therapeutic approaches like EMDR and belief deconstruction tends to greatly help
see through the ego or false self as a mistaken identity, naturally clearing it
out of the way and open up greater space for Presence and being your True Self.
Question: What is your educational background and experience that prepared you for your practice?
Answer: To start with, I come into my field from a rather unusual background. Majoring in philosophy during my undergraduate studies was extraordinarily helpful in deeply appreciating the importance of clear critical thinking. Rational thought processes help spot common logical missteps, such as erroneous assumptions, false conclusions and unworkable ideas. Since the essential concerns of philosophy (i.e., the general nature of the world, asking "Who anm I?" and "What is my purpose?", a theory of knowledge and the ethical conduct of life) continually come up in this work, I can offer essential support in the form of rational structures.
Secondly, I was raised in the Jewish cultural milieu and have expanded my spiritual net to embrace the essence of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufism. My universal spiritual orientation combined with a strong intuitive approach allows me to me very inclusive and adaptive in therapy with showing great respect to people and their diversity of psycho-spiritual and religious orientations and practices.
Thirdly, I was drawn to a wider understanding of my field by dual tracking in both clinical and social psychology, the latter addressing the behavior and attitude changes that occur in the relationship between individuals and groups. I know that having this additional perspective has enhanced my effectiveness in working with people in their workplaces, marriages and families, group affiliations, community and society. These three threads of practical philosophy, clinical-social psychology and intuitive universal spirituality weave a rich tapestry that continue to yield surprising therapeutic movement.
Question: Would you demonstrate some of the approaches you employ and how this can benefit your clients?
Answer: There have been numerous clients who languish in self-defeating patterns characterized by guilt, self-hatred and punishing themselves. One very useful cognitive modality is to offer critical distinctions, like the three necessary elements of a commitment, what are feelings there for (and what are they not there for), and the five businesses (mine, yours, nobody's, ours and giving you the business). For illustration, one may distinguish the key characteristics of who is trustworthy and who is untrustworthy, determine who is who in your life, and then offer specific strategies to both effectively protect yourself and wisely invest your trust in only people worthy of it. In terms of guilt or shame, for example, you can ask, "Who is feeling guilty?", which can quickly reveal that it is only the ego-mind or imaginary self who is inducing guilt out of negative judgmental thoughts and beliefs.
fears and traumas arise, using the deconstruction of beliefs and other mindbody
approaches like EMDR are most empowering in decharging the psychic energy from
reactive, self-defeating behaviors. Slowing down to deeply see what has never
been seen, what is typically blocked from seeing in almost all traumas given everything
moves lightning fast, is nothing short of revelatory in honestly "standing under"
the experience for the very first time and honestly beginning to see it for just
what it is.
Question: What are your views about using medications, health insurance and fees?
Answer: I have mixed feelings about the use of medications in general in our largely over-medicated society that is only ever accelerating in this direction. I take a naturalistic approach with my clients by really listening to their body's feedback and decoding its messages and meanings. Often medications are not a real answer if one wants to address the roots of the challenges, whether they be anxiety, panic, depression, chronic pain or relationship challenges.
There are psychological challenges that are severe enough to require medical consultation for possible medication, especially if one is unable to function in his or her social or occupational life. Even then, this could remain a short-term intervention lasting for 6 months to a year, which gives a golden window of opportunity to meaningfully address the topic at hand both in terms of immediate relief and deeper root approaches. The true possibility is that the person will have the key skills to gradually wean or titrate off medications with the support of the prescribing doctor. I also realize and it is accurate to say that there are some psychological challenges in living, just like some physical challenges, that will require a more sustained regime of appropriate medication at an effective dosage level.
I severed all ties with healthy insurance companies in the early spring of 2001. I could no longer tolerate insurance companies coming between my clients and the quality of therapeutic care I wanted for them. I regularly offer clients receipts or super bills that have all pertinent information for reimbursement their insurance policy allows.
I have always set my fee in the context of a sliding scale so that a great majority of people can see me. If people have significant economic challenges, I am willing to be flexible with my fee. My lowest fee is reserved for those people who are unemployed or living on a fixed income. My fee is not usually an issue for the great majority of clients I see in the East Bay area.
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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