Interview with Stephen Britchkow, Licensed Psychologist
Interviewer: What does a consumer need to know in choosing a therapist?
Stephen Britchkow: Therapy is a personal process that requires a special level of trust.
The therapeutic relationship is probably the most important factor predictive of success. It is the relationship that heals usually more than any specific approach utilized. You must feel accepted, supported, valued and that you are actively listened to. The therapist
Interviewer: What can you share that might allow me to be more comfortable about your experience and qualifications?
Stephen Britchkow: I help potential clients be more knowledgeable about my qualifications by including conferences and workshops I have attended and resume on my web site. This gives someone researching my background insight about what areas interest me and where some of my particular strengths are. Additionally, I read extensively pertinent journals, books in my field and meet with colleagues for professional collaboration. Wisdom, understanding, compassion can come from continuing education and years of working in the field but it may not. It is a very individual decision that people form.
Stephen Britchkow: That their psychologist feels passionate and energized about the work he does, is keeping up with the latest developments for effective treatments, can rapidly process what they share, and has the life experience and wisdom to be able to help them.
Stephen Britchkow: Therapy is a personal process that requires a special level of trust. There are many approaches to counseling based on various orientations and theories. Some theories actually conflict with one another. Surprisingly, they have almost all demonstrated their value in helping people. I utilize a variety of approaches that I believe best fits an individual or situation. As I have grown developed as a therapist, the more I embraced holistic approaches that address focusing on improving a client’s life style, diet, nutrition, supplements, exercise and meditative practices. I encourage clients to share what has worked best for them in the past.
Interviewer: How can a consumer find out more about you?
Stephen Britchkow: There are links on my website for my Resume, Conferences and Workshops I have attended. I have taken the somewhat unusual step of listing my broad training experiences. It really gives someone investigating my background additional insight about what areas interest me and where some of my particular strengths are. Additionally, I read extensively pertinent journals, books in my field and meet with colleagues for professional collaboration. Wisdom and understanding can come from continuing education and years of working in the field but it may not. It is a very individual decision that people form.
Interviewer: What expectations should one have about experiencing success with counseling?
Stephen Britchkow: Choosing a therapist is an extremely important decision. The Pennsylvania licensing and certification boards establish stringent academic standards and supervised experiences needed to be a Licensed Psychologist and to be school certified in Pennsylvania. There are also continuing education requirements to fulfill.
Interviewer: What about privacy?
Stephen Britchkow: Privacy is a critically important factor. I am very sensitive about this and do everything in my power to insure my client’s confidentiality.
Interviewer: So what made you decide to be a therapist?
Stephen Britchkow: All through high school I was interested in being an engineer. I liked designing things and studying Science. Upon graduation (second in my class) I decided on a career in Law. Fortunately, while attending college I was required to take an interest and aptitude test. I discovered that I scored exceptionally high with artists and psychologists and low with Law which also included History majors in that same category.
I took the results seriously. I had a passionate interest in painting and sketching and really liked the psychology courses I had taken and vowed to myself to take additional ones to help with deciding my major. The testing feedback brought to mind when younger I designed my own original personality tests and gave them to some of my friends. It never occurred to me until I had this career testing that just doing this (I make no presumptions about their real validity) might signal a genuine career interest.
As a result I acquired an appreciation of the value of testing and assessment in my work as a psychologist. It is an essential part of making good decisions in my clinical practice.
Interviewer: What do you do for fun?
Stephen Britchkow: I read a lot on a wide variety of topics both fiction and nonfiction. What I really like to do is carefully choose a few books or magazines to read at one time depending on how I am feeling at that moment. Painting was mentioned already above. I have had a life long interest in nautical and model ship building. My abilities to put together historically accurate models and paint pictures allows me to create dioramas that merge these two interests. Historical simulation games fascinate me because they make history come alive. Nearby there are Tamanend Park in Southampton and Tyler State Park in Newtown PA. I take walks in both locations as frequently as possible. I find being in these natural settings emotionally and spiritually uplifting.
Interviewer: How do you listen to people’s problems day in and out? It would drive me crazy.
Stephen Britchkow: There is a risk that can come from doing therapy too many hours a week. I maintain my own sanity by living a balanced life that includes hobbies and interests (mentioned above) exercise, I belong to a health club and spending time with family and friends. It helps immensely that I find joy in being a psychologist. The threat of burn out can be very real if I did not place a limit on the number of hours that I work with clients. I schedule no more than twenty-five clinical hours a week.
Interviewer: Today many people are concerned about the threat of terrorism. Do you have any advice about how people can talk to their children to reassure them?
Stephen Britchkow: Children can sense how worried and insecure adults are about terrorism if they are with them a lot. Acknowledge honestly to yourself first how much this has effected your life. It might help to write these disturbing thoughts down and discuss them with other adults who are close to you. Your neighbors and friends can be good sources for support and healing. After all, what has been violated is our collective sense of security. Everyone shares similar apprehension. None of us are alone with fears about terrorism.
Children will appreciate your honesty. Encourage them to talk or draw pictures that express their concerns and feelings. Avoid over exposure to graphic media coverage on the TV. Watching repetitive news stories about terrorists from around the world tends to make the actual threat to us more immediate and likely to happen than is the case. Something positive to take away from all of these threats that children should hear is the message that life is precious, not to be taken for granted. It is important to love and cherish whatever time we have available to spend together. This is good for all of us to remember regardless of what evil acts are committed against our communities.
Interviewer: I would like to go a little deeper with this. What would help them make this decision?
Stephen Britchkow: There may be no substitution to actually setting up an initial session and getting your own first hand impressions. Others have told me that I have an innate ability to be a healer. People feel calmer and better after meeting with me. Providing therapy requires me to do a lot of active research. I do routine testing for depression and anxiety and for other conditions on an as needed basis. People concerned about adult ADHD should also be aware of the specific evaluation and treatment I provide. Every case poses its own unique challenges. It takes considerable effort from my clients and I to achieve over time the needed skills, knowledge and insight to reach their goals. I am totally committed to doing this work which I also find spiritually rewarding.
Interviewer: Why have you provided the option for clients to be seen in their homes or offices?
Stephen Britchkow: For over twenty years being a psychologist, I have worked in both settings and compared the differences. The home is usually where people feel more at ease talking about very sensitive issues. Family members potentially can support the client and work out differences. As a clinician, being in the environment where people live out their lives and work provides a lot of useful information and insight. This allows me to learn more rapidly how to help couples and families live harmoniously and work better together. People also lead very busy and stressful lives, so coordinating schedules to arrive at a psychologist’s office can be difficult. For some it is more than just a convenience that I travel to their homes, sometimes it is a necessity. Some people have difficulty leaving their homes and driving.