Featured Therapist for January, Eric Devon
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists. This month’s Featured Therapist is Eric Devon, MD. Learn more about him in the below interview!
What do you consider to be the goal of therapy? What do you help your clients work towards?
I believe that the highest goal of therapy is to understand oneself on the most intimate level. It is comparatively easy to get to know someone else and to experience outward feelings of love, admiration, and compassion. To learn to experience these emotions towards oneself can be like scaling a mountain: grueling, filled with obstacles and setbacks, but incredibly rewarding once you’ve reached the top. I hope to help act as a guide on this journey for my clients.
Who is your ideal client?
There’s an old joke: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? One. But the light bulb really has to want to change.” I believe that anyone self-motivated to seek help makes an ideal client. Part of what I try to impart upon clients is that the answers they seek typically lie within themselves. Therapy just helps them to ask the right questions for the answers they seek. Therapy is really a tool of empowerment in that sense.
Why did you decide to become a therapist?
Despite the strong emphasis in medical school and residency on the biological underpinnings of mental illness, it has always been clear to me that there remain aspects to the client-therapist relationship that cannot be reliably explained. But if you have ever experienced therapy (either as a client or as a provider), the “magic” of what occurs in session is undeniable. The personal connection between therapist and client is really at the heart of where the healing begins and is what makes therapy special for me. For this reason, I have always kept therapy as a part of my practice and plan to continue to do so.
Describe a typical first session with you.
The first session is generally the most formulaic. I start by introducing myself and thanking the client for coming in. Then, I explain how in a first visit I take a detailed history and ask a lot of questions. Because there is so much information gleaned in a first session, I also explain that I will probably be typing a lot to avoid missing anything important. This is all part of being as thorough as possible but is certainly not an indicator of what the therapeutic environment will feel like! Subsequent sessions are much more client driven, where I encourage the practice of free association – expressing thoughts as they come while trying to filter as little as possible. My goal as the therapist is to tap into the client’s inner thoughts and processes as best I can. Through close listening and pointed observation, we can both then embark on the journey towards a more profound understanding.
Eric Devon, MD, is a staff psychiatrist at our University City office; he currently sees clients via online therapy. To set-up an appointment, you can reach him at email@example.com or 215-382-6680 ext. 7093.