July 31, 2024, is the deadline to apply for CFR’s Fall 2024 Postgraduate Certificate Program cohort in Marriage & Family Therapy and Clergy track. Apply here.

Getting to know July’s Featured Therapist, John McWilliams, MSS, LCSW

Every month, Council for Relationships highlights one of our staff therapists on the blog. Read our interview below with July’s Featured Therapist John McWilliams, MSS, LCSW.

What makes you unique as a therapist and person?

Well, I am not sure that I am particularly unique but I often surprise people with my story. I was a CPA for almost 20 years before deciding to become a therapist. Some people are curious about the juxtaposition of those two sides of myself, analytical and intuitive at the same time. I think that it helps me be a better therapist.

What is your role here? 

I am a part-time staff therapist working at the Center City office. I work with individuals, couples, and families.

What is something your clients would say about you?

I think, and certainly hope, that my clients would say that I bring my whole self into our sessions and fully engage with them during each session. I am not a completely blank slate. This means that who I am mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually is in the therapy room, joining with them to explore their questions and help them pursue their goals.

Is inner peace real? If so, how can one work towards this?

I believe that inner peace is real but is not the same as having a problem-free existence. I think that the paradox is that we experience more inner peace by accepting that we will live through periods of distress rather than attempting to resist distress or make it go away. So to me, working toward inner peace is to work toward acceptance of all things, mostly ourselves, but also of others in our lives and our life circumstances in any given moment. And acceptance is not the same as passivity or liking a particular situation. This is a difficult distinction for most of us. Acceptance sometimes means that I can and need to work on what needs to be changed and in other cases, it means to accept that I must learn to live with a situation exactly as it is.

What is one piece of advice you would like to give people who may be struggling emotionally and would like to seek counseling but may not be ready?

I would talk out of both sides of my mouth, lol. First, I would say trust yourself. If you know that you are not ready, it’s ok. You are in charge. And then I would say that if you don’t know whether you are ready, “go for a test drive” with the understanding that there is “no obligation to buy”. ( I love cheesy metaphors!) Again, because you are in charge you can dip your toe in the water and take it out whenever you want (another cheesy metaphor!). By helping clients empower and advocate for themselves in their relationship with me, I believe we co-create a model that they can then use in their other relationships.

What makes CFR special?

So many things! Council for Relationships is unique in that it both trains clinicians at the graduate and post-graduate levels while also providing clinical care to the community at ten different locations across the Delaware Valley. Many of our most experienced therapists teach in these programs and were with Council when family therapy gained prominence in the 1980’s. Council for Relationships also serves the community through its commitment to Veterans Services, Community Partnership Initiatives, and the Transcending Trauma Project. I feel lucky to work alongside such a distinguished group of educators and practitioners every day!

What is your dream job? (Not the one you have now!)

Hmm, I am in awe of professional actors and wanted to be one when I was a kid. After my first play, in kindergarten, I told my mother, “I’m on my way to Hollywood!” Now, not so much, haha! If I couldn’t be a therapist, I would love to be an architect, designing either interior or exterior residential spaces. What a great way to use one’s creativity to make people happy.

john mcwilliams therapist philadelphia

John McWilliams, MSS, LCSW
Staff Therapist
(215) 382 – 6680 ext. 4205

Learn more about John on his staff profile, or you can make an appointment with John by clicking here.