Clinicians on the Couch: 10 Questions With Psychologist Ellen Toronto
In our monthly series, clinicians give us a rare glimpse into their lives. They reveal the surprises, challenges and rewards of being a therapist. They also share personal tidbits, including if they’d choose the same path the second time around and how they cope with stress.
This month we’re pleased to present our interview with Ellen Toronto, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Toronto has nearly 40 years of experience in the psychology field, and is a founding member and past president of the Michigan Psychoanalytical Council.
Toronto writes the Psych Central blog “See-Saw Parenting,” which explores “being a parent and the life-changing and ‘soul-full’ commitment it requires.”
She’s also co-author of the book Family Entanglement: Unraveling the Knots and Finding Joy in the Parent-Child Journey, a field guide with insights and tools for traversing the intricacies of parenthood, from surviving the early years to coping with an empty nest.
Learn more about Toronto at her website.
1. What’s surprised you the most about being a therapist?
I think I have been most surprised by the courage that some people have who have grown up in very difficult circumstances. They want to make something good of their lives. They want to rise above their circumstances, and they are deeply motivated to change. It is amazing to see.
2. What’s the latest and greatest book you’ve read related to mental health, psychology or psychotherapy?
Rather than naming a single book I would say that the relational perspective in psychoanalysis has made a significant and very beneficial change in the way that we think about treatment. That is, it is not therapist to patient but therapist with patient. Therapist and patient are working together — focusing on the patient’s issues — but very aware that both are subject to the human condition.