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Arnold Freedman

Featured Therapist Interview

Meet Arnold Freedman: I have been a doctoral-level clinical psychologist for over 50 years. I spent 37 years in a VA General Medical and Surgical Hospital, 28 of which were as Psychology Service Chief. I applied the full range of assessment and therapeutic services to veterans with both physical and emotional problems. In 1970 I established a part-time independent practice, which I expanded after my retirement from the Veterans Administration in 1993.

During my career I have been exposed to a range of therapeutic procedures, from psychoanalytic to client-centered, humanistic to cognitive-behavioral. I have drawn on all of them but am primarily oriented toward a cognitive-behavioral approach. Since 1970 I have used Ericksonian hypnotherapy extensively in that model.

I assist clients with a wide variety of problems, including anxiety, depression, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder, psychosomatic and somatopsychic problems, and chronic pain. For couples and families I use Relationship Enhancement Therapy (RE). I view psychotherapy as a collaborative, creative endeavor to assist clients to discover enduring ways to modify dysfunctional thinking and behavior within their present and developing resources, so as to feel better and function more effectively. Where relationship issues play a significant role in their problems I use the RE method.

Featured Therapist Interview

Congratulations on being the ABCT Featured Therapist. The Clinical Directory and Referral issues committee has developed a series of interview questions for which we would like to hear your response.

First, we would like to know a little about your practice.

When did you begin your practice?

I started to work as a doctoral-level psychologist in the VA Medical Center in Pittsburgh in 1957. I began part-time independent practice in 1970, which I expanded when I retired from the VA in 1993.

Do you have a specialty?

My special area of interest is Ericksonian hypnotherapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.

What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?

I have had extensive experience with psychological, psychosomatic, and somatopsychic problems. This facilitates my working with people with entrenched, chronic problems who are motivated to change but who have not had much success doing so.

What is one method you use to promote your practice?

Besides advertising in the telephone book, word of mouth has been an increasingly important method by which my practice is being promoted. I have also been active in my regional and state psychological associations focusing on legislative issues, which gives me visibility.

How important are board certifications and/or credentialing programs to your practice?

I am an Approved Consultant with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Had I to do it over I would probably pursue Boards in Clinical Psychology or Hypnosis.

What “tips” can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?

Join local and state professional organizations, become active in them, and develop an area of specialization.

What sorts of literature do you make available in your waiting room that describes evidence- based therapy?

Material from ABCT, APA, and PPA .

What self-help books do you suggest to your clients?

The Anger Management Sourcebook by Schiraldi and Kerr and the Relationship Enhancement Manual by Guerney and Scuka are current favorites.

What one book do you recommend as a “must read” to improve your practice?

For me Hope & Resiliency by Short, Erickson, and Klein is the most relevant. For others it depends on their particular area of interest. That can direct the clinician to search out what is most relevant and useful for them

Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?

I teach periodically in Hypnosis workshops.

Next, we are interested in your continuing education activities.

How do you stay current with new research or advances in the field as applied to your practice?

By looking at key journals, abstracts, and the PPA listserv. I also use Psychinfo at the APA website

Where do you earn your continuing education credits?

Primarily at Hypnosis workshops, but I also attend other workshops that interest me. I am always on the lookout for Ethics workshops. I have recently done some online workshops

We would also like to know a little about you personally.

Who was your mentor?

My mentor in graduate school was Leo A. Hellmer, Ph.D. In hypnosis it was Kay F. Thompson, DDS.

What is the last book you read?

Hope & Resiliency by Dan Short, Betty Alice Erickson, and Roxanna Erickson Klein.

How do you avoid burn out?

By attempting to be selective with whom I work, being persistent in seeking alternatives when what I first do does not work, and accepting the inevitable failures that occur along with successes.

When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?

I swim regularly, listen to classical music and jazz, and visit and call my children and grandchildren. I also eat out with my wife and friends. Most of all I enjoy my Sheltie, Trudy.

Do you have any other “talents?”

I used to play the violin but not nearly as well as I would have liked to.

We are also interested in some of your views of CBT.

What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for your clients?

Help them to see that they can CHOOSE and not be stuck in their dysfunctional patterns. The emphasis on planned, constructive action is also helpful.

Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3-5 years?

Incorporation of new modalities, such as virtual reality, seems promising, but the most important thing to me is to discover where the clients are and help them find a way to feel better and function more effectively. I don’t see that changing at all for behavioral or any other therapy.

How do you use the local media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?

I have contributed articles on mental health from time to time.

Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.

How long have you been a member of ABCT?

Almost since its inception, but I don’t know the exact date. I remember buying Joseph Wolpe’s book at the APA convention in 1958 and being favorably impressed with it.

How has ABCT helped you professionally?

It has provided me with many good ideas from leaders in the field and occasional referrals through the website.

What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?

The journals and also the Special Interest Groups , such as the Anxiety SIG.

What servics are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?

I have not really missed them since I have my Hypnosis organizations and APA

How do you see the future of ABCT?

The core of skilled clinicians and researchers has helped us by their practical focus on what constitutes effective treatment. That will need to be continued for ABCT to remain viable.


Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.