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James Gray

Featured Therapist Interview

You can find Doctor Gray and other CBT clinicians in our Find A Therapist directory. He specializes in eating disorders. His clinical focus is on the treatment of OCD, trichotillomania, and skin picking. He practices in Washington, DC.

To find others just like him, click on PTSD, OCD, and GAD in the specialties areas. Please note that specialties are “inclusive” so if you select PTSD and OCD, therapists who treat PTSD and/or OCD will appear. Locations are “exclusive” so if you select Los Angeles, only therapists working in LA will appear. Consider using California instead of LA if you are willing to travel beyond the city’s confines but don’t want to type each community.

James J. Gray was born in Brooklyn, New York; he attended Maryknoll Seminary, majoring in Philosophy and Theology. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fordham University in 1967. Dr. Gray then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Behavior Therapy at SUNY Stony Brook through 1968. For the next two years he was an associate professor at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia, after which he joined the American University faculty in 1970, where he is Professor. His area of research is the cultural context of eating disorders. His clinical focus is on the treatment of OCD, trichotillomania, and skin picking.

Congratulations on being the ABCT Featured Therapist. The Clinical Directory and Referral issues committee has developed a series of interview questions that we would like you to respond to.

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

When did you begin your practice?

I began my independent clinical practice in 1967 in Philadelphia and have been in continuous private practice ever since.

Do you have a specialty?

I specialize in treating OCD, hair-pulling, and face picking. These three disorders make up about 40% of my practice. My research area of interest is the social context of eating disorders and a fair amount of my practice is also the treatment of eating disorders.

What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?

My personal strengths as a practitioner come from many years of experience practicing and teaching CBT and psychotherapy. I can integrate CBT into a therapy that activates the common factors of psychotherapy especially the Rogerian triad.

What is one method you use to promote your practice?

Make sure my listings are on websites like ABCT and TLC (Trichotillomania Learning Center) and are up-to-date.

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

I have been an ABPP since 1972 – and encourage my students to seek diplomate status.

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

Become known as an expert in treating some specific, but frequently occurring, disorder, like OCD or depression.

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

Feeling Good by David Burns
Learned Optimism by Martin Selligman

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

How to Build a Thriving Fee for Service Practice (1999) by Laurie Kolt – Academic Press.

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

I am a full-time faculty member in the Department of Psychology at American University in Washington, DC, where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses, including supervision of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Practicum and the Psychotherapy course.

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?

I subscribe to and read the following journals: Behavior TherapyCognitive and Behavioral Practice, International Journal of Eating Disorders, Clinical Psychology Review, and Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice.

Where do you earn your continuing education credits?

I attend workshops at APA and ABCT.

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

Who was your mentor?

I was fortunate to have both Leonard Krasner and Gerry Davison as my mentors in ’67-’68, where I did a post-doctoral fellowship in behavior therapy at SUNY Stony Brook. During the next two years (’68-’70), I was an Assistant Professor at Hahnemann Medical School, and I was able to attend weekly case conferences with Joseph Wolpe and Alan Goldstein, both of whom were at Temple University.

What is the last book you read?

The last book I read was Feeling Unreal by D. Simeon and J. Abugel – as a resource for treating a client with severe depersonalization and derealization symptoms.

How do you avoid burn out?

Through varied activities, mixing up research, supervision, teaching, and my practice, plus active involvement with my children and grandchildren, a James Joyce Irish Literature Group, and swimming.

Do you have any other “talents?”

I’m a good swimmer.

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

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

I believe the field of behavioral therapies will continue to stand in opposition to popular and novel treatments that are unverified and/or unverifiable; to get on the news and make this distinction clear. Most of the public will prefer treatments that have empirical support if that information is available.

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

How long have you been a member of ABCT?

I have been a member of AABT/ABCT since the late sixties.

How has ABCT helped you professionally?

Immeasurably, by providing me with an organization of like-minded practitioners.

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

Educating its members through periodicals, workshops and convention presentations, and to be up-to-date on the best CBT treatment available.

What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?

The journals, the annual convention, and the referral list.

What service(s) are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?

I can’t think of any.

How do you see the future of ABCT?

Offering to the public an alternative to unverified pop and fringe therapies.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

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