An interview with Ewan Gillon

How did you get into this type of work?

Well I initially started as a social psychologist, doing research on groups and disability, but after a variety of careers including bus tour guide, policy researcher and lecturer, I decided I was best suited to working directly with people. So I decided to become a Chartered Psychologist specialising in counselling and psychotherapy. It seems a long time ago now!

Don't you very get fed up listening to other people's problems?

Actually never! I really enjoy working with people to understand a particular difficulty or problem, and to look for ways of making things better. I do make sure that I don't do it all day every day as I think that really would be too much. So I also have another part-time job as Co-Director of a Clinical Doctorate course in Counselling Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Why did you set up First Psychology Centres?

Well, I have always found that psychology can seem a very strange area for many people. I set up the centre to make it as easy as possible for people to take advantage of the many therapeutic ideas and helpful ways of working that modern psychology encompasses. We are not dogmatic, and therefore offer a range of ways of working to suit every person. These include CBT, counselling, psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, coaching and even NLP.

What, in your view, is the most important thing in helping someone feel better?

What psychological research shows is that the greatest factors in 'successful' therapy are, in summary, a) the therapeutic relationship, b) client motivation and c) type of therapy used. This may seem wierd, but decades of research shows that what really counts most of all is that you get on well with the person you work with, whether you feel comfortable and trusting of them, and whether you feel they understand your difficulties and share your goals in how to deal with things. This is a good yardstick to use in finding the right practitioner to work with.

What is your view on anti-depressents?

I am open-minded. Some people find them very helpful, others less so. What I would view as important, whether or not you take anti-depressant medicines, is that you also do some type of psychological therapy to help understand and deal with the cause of the problems. But I would say that wouldn't I!

Why are you so interested in encouraging men to use therapy?

I really think it is important for men to be able to use psychology simply because I see so many health, emotional and relationship problems stemming from the ways in which we blokes are expected to button up our feelings and be the 'srtrong man' all the time. This is impossible and unfair, and has so many awful consequences. Part of helping men feel better about things is about making therapy relevant and accessible.

Do you have any interests outwith psychology?

I do, I am learning Spanish at the moment (not doing too well as yet...) and really enjoy sporty-type things. I have to be honest in that I don't have a huge amount of time as I have a young family, but I try.

What would you advise someone wishing to enter psychology as a career?

Go for it. You won't find a more rewarding or enjoyable job anywhere.

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