Joan Phillips

Joan Phillips

Joan Phillips is a counselor, art therapist, and marriage and family therapist. She maintains a private practice and teaches at the University of Oklahoma.

  • Beware of EOBO (early onset burnout)!

    Mar 29, 2010
    Spring is here and a counselor’s thoughts turn to…. escape? I can see branches of a fully blooming crabapple tree outside my office window. This can be a positive and a negative thing. A glimpse of spring flowers is a pleasant sight. But it also reminds me I am indoors and they are out- in the changing but generally more temperate climate known as Spring. Distracted thoughts can be an early warning sign not just of spring fever but of EOBO or early onset burnout… (yes I made that term up).
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  • It takes a village to raise a counselor....

    Mar 18, 2010
    One of the mysteries of life to me is why the newest and greenest counselors often get assigned the most difficult and complicated cases. In a perfect world, which of course we don’t live in, we would always gradually introduce complexity and difficulty in the cases as counselors build confidence, skills and experience. To some extent this happens- especially in pre-graduate internship settings. But just as frequently if not more so in my experience, new counselors, in supervision for licensure, often have a caseload of cases that would challenge even the most experienced among us.
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  • Pizza anyone?

    Mar 15, 2010
    Single mom, working, raising two or more children. The children have behavioral problems manifested at school which garnered referral for them for services and for the mom to attend counseling to improve parenting and deal with her own issues which often include depression, anxiety and some history of abuse of some kind. This is a common presenting problem in many communities. The referral may be court ordered if the children or family have had violent or abusive episodes. But sometimes our systems of care become one more burden on already burdened families. This mom, and maybe her live-in boyfriend or third husband, is expected to be able to get all of their kids to widely disparate appointment times and varied agencies, meet with the caseworker, hold down a job, transport kids to activities and pay the bills. And if there are glitches in this plan, then the family is “not cooperating” or is “resistant” to the services that well-meaning programs have to offer.
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  • "Theories are Like Toothbrushes..."

    Mar 04, 2010
    "Theories are like toothbrushes..... everyone has one- and nobody wants to use anyone else's." This anonymous quote was shared with me during my doctoral study and really stuck, I think because of how very truthful it feels at both an intellectual and gut level. Having been in practice now since 1977 I have gone through many iterations of various theories, as I am sure many of you have. I can actually remember when child abuse was an emerging clinical focus and when there were no personal computers in every family room and marriage. Prevailing theoretical orientations when I began work were Rogerian and Freudian. The emergence of cognitive-behavioral thinking as well as post-modern deconstructionism, narrative therapies, and now positive psychology (just to name a few toothbrushes) all unfolded over the years I have been growing as a counselor, art therapist, and marriage and family therapist.
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  • Hope is the thing with feathers...

    Feb 23, 2010
    How to help in Haiti? This is on the mind of many counselors and Americans. I think we all fantasize going directly to Haiti and kneeling down to talk to a child or parent, offering a steady presence that is comforting and problem solving, or applying our knowledge of trauma and disaster work directly. In other words we want to be counselors. But in the wake of a disaster of this magnitude are we willing to help in the ways that we can if those options are not in our immediate future? No matter what resources we have, of course donating and local efforts have great value. For example, giving time to local relief groups that then transfer goods and services directly to Haiti, or giving money to national reputable groups channeling resources appropriately. But as much as that is needed, I know I sometimes still wonder if I am doing enough- or what more can I do.
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