Errol J. Philip, Ph.D.
ABCT Featured Therapist Interview
I am originally from Australia and relocated to the US in 2006 to complete my graduate training at the University of Notre Dame and Yale University. My research and clinical work focused on the treatment of psychiatric issues in the context of cancer. I completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where I continued my work related to cancer survivorship, and developed a further specialization in obesity and weight-control. After relocating to Southern California, a colleague and I founded the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center of Orange County, and serve our surrounding communities as general practitioners, as well as providing specialized treatment in the context of cancer and chronic disease, weight-loss, and phobias.
You can find out more about the center at www.cbtorangecounty.com
First, we would like to know a little about your practice.
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
I am a calm, humble, and patient practitioner who employs evidence-based CBT modalities in the treatment of depression and anxiety, as well as several specialized domains of health psychology. I seek to partner with my patients and provide support and guidance as they navigate their lives and seek stability and well-being.
What tips can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
There are many expected and unexpected challenges to opening a practice, and one must be patient and persevere. Professional organizations, such as ABCT, as well as nearby private practitioners, can be of great assistance and provide invaluable insight into some of the characteristics of the local area.
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
In addition to my clinical responsibilities, I maintain close relationships with research labs throughout the country. My research is primarily dedicated to treating psychiatric issues in the context of cancer and other chronic health conditions. I also mentor students who are interested in gaining exposure to research, and am currently the Book Review Editor and affiliate board member for the journal Psycho-oncology.
We would also like to know a little about you personally.
Who was your mentor?
I have been privileged to work with several mentors throughout my career, each of whom has generously given their time and expertise and enabled me to progress as a clinician and researcher. These individuals include Thomas Merluzzi, my graduate mentor at the University of Notre Dame, Jimmie Holland and Kate DuHamel at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Sean Ransom of the Cognitive Behavioral Center of New Orleans.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
My wife and I are passionate about traveling, and have dedicated our time to exploring many countries and cultures throughout the world. When closer to home, we enjoy hiking and traversing the many national parks throughout California and nearby states.
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?
One of the most promising aspects of CBT, and one that distinguishes it from some other therapies, is its focus on direct patient outcomes. Using the structured format of CBT to address patient suffering, this therapy can directly result in a better quality of life for clients who have been dealing with problems they cannot solve on their own. The potential to see suffering decrease and lives become more open, rich, and full among those struggling with debilitating phobias, depression, panic attacks, or other problems that CBT has been shown to effectively address, is the most important and rewarding aspect of being a CBT therapist.
Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3 to 5 years?
It is exciting to see how a focus on research-based therapies has informed more and more training programs, which ensures that more future clinicians will be able to disseminate behavioral and cognitive behavioral treatments in years to come. As more early-career therapists show commitment to proven treatments, more clients can obtain high quality, evidence-based care. This will benefit to our field, as well as society as a whole.
How do you use the local or social media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
As part of a team that includes the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center of New Orleans (cbtnola.com), the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center of Hawaii (cbthawaii.com), and my own clinic, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center of Orange County (cbtorangecounty.com), my partners and I believe that raising the profile of CBT in our communities, and educating the public about CBT in general, will benefit a variety of patients who are looking for effective care, whether they receive it from our clinics or not. Underwriting public radio programming, for example, has been a cost-effective way to help inform the broader audience about CBT. On the other hand, Twitter has been a very personal and direct way of connecting with other professionals, including some very active ABCT members, who have been helpful in providing referrals and other information that have helped patients.
Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
I was a member of ABCT as a training psychologist, and have now rejoined the organization as a private practitioner.
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
ABCT has provided an invaluable network of clinicians and researchers who are all dedicated to providing evidence-based care to clients. The annual meeting provides an opportunity to meet colleagues face-to-face and to learn about the exciting research and clinical endeavors that are taking place around the country. This provides important inspiration for our own work, and ensures that we are providing the very best care to our community.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
As noted above, the annual meeting and ability to network with providers has been the most valuable to us.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!