Glenn Olds, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist & Certified Group Psychotherapist
Time and time again I’ve witnessed the power that a single therapy session can have to fundamentally transform the way we view ourselves and interact with the world. Many of the people that come to my office have had some experience with therapy in the past but are looking for a way to move beyond just telling old stories to finding real change within themselves and in their lives. To this end, I use an active experiential approach to therapy where my job is to help you to move beyond old stories and patterns towards greater clarity, confidence and vitality. In session, I am actively engaged and utilize a mindfulness-based approach to help my clients experience an authentic encounter with themselves.
I have found this approach to be highly effective in working with a wide variety of symptoms including depression, anxiety, relationship issues, internet addiction, procrastination, ADHD and bereavement. Beyond just treating symptoms, this approach is a powerful tool for working on existential issues related to identity, purpose and motivation, for developing healthy assertiveness, learning to be more compassionate to oneself and others and unlocking latent creativity and productivity.
In addition to my work as a clinician, I also enjoy teaching and training. I’ve taught locally as an adjunct professor at St. Edwards, led a number of training workshops around the country for new therapists and have presented on psychology-related topics internationally. I also see myself as a lifelong student and am strongly committed to professional development and the continued honing of my craft. I have specialized training in couples therapy (Stan Tatkin’s PACT), and group therapy (SCT, Modern Analytic). Most recently, I’ve begun Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing training, an approach that is a powerful tool for helping people to gain freedom from past trauma.
I’m a big believer in the idea that in order to help others we have to learn to take care of ourselves first. I personally strive to put this into action by maintaining a healthy work-life balance as well as prioritizing personal growth activities and outside interests in order to ensure that I am able to be fully present with my clients when I’m in session. Many of the people that I work with are also “in the field” (therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians and other health-care related professions). Self-care is particularly important for this population because of the the risks of empathy fatigue and vicarious trauma. I also really enjoy the coaching and mentorship aspect of helping these professionals to find their distinctive “clinical voice.”
Areas of Clinical Interest
I have particular interest and experience in working with adolescent and young adult issues, depression, anxiety, relationship, self-esteem, and internet addiction or video game addiction. One of my specialties is working with young adults as they navigate issues such as identity, relationship, self-esteem, emotional maturation and sometimes internet addiction or video game addiction.
Here is an excerpt from a interview that I recently gave on increasing self-esteem in teens:
“What are some tips for teens on increasing their self esteem?”
I believe that in order to have a strong and stable self-esteem; you must also have a clear and congruent sense of self. What does it mean to have a sense of self? I find that people with a well developed sense of self have an accurate view of their strengths and their limitations and are able to see both as important parts of a unique and evolving identity. They have questioned their beliefs and have clarity of purpose in life. They are open to experiencing the full range of human affect and perceive these emotional states as part of an integrated whole. On the other hand, people with a poorly formed sense of self typically either have a distorted view of their personal attributes or have self-imposed rules about who they should be with little regard for, or an active avoidance of, who they really are.
There is simply no other relationship that has the same potential power to radically transform our lives than a committed relationship. When we know unquestionably that our partner has our back we are able to live more boldly. When we feel loved unconditionally by our partner this love spills over into our relationships with our children, our friends and ourselves. When we feel safe to be vulnerable with our partner we are able to open up and maybe feel truly seen for the first time.
Roughly a third of my practice is devoted to working with couples. In my work with couples I draw on three main influences. The first is my own experience of having been in a committed relationship for over fifteen years. This experience has given me a first hand perspective on what it takes to maintain the love and passion through life’s many challenges and transitions. The second is a foundation in Attachment Theory. Attachment Theory posits that the early emotional experiences with our primary caregiver create a template that determines how we will respond to our partner, particularly during times of stress in adulthood.
The third influence is the growing body of science within the field of interpersonal neurobiology. The brain is a highly complex assemblage of neural structures that relies on the free flow of energy and information to function optimally. When we feel safe we are able to be playful, creative, mindful, curious and vulnerable — all the things that make for a loving and fulfilling relationship. During times of stress and conflict this integrated functioning begins to break down and we revert to the primitive survival reflexes of fight, flight or freeze.
Unfortunately many of the couples that come to see me have been trying to have the most delicate nuanced conversations of their marriage with essentially the brain of a reptile! If this level of stress and conflict has been chronic for the couple they may not even realize that a different kind of communication is possible. My work in session is to help each partner to gain more awareness of their own neurology and what triggers these survival mode states. Equally important is the work of helping the couple to learn how to recognize these states in our partner and how to help our partner to return to a feeling of safety and integration.
Internet Addiction & Video Game Addiction
Over the past decade, I have noticed that an increasing number of my clients struggle with issues related to internet addiction. Internet addiction includes social media, gambling, pornography and video game addiction. In some cases, internet addiction has reached the point where it negatively impacts sleep and school or work performance. For others the overuse manifests more subtly so that the term internet addiction might not even apply. In either case, my clients feel that their internet use is consuming valuable free time that they wish could be spent on ultimately more fulfilling pursuits such as creative projects, more time with friends and family or personal/professional growth. I have found my approach to be highly effective in helping people break out of habituated patterns associated with these types of internet addictions. I particularly enjoy working with my clients to understand how behaviors associated with internet addiction are actually driven by unmet needs and are often an expression of latent talents.
Because of the relational nature of my work, I am a strong believer in the power of group therapy. I have served on the board of the Austin Group Psychotherapy Society (AGPS) and an active member in the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) and am receiving training in the Modern Analytic modality. The group experience provides members with a number of unique features that make it an excellent adjunct to individual therapy. Within the therapy group, people tend to socially engage in ways that are familiar. By helping members to slow down and encouraging a culture of curiosity and exploration, group members have the opportunity to become aware of their own interpersonal dynamics and then explore new modes of engagement. Additionally, almost all of us are curious to know how we are perceived by others. Group provides members with an opportunity to give and receive this gift of authentic feedback within a safe, supportive environment. I currently lead three psychotherapy groups, one of which is specifically for young adults.
Growing up in a variety of different countries provided me with the opportunity to witness firsthand that perceptions of psychological health can differ widely between cultures. Despite these differences, one uniting characteristic I observed was the desire for human contact—an observation which contributed to my later interest in multiculturalism and interpersonal psychology, as well as couples work. For my undergraduate education, I attended Middlebury College in Vermont where I studied environmental science. It was at Middlebury where I met my wife, Tori. Together we traveled to Texas A&M where we both received our Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. Though my field of study shifted from the environment to psychology, I still have a strong interest in issues of sustainability, stewardship, and environmental education. Each summer Tori and I enjoy spending some time at the family farm in the Northeast Kingdom putting these concepts into practice. The creative process is also something that I highly value. In my free time here in Austin, I enjoy writing, sculpting and landscaping.