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An Incomplete List of Everything Wrong with Therapist Education, An Interview with Diane Gehart, LMFT

An interview with Diane Gehart, LMFT, on what works in therapy and where the field is headed. Curt and Katie talk with Diane about the overwhelming amount of information new therapists must learn in school and how this impacts their confidence. We also explore how the field is moving towards synthesizing theories and how this will impact future clinicians.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

Interview with Diane Gehart, LMFT

Diane Gehart, Ph.D. is Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling Programs at California State University, Northridge and has a private practice in Agoura Hills, California. She has authored several professional books including Mindfulness for Chocolate Lovers: A Lighthearted Way to Stress Less and Savor More Each Day, Mindfulness and Acceptance in Couple and Family Therapy Mastering Competencies in Family Therapy, Theory and Treatment Planning in Counseling and Psychotherapy.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Who Diane Gehart is and what she has (and continues) to contribute to the field.
  • Diane discusses what is wrong with therapist education and how it impacts newer therapists.
  • How we can help students feel more confident when they enter the field, while still providing a good education.
  • The abundance of theories students need to learn in graduate school and how the future of the field will be synthesis of theories.
  • How the synthesis of theories will impact testing for licensure.
  • Diane discusses how focusing on client outcomes and finding quality training can support confidence in new clinicians.
  • How cultural considerations can be included in the synthesis of theories.
  • Using the client’s reality/perspective to make therapy work, rather than focusing on interventions.
  • Explore how different parts of the field (e.g., clinicians, researchers, educators) contribute to what is wrong with therapist education.
  • The need for synthesized information to be more widely available to make more competent therapists.
  • Balancing helping clinicians to feel more confident while also encouraging them to be self-motivated to learn.
  • What are the best things clinicians can do right now to improve their confidence?

Our Generous Sponsors:


The Healthcasters is a podcasting course and community designed for therapists in private practice and therapists turned coaches + consultants that’s supported the successful launch of over 270 podcasts. Wanted to tell you guys a little bit what’s included in the Healthcasters podcasting course. It includes simple step by step videos to take your podcast from idea to one that generates income when it launches. Also includes cheatsheets and templates Melvin uses for the Selling The Couch podcast whether its scripts to reach out to guests or templates to let guests know a podcast is live.  We recently released the Podcast Episode Tracker.  This simple sheet helps you keep your podcast episodes organized whether you want to reference them later or re-purpose the content in the future.  You can also choose to upgrade after purchasing the course to a community of over 250 other therapist podcasts.  This also includes monthly group and 1 on 1 coaching calls with Melvin.  You can learn more about Healthcasters at (enter the promo code “therapyreimagined” at checkout for $100 off the listed price).

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Diane Gehart

Therapy That Works

Mastering Competencies

Mindfulness at Our Schools

Diane on YouTube

Relevant Episodes:

You DO NOT Have to be a Thought Leader

Reigniting Therapy

How to BE a Therapist

Unlearning Very Bad Therapy

Showing Up for Your Clients

Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined Conferences

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Full Transcript (autogenerated):

Curt Widhalm  00:00

This episode of the Modern Therapist Survival Guide is brought to you by The Healthcasters.

Katie Vernoy  00:04

The Healthcasters is a podcasting course and community designed for therapists and private practice and therapists turn coaches and consultants that supported the successful launch of over 270 podcasts. Learn more about The Healthcasters at and enter the promo code therapyreimagined at checkout for $100 off the listed price.

Curt Widhalm  00:26

Listen at the end of the episode for more information about The Healthcasters.

Curt Widhalm  00:29

You’re listening to the Modern Therapist Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings to support you as a whole person and a therapist. Here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm  00:45

Welcome back modern therapists this is the Modern Therapist Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast about all things therapists things that we do the places our field is where it’s going. And we are once again joined by one of our therapy reimagined 2021 speakers Dr. Diane Gehart LMFT talking about the future of psychotherapy. And this is something where we’re really excited to always look forward of where we’re going. And for our longtime listeners know that we kind of try to push the envelope here with the things that we do on the podcast with our conference. It’s always wonderful to have like minded people, and not making lots of stupid jokes start this because Diane’s my boss over at State University, Northridge. So thank you for joining us today. Thank you so much for having me.

Katie Vernoy  01:44

We’re so excited to have you here. And we start each of our interviews with this question. Who are you? And what are you putting out into the world?

Diane Gehart  01:53

Wow, wow, that is a that’s a big question. I’m going to try to keep it simple though. I’m Diane Gehart. I am a licensed marriage Family Therapist I have been a professor of family therapy for I’m coming up on my 25th year of teaching full time, I currently run the family therapy program at CSUN. And Curt is our amazing law & ethics instructors. So it’s really a pleasure to be here. And yeah, and

Curt Widhalm  02:22

I’m just jumping in. I’m going to point out to one of our listeners, Dr. Ben Caldwell, She didn’t mention you. Okay, go ahead. Okay, okay. Okay,

Diane Gehart  02:32

but you teach too la & ethics classes for me, and Ben only teaches one,

Curt Widhalm  02:36

so I’m twice as good, as bad, as valuable, as valuable to me.

Diane Gehart  02:45

Let me tell you, you two are the best of the best. And so we absolutely have the best law and ethics classes of any MFT program in the United States, I’m really sure of that. So yes, in addition to hiring some of the best faculty in the world, I do a lot of writing in the area around mental health theories. I’ve written textbooks, And I believe I’m the only person who’s written mental health textbooks on both family therapy and counseling theories, which are actually two different worlds, if you’re in the mental health world, that I’m really passionate about theories, and how therapists learn. I’ve done a lot of work around trying to create better ways for people to learn how to become therapists using competencies and simulation and all sorts of new things. So that’s something a bit about me and what I do, what I put out in the world,

Curt Widhalm  03:32

As an educator that has been around for quite a while. Very loaded question to start out with here. But what’s what’s wrong with therapist education?

Diane Gehart  03:45

Wow, wow, wow. Yeah, it is, it is a big question. And I have, I’ve really been privileged, I think in my career, too. And I’ve had people say, Diane, how do you end up at the forefront of everything, and I really have been blessed and lucky. I did a lot of training early in my career. And it’s really been fascinating to watch the evolution of what has happened over the last 20-30 years in the field. Because when I started my first degree with a master’s degree in counseling, and you know, we learned about eight theories, evidence based treatment was not a thing, we hardly learned, we didn’t learn about the brain and my grad program whatsoever. We even have a psycho forum class, you know, it was pretty much pick a theory that you like, learn it, you know, and when you graduated, you knew you’d go to all the conferences on this and you’re done. You felt competent. We didn’t have imposter syndrome back then. I mean, it was really different. And when I went to my MFT doctoral program, you know, again, it was about eight theories, I had to learn they overlap a lot with the counseling ones, pick one, get good at it, you know, and, you know, enjoy your career. So that’s pretty much what it was like when I started and so I just finished Writing a state of the art, you know, master’s program and family therapy that, you know, meets the national COAMFTE standards that meets California licensing standards. And that meets the needs of the stakeholders, the employers in which is LA County Mental Health preseason. So I’ve made everyone really happy. And there are about 25 different theories, some traditional, some evidence based that my students are learning. And it is amazing because my students are exceptionally well trained, not just because occurred, but we have an amazing faculty, it’s an amazing curriculum. And when they leave, they are so confused, they have imposter syndrome. They they don’t know where to start, and they’re totally lost. And I sit here and I watch this because I know what it was like, where I started and what that look like. And now I’m looking at where students are today. And it’s this cannot continue. It’s kind of where I’m at. It’s it’s really, it’s this bizarre thing where in some ways students are getting more information than ever, but they feel less and less competent. So it’s this weird paradox. The way we have just we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for years, and we just keep adding on adding on adding on. But there’s no synthesis, there’s no integration. And it’s overwhelming students, especially at the Masters level,

Curt Widhalm  06:22

Katie, and I talk about problems in therapist training and education, we have been for several years here. And I’ve heard forever back to when we were students about you know, therapists need more training. And I’ve never heard it kind of putting the terms that you are putting it in here now of maybe, we’re throwing too much at people. And that’s what’s leading to a lot of this problem as it’s developing. What is possible as far as fixing this direction that we’re going like, what can actually be done? You’re familiar with all of these standards, you have, you know, a million different bosses, maybe not directly, but a bunch of people’s requirements that you have to be what is actually possible to kind of change the momentum to helping people feel more confident entering into our fields, while still being well educated.

Diane Gehart  07:20

And that is the $10 million dollar question, because what we have is we have, we have licensing boards. And I think our licensing process needs to be totally overhauled. It just so happens I’m in a position in my career where because I’ve been thinking about retiring, moving to another state, I have to take the national MFT exam. I’m taking it actually on July 21, this summer. And I ended up having to learn all about the national MFT exam, which has such ancient theories in it that like, they actually have been taking those theories out of my textbook, and I’m like, Oh, my God, because I’m running a class on laugh your way to licensure. And I have just been shocked and slightly horrified at how much old information like if they really want you to learn symbolic experience, because they’re great questions. It’s really easy to write, you know, exam questions around symbolic experience with doing that anymore. Just newsflash both. So it’s like surreal. It is like this trip back into the past when you look at our licensing exams, and then you have, so they’re one piece of the puzzle. And yeah, kind of like educational programs have to prepare folks for licensure, but we have very little influence on what is on that exam. So that’s one huge, very difficult piece of the puzzle to influence, you know, and then we have the accreditation standards, which I mean, they move very slowly, we have more influence on that, because they they’re more stakeholders are able to give their you know, two cents. But still, it’s a very slow process to move that. And then quite frankly, I’ve discovered as someone who directs a marriage family therapy program, it’s hard to get faculty who trained up, you know, when I tell people you need to teach these newer theories, I get this deer on the head, like, but I don’t know that theory. And I’m like, well bring yourself up. And this is a whole new, you know, situation. So the problem is we have these huge systems that are very hard to shift and change, that are very rooted in the past. And they are not evolving at the rate that practitioners need to be evolving. So it’s really a very difficult thing to do. And I’ll tell you, I’ll be I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like it’s going to be my role in the world. I know that someone else fix those systems. I mean, my solution has been as I page this other course that I’ve created, that it’s synthesis, I think the answer is going to be synthesis because if you remember back to some of your You know, grad studies courses are two reasons the EU and you’re listening to this new theory new, like, a lot like XYZ theory, a lot like, you know that that the theory will be honest to god truth is, and I’m going to say like it is yes, there’s a lot more overlap than distinction between these theories. And we have to start boiling down the core concepts in the basic brain works very simple methods that are, it’s, it’s not even integration. I mean, we’re past integration that was a couple decades ago, this is synthesis, we have to really extract from what we the knowledge base that we have, and put it into a very simple framework that a human being can use, because what we have now is almost impossible, the way we train our students and license people to the way they’re supposed to be updating themselves. It’s not, the pieces don’t fit together nicely, we’re gonna we have to synthesize this knowledge base in a much more coherent way.

Katie Vernoy  11:02

With this synthesize knowledge base, it seems like it would come down to very common interventions, I’m thinking kind of the kind of the common elements of therapy, and to me, it seems like that would be very helpful. And it would also mean that folks would then have to study differently for these licensing exams. Because we’re very attached to these intricate theories with the titles that they have for the same thing, you know, they’ve renamed it save slightly tweaked it. And so to me, it seems like there would be a lot of pushback. So for the therapist, you’re describing something that is very empowering, I learned what therapy is and what we commonly see as effective. And what we see on the educational side is bureaucracy and ego and hubris, holding into these very distinct theories that, you know, it just seems like well, I, you know, to keep my job I have to publish. And so now I’m going to create a theory. And now everybody’s going to have to learn this theory. And I’m now committed to this theory, and I’m not going to let it go.

Diane Gehart  12:11

So, you know, I actually think there’s a lot of different layers here. So I, I actually think I’m working right now on developing, I just call it therapy that works, because if you call it anything else, any theoretical term, we are so divisive. in this field, you’re postmodern your system is or your, you know, your psychodynamic or your CBT. And that’s, and then you’re these little cancer all fighting with each other. And it’s just like, it doesn’t need to be like that I actually think you should be using every theory is, you know, what we’re dealing with all of human suffering in this world, you know, and it is you need every bit of wisdom you can find. And so I think we’ve created a lot of artificial tensions and wars that are not actually helping us serve our clients, by, you know, dividing up into these little camps is kind of what it feels like to me. And, and so, you know, when I first started writing my textbooks, I was very deliberate in how I approached this because I wasn’t a camp I really was, I’m, you know, in the postmodern world, that’s, you know, kind of was my camp. And it was interesting, one of the parts of the postmodern world is this concept of appreciative inquiry, where you learn and use curiosity and really appreciating what’s good about the others. And I very intentionally when I started writing, my textbook said, I am going to approach every single theory that I have, and I had biases, I absolutely did. With appreciative inquiry, somehow, these ideas were important enough to really stand out. And I’m going to figure out what it is about each single one, you know, and as I did that, I was really surprised, honestly, the how I found something really wise in each of these approaches over the years, and so on, begin to see a lot of these connections. And so I think, learning to appreciate those, but now we have so many, it’s like you’re lost, unless you’re lucky like me, and you’ve had 30 years to slowly piece together the knowledge base of the field. For those who are coming into this. It’s just one on all overwhelming, I think for everybody. So when it’s, you know, I actually think we’re at a place where we can, you know, create structures. It’s more like a method where you take out even most of that theoretical language, because there actually is a skeleton underneath it all I can’t quite describe but I think in a podcast, but there is a skeleton, I call it, it’s like that you can begin to see. And every single theory kind of maps on top of this basic skeleton and when you approach it that way, you begin to see those connections. And so it’s much easier to make sense of the many sources of wisdom and knowledge. We have in this field

Curt Widhalm  15:01

almost kind of common factors of building from there that there’s many factors that we use, regardless of what we do. And the rest is kind of the seasonings on in the structure of a plate of food here. Looking at this from where we can come from kind of this basic place, you know, taking this from the idealistic, you know, and how should we be trained? Like, okay, that’s gonna be, you know, decades in the making of getting a bunch of disagreeable people to agree on changing all of these systems. What can therapists do for themselves to not get sucked into all of those traps, and all of those arguments to follow a good individual training path that they can feel confident and not constantly be worried about? What I don’t know, and falling into imposter syndrome?

Diane Gehart  15:59

Well, you know, I think, finding a very solid, broad method of working, that really serves your clients that really notice whether or not you’re making a difference, like therapy should have results actually relatively quickly in treatment, you know, and so I think really focusing not just do like the theory, are you having a good time? Do you feel good about yourself? But like, are, are things changing for your clients, and to really focus on outcomes is one piece and then to, you know, really be thoughtful about what you get yourself trained in? And to learn to really be conscious about learning skill sets and making sure they work? Because the truth is, you know, looking at the common factors, right, you know, any therapy model out there just about can deliver decent outcomes. And the questions is, are you able to do that? And how do you put yourself in a position to do that well, and consistently.

Katie Vernoy  17:10

So there’s an assessment piece, but this other angle that I’m looking at, because when we go to common factors, it seems like it’s very, very clear, they’re very broad, they’re so broad that that I think that it’s, you know, it’s something that also can be a little bit confusing to just when it’s so broad, right?

Diane Gehart  17:27

Yes, yeah, common factors is too broad to be useful in the room at this point in history.

Katie Vernoy  17:32

But when you were talking about the skeleton, and that all of these theories kind of fall on this same skeleton, and, and for me, and I guess this is just for my head, when I think about kind of things that are very systemic can also be impacting the skeleton. And so if we’re looking at whether it’s systemic bias or oppression, when we’re looking at those types of things, I’m wondering if if, in creating the actual skeleton of what works and and separating out the language, if that’s a way to decrease bias, or if it’s already baked in? And if oppression is already baked? In?

Diane Gehart  18:08

Yes, yeah. I mean, in my in my system that I’ve been developing, therapy that works, I don’t have a better name. Because whatever I come up with, I know someone’s gonna hate it for some reason. But yeah, so I, you know, there’s way to analyze what happens behaviorally, emotionally, cognitively, and then at the societal level. And so to put that piece in as the fourth kind of level when you whenever you’re analyzing or assessing what’s going on with a client, but is that kind of answering what your I think it is?

Katie Vernoy  18:37

I mean, I think for me, it’s it’s something where so much of our history as a profession has been guided by

Curt Widhalm  18:45

hierarchy, structural sort of differences.

Katie Vernoy  18:50

You can continue talking, Curt, I was agree.

Curt Widhalm  18:54

It’s this fundamental shift of really empowering clients to be in control of some of this process to it’s shifting that hierarchical power that, you know, we can spend, you know, hours and hours talking about the roles of transference and countertransference. And what’s left unsaid and to boil it back to and you should totally trademark therapy that works. And then be argued with like the, you know, 3% of cases where it didn’t. But it’s embracing where mental health field has really common as far as who dictates when therapy works. Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know. We’re awkwardly not stating a question. That’s just more of Yes.

Diane Gehart  19:46

Yeah, and if you look at what really works, and there’s a ton of research behind this is you have to work within the clients reality. It has to work for them. I mean, it does have to be the client. I talked to When I when I, when I teach this approach I talk about like entering the client’s reality, it’s like their holodeck, and you’ve got to go into their holodeck into their reality to understand what is going to work from where they’re standing. It’s one of the things I’ve been realizing is in this class that I’m teaching therapy that works. I’m like, if it’s forcing me to identify what I actually do in the room, and I realized, what I’ve done is I literally turn theories inside out. And that I literally take this because the theories are written from the, like a therapist looking at a client, that’s how the theories are written. But if you really want them to work, well, you have to take the theory and like flip it inside out. And you have to apply it from within the clients construction of the world is the client under see sees it, and then it works like magic. But if you’re trying to it’s like squinting, fitting for the square peg in a round hole, right, that’s kind of what we’ve been doing. And if the client will go with our reality, that’s great. But if they don’t, which many of them don’t, then it just worked so much smoother, if you can take the knowledge we have, and have it like, enter into the clients make sense within the clients world. And it’s like, I can only describe it as like flipping it inside out.

Katie Vernoy  21:19

I think that’s so important, because with a lot of theories, and maybe this is, you know, getting back into the awkward space, but it seems like a lot of theories assume we know. And there’s that kind of paternalistic, we know what’s best for the client. And what you’re describing is really getting into the, to the space into the holodeck of the client, and really understanding from their perspective. But to do that, we have to come from a very humble and curious place, and be able to really see from their perspective, which requires so much sitting back and and active exploration versus doing interventions on clients.

Diane Gehart  22:01

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Doing interventions on clients is the least efficient way to go about this work. It just really is. I really believe, I guess what we’re describing here is, you know, obviously, I’m trained, you know, in collaborative therapy, it’s one of my specialty, and it is really still my home base. But it is so fascinating to me, if you just slow down like you described and become curious about, wow, your client makes sense of life interprets life, just asking those questions, having a client put that into words, because most of us don’t put it into words in our own head, we’re not aware of it. So someone asks us and we begin to like put all those pieces together. I really think over 80% of what I do is just that. And you know, there are other interventions that are important. You know, my favorite one to point out to everyone is the research is like exposure is the treatment for OCD folks. Like that’s all that works, right. So there are places where you need to be much more intentional about that. But it is fascinating how just slowing down being curious, entering and really under as you come to understand how the client makes sense of their life. So many things just unravel and problems get resolved or shift in pretty magical ways. So that the work of the end is like sweeping up, you know, a little bit of math on the floor, and what it feels like it’s the leftovers, but it’s so clear what you need to do.

Curt Widhalm  23:30

And a lot of this seems to be driven by the really siloed parts of our worlds, the researchers who, as Katie pointed out earlier, need to keep their jobs by publishing research and things get really boiled down there. And then the research has to inform the education so that the education is based on something and then students and new therapists get thrown out into the real world. And then they experience what you’re talking about, which is like, Oh, that’s only like 20% of what’s actually going on in the room. Is there ways to make these parts of the field less siloed, to where the researchers actually know what it’s like to sit across from people who are more complex than one diagnoses and who talk about things more than very specific symptoms of that diagnoses? To actually being able to see what the rest of complex human behavior is like.

Diane Gehart  24:30

Wow, I mean, unfortunately, as over the years I’ve been in the field, it’s become more and more siloed in the beginning, in the beginning when I was really old. And the last century is my kids are like you were alive in the century. Yeah, I was alive. Yep.

Curt Widhalm  24:46

Yep. Yep. I had a client recently as a middle schooler, who referred to the 90s as the late 1900s. And I was

Katie Vernoy  24:58

Oh dear,

Diane Gehart  24:59

yeah. Yeah. So in the last century, it was possible to be a scholar practitioner, like it was this hyphenated thing. It was foundational, especially for doctoral programs as the model, they were all supposed to be teaching us Lalalalala. But in the last 1020 years, we really said that’s not possible anymore. Because if you’re going to do a clinical trial, ie the skill set it takes to run a clinical trial, you know, which is what samsa and NIH and that’s like the gold standard to do that is a full time job. And that skill set is so different and is so advanced, if they don’t have time to be a practitioner, and to do quality research in the 21st century, what’s expected and so it’s pulling us further and further apart actually is, is kind of where we’re going. Now, I do think research really has moved the food field forward in important ways. And we really need to stay connected with the evidence base, like when I went to school, it was really considered ethical. And I guess Kurt can correct me if I’m wrong on this, it ethical to use whatever theory you thought would be great, or whatever your theory of choice was to breed OCD, I don’t think that’s ethical anymore, because the research is so clear about what works and what doesn’t. And so, so that really puts us in, I think, in a somewhat difficult, you know, spot with that sort of thing. And so, again, we have to take all of that knowledge, kind of getting back to your question, Kurt is in Reese, as well as a theory need to be synthesized, the research needs to be synthesized. And it really can be it really, it really can be I do believe I have taken a whole DSM. I’ve created this table, I don’t know, it’s probably six, eight pages long. But and I have synthesize what the research says works for each of the different diagnoses. I mean, this should be widely available. I know I’m going to work on a book. But still, I mean, we we need to get boiled down to relatively simple, you know, structures and information. And so we have to the synthesis of research, the synthesis of our theories, I also think a huge missing gaping hole in the whole field of psychotherapy is there’s a lot of motivational research on like how to just set a goal and achieve it, which we don’t even have trickling into our programs, you know, or flowing into the work that we do, which is another very important actually stream of knowledge that I think we need more of in our field.

Curt Widhalm  27:39

And to answer the ethics question that you’re asking here is parts of the ethics that most people don’t even bother to read is the preambles, which is basically like we do our things based on science. And it’s being able to distill and synthesize what the science is that, again, speaks back to what you were talking about earlier, of not overwhelming people and being able to help people in a competency based way of being able to take this education and be able to implement it with people, as clients as explorers as being able to have those timely interventions rather than just kind of like coming in overwhelmed feeling like I have to do something that needs to be justified in this note. And so I’m going to throw an intervention whether or not it fits and hope that nobody audit says,

Diane Gehart  28:41

Yeah, that is not that’s not a good place for us to be, I think, as a profession, I’d say we too.

Katie Vernoy  28:49

Yeah, when I’m listening to this, I like the idea of distilling things down to synthesizing them into competency based steps, those types of things. I also recognize that there’s an evidence base that we want to pay attention to, I guess the the place I get held up a little bit, and this is something where I think there’s a an important tension, I think it’s gone too far, one direction, and I probably was being educated in a similar time where there was a theories. And so it seems very doable to me. And I’m not, I’m not facing the 20 theories, right. So I fully recognize my bias. But there is an importance for therapists to also make some of the decisions on their own. And and I worry that if we distill these things down too far, that therapists will be doing things they don’t necessarily have the background with the evidence base and why they’re doing what they’re doing. And that, to me, potentially, is problematic if the the research base has its own issues, right. I mean, I don’t know if I’m asking an intelligent question here. But I think when we’re when we’re trying to simplify something down to teach people how to do a thing. I think there still is value and Having an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and the the broad complexity of what’s behind it all? And so how do I guess I guess the question is, how do you hold that tension? If obsoleting this new this Yeah, education that doesn’t seem to exist? Yes.

Diane Gehart  30:16

Well, you know, I would say that I’m with you on that, because I’m a total theory nerd. And I can read theory forever. And I love theory. And so and I do think knowing, you know, reading, I encourage when people are saying, My, my license, or course I said, If you have time, I want you to I give them a reading list of like, 10 bucks. I’m like, No, the voices know that. Understand that. So I definitely think understanding the philosophy, but I think, and especially at the coral level, yes, we can throw them 20 theories, I’m good with that. They’ve got whatever 120 units, and they need to know the difference between Milan systemic strategic and MRI. But at the Masters level, you know, understanding strategic structural hyphenated, you know, together, as one basic theory is going in, you can, you know, and to understand those two, really, most people in practice, use both of them together, you know, but on the licensing exam, because it’s easier to write questions, we have people like memorizing and these tiny little boxes. And so we need to find, like a happy middle ground, because yes, you’ll, you’ll always be reading lots of theory in this field, there’s no way to get I don’t think, in my opinion, and you should be reading lots of research, too. But it’s creating structures, that it’s where it’s humanly possible for people to take in that information. It’s almost it’s ironic that at a time in history, where everyone’s attention span is shorter, and shorter, and smaller and smaller, we are throwing more and more and more at people. And it none of it sticking in a meaningful way. And so we have to find, I think we really need to start distinguishing between the master’s and doctoral level of training, and what is learned at each level. But, you know, I, here I am with 30 years of experience in training, and I have been training trainers for like, 20 years, right. And I’m looking at what is on the list of to know, for the licensing exam, which you know, you do that early in your career, and you kind of forget about it, but having to go back and do it has been so educational. I’m like, this is insane. This is I look at the knowledge statement. And I’m like, This isn’t like humanly possible. This is awful. And I am even telling some of my students like 10% of the stuff like you would have to study so many hours to be able to analyze any research study they possibly could put in front of you. It’s not worth it missed those, you just need to get a 70%. Like, don’t even worry about it. So we it’s like it’s like throwing we’re throwing everything, you know, at these poor folks taking exams and expecting them to memorize far more than is we know, based on our new neurobiology is really reasonable to be expecting.

Curt Widhalm  32:54

Where can people practically go from here, when it comes to getting better and working with our clients?

Diane Gehart  33:02

Well, I do think you need to really think about and you know, your individual journey as a clinician and getting to how you want to move forward, because there are options, there are different options. But in general, I think, learning one really solid theory, well, that really makes sense. And that you can actually get training in you know, I talked to some people who claim that there’s a therapist, I’m like, which could you training, and they’re like, Oh, I read some books, I’m like, that that’s not training folks. You need to really invest in a program that will be, you know, intense in depth where you learn some skills. And so there are definitely a number of them out there. But I think really making sure and just focusing on that not getting distracted by everyone else telling you what else you should be doing or my bet what might be better, like pick one stick with it, do it well master that and look for results.

Katie Vernoy  34:01

So there’s a lot that you were talking about that was either in development or that you’ve already created and and so I’m sure that people would want to get in touch with you and talk through these things with you. So where can people find you?

Diane Gehart  34:15

Well, I have started what I call the Institute for therapy that works and so you can find it at or, I do have a course you know where I actually teach this method, it’s the best word I can come up with the moment for trying to really find a way of working that synthesizes uses everything you know, you can pick whatever other theories you want to use, but to really create a holistic structure from beginning to end that really grounds folks and what they’re doing so I’m very excited about that. And it’s funny because that’s the I have one side of this one project that’s synthesizing every now all the knowledge and it’s really funny. On the other hand, I do have this laugh, your way to license your course that is going to teach you all the different silos that you need to know. And it’s a very kind of bizarre, actually as the instructor of both courses. One is how many little teeny tiny theories Can I teach you? And then where’s the master theory? So, I offer both options.

Curt Widhalm  35:14

We will include links to those in our show notes. You can find those at And you can check out the therapy reimagined conference where Dr. Gehart will be helping us out and talking about the future of therapy there. You can find out more information about that and all the latest up to date news at or follow us on our social media. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy and Dr. Diane Gehart.

Katie Vernoy  35:45

Thanks again to our sponsor, The Healthcasters

Curt Widhalm  35:48

I wanted to tell you guys a little bit of what’s included in The Healthcasters podcasting course it includes simple step by step videos to take your podcast from idea to one that generates income when it launches also includes cheat sheets and templates Dr. Melvin Varghese uses for the selling the couch podcast, whether it’s scripts to reach out to guests templates to let guests know that podcast is live. The recently released the podcast episode tracker the simple sheet helps keep your podcast episodes organized, whether you want to reference them later or repurpose them for content in the future. You can also choose to upgrade the purchase of course the community of over 250 other therapists podcasts. This includes a monthly group one on one coaching calls with Melvin and you can learn more about The Healthcasters, it’s selling the couch comm join The Healthcasters

Katie Vernoy  36:38

Enter the promo code therapyreimagined at checkout for $100 off the listed price at

Curt Widhalm  36:48

Thank you for listening to the modern therapists Survival Guide. Learn more about who we are and what we do at You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any of our episodes.

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