Dr. Joe Abhold, Ph.D
I was born and raised in the small town of Freedom, WI. My bachelor’s degree is from UWOshkosh, where I was an RA and worked with other students as the co-founder of a peerassistance program. I went on to earn a master’s and doctoral degree from the University of Arkansas. While at the University of Arkansas I worked in a residential adolescent AODA treatment program, university counseling center and psychology clinic. I also completed a one-year postdoctoral internship at the Harry S. Truman VA and a state psychiatric facility in Columbia, Missouri. During this full time internship, I worked with Veterans, children, adolescents and adults in residential and outpatient settings.
When I finished my Ph.D. I didn’t know if I should go into private practice, work at a VA or do counseling work at a university. I interviewed at Ball State University Counseling and Psychological Services and was thrilled with the idea of giving back to college students in the way so many people helped me succeed in college. I cancelled the rest of my interviews and spent the next 26 years serving the college population as a psychologist. I also ran a part time private practice during my years at Ball State University where I worked with adolescents and adults.
In 1999 I became the Director of the Counseling Center at UW Oshkosh – the clinic where I received so much help as a college student. At UW Oshkosh I provided psychological services to students and employees through the EAP Program, recruited and trained counselors, social workers and psychologists, and ran a large counseling clinic. After 20 years as a psychologist providing direct srvices, I had the opportunity to become the Dean of Students at UW-Eau Claire. In this capacity I worked with students, families and the university community as they faced huge challenges, mental health crises and personal tragedies. In 2019, I decided to go back to my first love; and frankly what I’m best at – being a psychologist.My practice focuses on people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, college success, developmental transitions, identity issuesand relationship issues. I strive to work in a manner that is collaborative, nonjudgmental, and focused on achieving mutually determined goals through empirically supported treatment methods.
As a psychologist, I want to get to know you, the struggles you face and the strengths you have as a person. I’m also very keen to understand what you want to change, what has helped with your issues in the past and your thoughts on how to move forward. I want to understand you uniquely. As a clinical psychologist, I also place an emphasis on assessing and conceptualizing people’s mental health concerns. Understanding and comparing your experience with what we’ve learned in the scientific literature about populations can often lead us to consider treatment options that have been helpful for other people with similar conditions. We will also work together to understand you contextually. Understanding your present interpersonal, social, family, medical, work and living circumstances will provide insight into your resources, challenges and day-to-day life. Also, your family, personal and medical history is important – understanding the past is vital to setting course for the future. We will work together to develop a plan that takes all of these factors into account and sets goals for what we hope to achieve in therapy.
I would describe my approach as integrative, which means I combine different therapeutic tools and approaches to fit the individual needs of a particular person. I use evidence-based treatments from a number of different schools of psychology. Combining interpersonal/dynamic, cognitive, behavioral and acceptance and commitment therapy provides a comprehensive way to understand what people are experiencing and a robust toolbox of methods to help them achieve change. I am also receiving training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). You can find more information about EMDR elsewhere online (start with a google search: "EMDR meta analysis" to review the science first). Based on all of the information above, we will develop a conceptualization, goals and treatment plan together. We will discuss how long it may take and what we will do if we are not making progress. We will regularly review the treatment plan and adjust as needed. I see therapy as most effective when it is brief and episodic. In other words, we conceptualize what is going on, make a plan for change, do that work and then you go back to life to continue growing. Returning for another course of therapy is not a failure, it is just getting some guidance in another leg of your journey.
Finally, I want you to give me feedback about our work together. Interestingly, the research shows that therapists tend to overestimate how understood their client feels, the extent to which the client feels they are working on what matters most and how well the therapist’s approach fits their needs. It can be difficult to give feedback to your therapist. I don’t know about you, but I hate to ‘complain’ or give feedback even if my food is terrible at a restaurant, which is why I will regularly give you the opportunity to complete a scale to rate our sessions and provide opportunities to discuss your concerns. I hope this information gives you a better idea of what it would be like to work with me.