Mental health is an important issue that often goes unaddressed; especially after a traumatic accident. We recently corresponded with Matthew Love, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist licensed in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. He received a doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Fairfield University in Connecticut. Part of Dr. Love’s clinical training was in Neuropsychological Assessment and Treatment of Sports-Related Concussions at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) in California. Currently, he operates his practice out of Fairfield, CT.
What is the primary goal of a psychologist and what attracted you to this line of work?
In my view, the primary goal of a psychologist is to help a client identify and clarify their life goals. While doing so, we work to dislodge obstacles that get in the way of them moving towards feeling more satisfied in life. Often, we become stuck in a reoccurring pattern of unhelpful thinking, feeling, or behavioral patterns that may cause us to view ourselves as ineffective to make change. I became attracted to this line of work in college- after pursuing a desire to become an environmental lawyer. I realized that I enjoyed understanding the underlying reasons for people’s decisions and helping others see their life from another perspective, allowing them to become balanced in their thinking.
How long have you been practicing psychology and what you find to be the most rewarding aspects of your work?
I have been in private practice since 2015. First as a licensed professional counselor (LPC), and then later as a licensed psychologist. It’s cliché but the “Ah-Ha! Moment” for me was when, after working with someone for some time, they start noticing a perspective shift that allows them to have a more balanced view of themselves and, as a result, a reduction in their distressing emotion to that of something more tolerable (i.e. depression/an unhelpful negative emotion to sadness to a helpful or more tolerable emotion).
Do you feel there is still a stigma that is attached to mental health issues and/or obtaining treatment and if so, what can we do to help eliminate these negative emotions or feelings?
There is not an easy answer to this question because the younger generation and the pandemic have sped up the desire for mental health support/hygiene. My practice focuses on working with people who are in a rut and can’t move forward. We focus on strengths and how to leverage them to improve areas of growth. In order to reduce stigma, we need to start talking about mental health as if it’s like going to the physical trainer. You see a physical trainer and learn some skills but the real work is done on your “days off.”
What are the most common types of accidents that people experience where they seek out your service and how do you go about assisting them?
I see a majority of concussion-related accidents, whether it’s due to a car accident or sports injury. We talk about the accident, how the accident is currently impacting them, and, most importantly, we talk about how they believe they changed to someone “not as good as before.” We deconstruct this narrative to become more flexible so that it’s about adapting to change, rather than wishing things are not how they are.
What types of treatment programs or modalities do you most often use to help accident victims in their mental health recovery and what is the average time you treat these individuals?
I use a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), developed by Albert Ellis, Ph.D. This form of therapy focuses on how the core beliefs we have about ourselves- in relation to various situations- cause our unhelpful negative emotions, not the event itself. I find this is an empowering form of psychotherapy that provides the client with a deeper understanding of oneself. The goal is to help the client restructure their belief so that they may still experience a “negative emotion” without it getting in the way of their living and so they are able to accept themselves as a whole person, rather than individual parts, which cause unhelpful negative emotions.
What advice do you have for a person who might benefit from psychotherapy but may be hesitant to start the process?
Imagine you are standing in a room without the lights on looking for the light switch. You will find the light switch a lot faster if you have another person in there helping you. It’s not easy at first, but over time you make progress and eventually find the light switch. That’s therapy.
A therapist is a collaborator.
Someone who has the training to listen to what you are saying and not saying. A person who helps you to become more aware of what your emotional and behavioral reactions mean and what you can do about them in the future.
Pro Tip: Personal injury cases that involve significant injuries sometimes require the services of a mental health expert and an injury attorney who can help in a variety of accident cases. Should you have any questions about your Connecticut accident case, please contact us.