Interview With Hilary Brown PhD

How and/or why did you become a therapist?

Why did I become a therapist? There is a feeling dimension to the question and thinking strand.

When I was younger there were times when I was left to deal with things that were too difficult for a young person to manage. It was the emotional equivalent of lifting too much for your back to bear and hurting yourself in the process so that you often have a “pull” or a “twinge” when you go to carry things as an adult. That motivates me to work with people who struggle with what happened to them and who continue to be hampered by the structural damage caused by their own particular ways of coping. I like seeing blame and guilt fall away so that people can get on with their lives freer from emotional pain and comfortable with asking for the help they need.

The thinking part of the equation is that people are endlessly interesting and creative and I learn from my patients while we are working to understand their particular situation. Freud said being a psychoanalyst was like being an archaeologist, digging around to find what was there and what was missing, but I think it is like being a mix between being a curious aunt,- close but not too close, and a cartographer,- mapping where we are in time and place and opening up a dialogue about how to get through difficult terrain.

What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?

When you find yourself saying “How could she do this to me?” or “Why on earth is he behaving like that?” or “Why can’t she be like other people?” or “What would make a mother do that?”or “How could he?” or “Why can’t she get school bag ready like other children?”

If you turn the dial down on the indignation with a good friend or a supportive therapist these are often really helpful questions to answer. The process of cooling off and stepping back is often a gateway into acknowledging things you have already “clocked” but are not taking fully into account. Often we find we know the answers but are acting as if we didn’t. It isn’t that we are explaining away bad behaviour or making excuses but opening ourselves up to others and trying to make sense of the world from their point of view. This helps us to move on and to make good decisions for ourselves.


You can learn more about Dr. Hilary Brown at

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