Dr McHughs Pic


I am a licensed psychologist with an office in Overland Park Kansas. I have been a psychologist now for over forty years, and I have practiced in the Kansas City area for most of that time. However, I recently retired from full-time practice, and now see patients only one to two days per week.

Nevertheless, if you have found your way to this page, perhaps you are looking for a therapist to help you deal with depression, anxiety, or other emotional problems, or to help you improve your relationships. If so, perhaps I can help.

I have created this web page to educate prospective patents about who I am and the services I offer. Also, I will soon be adding a link for patients to schedule appointments online!

My Approach:

In working with individual patients, and sometimes with couples, I employ a cognitive-behavioral approach. However, sometimes cognitive therapy is confused with positive thinking - it is much more than that.

Depression, anxiety, anger, and many other emotional and behavioral problems are often rooted in underlying cognitions - habitual ways of conceptualizing one's self, other people, and certain situations or events. Often these cognitions are subtle and perhaps not even fully conscious. When dealing with depression, anxiety and other emotional problems, it is important to identify the underlying cognitions, and to learn how these cognitions developed over time.

Sometimes, the process of just expressing feelings and exploring underlying cognitions leads to change. At other times, a difficult re-ordering of interpretations and perceptions is necessary. Often changing habitual ways of behaving or interacting with others is also helpful. On occasion I employ self-hypnosis to help patients accomplish these tasks.

Of course, counseling and therapy are often most effective when the patient is also obtaining appropriate psychiatric and/or medical treatment. It is my good fortune to know and have as referral resources a number of excellent psychiatrists and excellent primary-care physicians.

With Couples:

My approach with couples depends to a large extent on the problems they bring to the therapy. However, perhaps it is useful to for me to describe how I approach serious marital conflict.

When two people are involved in an intimate relationship for a long period of time, they develop habits in how they relate to each other. If the relationship is characterized by conflict, certain words, phrases, facial expressions, and voice tones come to elicit defensiveness and irritation regardless of the topic of discussion. At that point, conflict itself becomes a habit, and the couple become trapped in cycles of argument, angry silence, and avoidance.

My job in such cases is to help couples identify the triggers for conflict, and then to change their characteristic way of talking to each other and of dealing with problems. But change is usually difficult, and often some of the same cognitive-behavioral therapy methods described above are necessary.

My Profession:

I have had patients remark from time to time that I must get tired of hearing people´s problems. Quite to the contrary, I feel privileged to have known so many brave people who struggle everyday against difficult situations and emotions, striving to find a better life. I believe that we learn the most in adversity, and I have often witnessed truly remarkable growth in the people who have walked into my office. It has been and continues to be a pleasure to be able to offer some guidance and support to those who are seeking to find a better way ahead.

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