Interview with John Harrison for the True Calling Project

Fiachra O’Sullivan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a practice in in San Francisco. Couples counseling is tough – a lot of therapists shy away from it – but Fiachra loves it.

“Love matters, and because it matters so much you’re going to feel threatened in moments where it looks like that love isn’t present.”

As a couples therapist, Fiachra has to do all of the things an experiential therapist does, but he also has to match people’s energy and actively become a part of the session.

“There is nothing I will be able to do with a couple unless we have an alliance.”

Fiachra describes himself as the typical psychotherapist cliché in that he was drawn to the field by a desire to heal his own emotional pain and suffering – he also considers this one of his greatest strengths as a psychotherapist.

“The number one qualification I have to do this work is I am another wounded human being that has managed to do my own personal work so I can help other people.”

Fiachra believes it is unbelievably powerful to be comfortable with who you are, warts and all, but it has taken him a long time to achieve that comfort. It helps people feel safe and contained.

“The most important rule for me is that nobody gets shamed. No one will ever leave my office having felt shamed.”

Fiachra is hugely influenced by Sue Johnson – the creator of Emotionally Focused Couples Training (EFT). There’s a map that allows him to keep track of where they are at nearly every moment, and “the moments where I’m not sure where we are? That’s where there’s potential magic that can happen.”

Fiachra does really important work and I appreciate having the opportunity to talk about the challenges of couples therapy, why he is launching Empathi.com, and the journey that he took to discover his True Calling. Check out Empathi.com to see what Fiachra is building and head over to TherapyWithFigs.com to learn more about his practice and read his blog.