Therapist Spotlight: Michelle Whitlock, Psy.D.

3 min read

What do you specialize in?

I work with many areas of psychology; however, I specialize in trauma, anxiety and behavioral health management of chronic pain and insomnia. I specialized my graduate school training in treatment of trauma and anxiety related issues. I served as an Active Duty Army Psychologist and I learned quickly that the management of chronic pain and insomnia are linked with many of the initial requests patients have when coming for care. When someone is in constant pain it impacts their ability to engage in daily life, it impacts their mood, it impacts their willingness to interact with other, and it impacts their sleep. There are many interventions that can be done to reduce pain and improve sleep without having to take medication.


What do you think is important about your role as a therapist?

The most important part of my role as a psychologist is being a witness to the change happening within people. I often ask my clients to attempt to do something common, such as crossing one’s arms, in a different way to see how change feels. It’s often uncomfortable and takes time to remember to try something new. As time passes, change happens and what is new becomes more comfortable and second nature. I become the witness to the work that the person is doing both within and outside of the office and the new person they are becoming.


How do you help people, in your opinion?

I help people move past the barriers that keep them stuck through challenging the thoughts and behaviors that feel comfortable, and yet prevent us from doing what we want to do. I assist by finding those areas that need attention, and helping each client develop a new way to engaging. This could be new ways to communicating, new ways to approach problems that arise, or adjusting how one thinks about situations and the response to them. Each person will have a different end result because each person is the one who creates the plan for continued action.


What is something that you wish people knew about your specialty, or about therapy in general?

What is something that you wish people knew about your specialty, or about therapy in general?
I never get to the see the end result. I get to meet people when they feel as if they have tried everything and nothing else is working. It’s a difficult time for a person to come in and a hard step to ask for help. My job is to help someone through that time, and when they reach about 75% of where they want to be, then it’s time that we start to part ways because the rest of that movement is done on their own. They know all the skills to make the changes at that point and the rest of the work it up to them. I do not have to see the end result in order to see where a person is heading.


Name an influential person or experience in your life.

There are too many events or people to choose just one. But I can truly say the times that I was challenged the most, whether I volunteered for the challenge or I was “voluntold” – those are the moments that shaped me for the better. I do not think we can understand what we are made of or understand our potential until we have to rise to the challenge. Especially the ones where we might deem as a failure, because that meant we had the courage to try. Some of those challenges are easier to face than others, but all hold a story of what we can do.

Michelle Whitlock is located at our Great Lakes Psychology Group – Shelby Township office. To learn more about Michelle, please visit her therapist profile.