Catholic Therapist Gregory Bottaro, PsyD in Greenwich CT  
Profiles in Catholicism
 

An Interview with Gregory Bottaro, PsyD


by
Gordon Nary


 

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Gordon:  

When did you join St. John the Evangelist Basilica, and if you were recommending a parish to someone,  what are the principal reasons that you would recommend St. John the Evangelist Basilica?

     
Dr. Bottaro:

 
  We joined St. John’s about 3 years ago when we moved up to the area. Even though we’ve to the next town since then, we remain parishioners there because of the great community. The pastor is a wonderful, faithful, orthodox priest who truly pastors his people with love and truth. There are many large families there so it’s nice to worship in a parish home where you can relate to a lot of people and establish solid friendships.
     
Gordon:  

You serve as Executive Director of the Catholic Psych Institute.  Catholic psychology is a new approach to mental health and relationship challenges.  Could you provide our readers with an overview of how Catholic psychology differs from from traditional psychology?

     
Dr. Bottaro:


 
  Catholic psychology is essentially psychology the way it should be. Every profession that attempts to heal a part of the human person should have a solid foundation on which it builds an understanding of that part. A heart doctor needs to know how the heart was made, why it does what its supposed to do, and how it does it. Psychology studies the whole person, yet many “psychologists” don’t have a unified vision of who the person is, what the person is supposed to be, or why. Looking through a Catholic lens, one can find a unified vision of what a healthy human person is supposed to look like. Only then can we understand what an unhealthy person looks like, or how to move people closer to health.
     
Gordon:   Could you comment on how you provide on-line therapy?
     
Dr. Bottaro:   Many people contact me from all over the world looking for referrals for Catholic psychologists. When I first started, I didn’t know many others that were out there, so I offered to see people myself over video conferencing. This has worked out extremely well. The modality is growing as a practice, and research consistently shows that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy. It seems like something should be missing from the experience, but we are working on specific issues, so the online modality actually works quite well.
     
Gordon:


 














 

 

You have a videos from EWTN on Psychology and Freedom that provides a great background on your history.


Sunday Night Prime - 2014-3-2- Gregory Bottaro - Psychology and Freedom


You have special commitment to the poor. Could you provides our reader with some background on your experience working the with poor?

     
Dr. Bottaro:
 
  In college I had the blessing of joining a mission team to work in Haiti. I immediately fell in love with the poor. I was also attracted to the spirituality of St. Francis and spent 4 years as a brother in temporary vows with the CFR Franciscans in NYC. Living and working with the poor are a passion of mine. Since leaving, getting a doctorate, getting married and establishing a practice, I still return to Haiti often and working with the poor continues to shape me as a person.
     
Gordon:
 
 

You also have a special commitment to the challenges of relationships and marriage, and have e written some articles for the Catholic Match Institute. What are some of the more serious relationship challenges that affect mental health?

     
Dr. Bottaro:



 
 

Marriage, like the human person, can only be properly understood through a Catholic lens. Marriage is not meant to be heaven on earth- it is a path to holiness. People think they need to find the perfect person to be a spouse, but the truth is that perfection is attained only after a long life of marriage (that’s the goal anyway). The most serious relationship challenge that affects mental health is the inability or refusal to die to self. “I do” means “I die.” It means “I give myself entirely to you, body, mind and soul, and I no longer live for myself but for you.” This is the single most important truth about marriage that is neglected in most marriage prep programs, that most couples don’t realize they are saying on the altar, and that causes the most difficulty after marriage. Besides that, more practically speaking, pornography is destroying marriages and family.

     
Gordon:
 
  You blog regularly at CatholicPsych.com .and several other websites, and we appreciate the privilege of featuring many of your blogs in our Library. How valuably do you find blogging a communications resource and how could parishes use blogging as an evangelization tool?
     
Dr. Bottaro:   My feelings about blogging change throughout the year. Sometimes I find it to be an effective outlet to try to reach people. Many times I think the internet is a huge waste of time that many people get pulled into. Overall, I figure if people are going to be spending their time online, it’s probably better to contribute to some of the more helpful content that’s out there.
     
Gordon:

 
 

We recently learned that heroin deaths surpass gun homicides for the first time and there appears to be an epidemic of many forms of addiction including  prescription drug addiction, alcohol addiction, pornography addiction and even cell-phone addiction, Is there a relationship between all forms of addiction, and what can be done to reduce our tendencies toward addictive behavior?

     
:Dr. Bottaro:
:
  Yes, all addiction can be summed up as an attempt to satisfy our desires for something infinite with something that is finite. Catechesis and spiritual development will help reduce our culture’s tendency toward addictions.
     
Gordon:   Based on your experience in the seminary, should priests have more education on mental health challenges?
     
Dr. Bottaro:
 
  Absolutely. Priests are incredibly effective collaborators with mental health practitioners when they are educated on mental health issues. Unfortunately not all dioceses take this seriously (though many do very well), and sadly many priests own mental health needs are being neglected.
     
Gordon:   In closing, I wanted to share your video series on St. Joseph with our readers.
   
St Joseph