I received my doctoral degree from Ohio State University in 1970. After working at our counseling center for 12 years, I joined the Psychology Department as a full-time professor in 1982. I became an Emeritus Professor in 2013. My theoretical, research, and clinical interests focus on the patient-therapist relationship in psychotherapy. I have theorized that all therapeutic relationships consist of a working alliance, a personal or "real" relationship, and a transference-countertransference configuration. Although these components all are rooted in psychoanalytic theory, my attempt has been to theorize about and empirically investigate their operations in diverse psychotherapists. I have empirically studied all of the elements of this tripartite model, and my research program along with clinical experience has allowed me to write book-length treatments of two of the components: countertransference (Gelso & Hayes, 2007) and the real relationship (Gelso, 2011). I recently had a book published (Gelso, 2019, The therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy practice, NY: Routledge) on how the tripartite model and the therapeutic relationship more generally operate in the practice of psychotherapy. My other main area of interest is research training in applied areas of psychology, particularly clinical and counseling psychology. Here I have developed a theory of the ingredients of training that, when present, facilitate graduate students' interest in, self-efficacy about, and production of research during their graduate training and afterwards. The product of over three decades of research on this theory has been presented in a recent publication (Gelso, Baumann, Chui, & Savela, A., 2013). I have also conducted individual psychotherapy throughout my career, and I currently see patients through my private practice. My approach to treatment is psychodynamic, although I do integrate other theories as is indicated.

Areas of Interest

  • The Therapeutic Relationship in Psychotherapy
  • Research training in professinal psychology

Doctoral Programs

  • Counseling


  • PhD
    My doctoral degree was in Counseling Psychology from Ohio State University

As a teacher, I seek to both inform and stimulate. That is, I enjoy lecturing and at the same time love to foster searching discussions. The student learns best through both digesting knowledge and active exploration. My aim is always to foster both of these, and also to present material in as interesting a way as possible. In 2016, I won the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Mentoring given by the Society for Advancement of Psychotherapy (APA, Division 29).

My research philosophy may be best presented in a statement I first made a few decades ago (Gelso, 1979) focusing on how each and every piece of research and approach to research possesses dire limitations, and that the best way to advance knowledge was through paradigmatic diversity, the use of multiple methodologies. In my research program, I have always, for example, moved back and forth between laboratory research and field research, experimental research and correlational research. I also believe that theory is a crucial element of all science (see Gelso, 2006), and most of my research seeks to test theory. However, I also believe that more inductive research paradigms (e.g., qualitative research) are an important part of the diversity that is needed.

I believe it is important for faculty at research universities to provide service to their departments, universities, and professions. Throughout my career I have been very involved in the editorial process, having served as editor of two major journals, the Journal of Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy. I continue to be on editorial boards of psychotherapy journals. Another kind of service in which I have always been involved is psychotherapy. I have seen patients in individual psychotherapy throughout my career and continue to do so. My work tends to be long term, and is from a psychodynamic perspective, although I do integrate others approaches as called for.

  • Professional
    I have been editor of two major journals in psychology and continue to serve on editorial boards.

Former Students

  • Student Name
    I have chaired 35 dissertation committees during my career.
Dr. Gelso
2123N BPS
Department of Psychology
gelso [at] umd.edu
Office Hours
Tuesday 12-2