Sylvania psychologist retires after 48 years

by Mary Helen Darah

Sylvania psychologist Dr. Larry J. Johnson is retiring after 48 years. Dr. Johnson decided to become an empathic psychologist after surviving years living in an emotionally abusive family. “My high school years were a nightmare. I spent those years feeling rejected and depressed as a result of my home life and the repression of my childhood trauma,” recalled Johnson. “Consequently, I did not do well academically and graduated with a 1.3 GPA, third from the bottom of my class. In my graduation interview with the principal of my Catholic high school in Columbus, he laughed out loud when I told him my intention to attend Ohio Dominican College. He gave me a million-in-one chance of lasting two weeks in college. Four years after that interview, I graduated from Ohio Dominican College (1972) with a 3.8 GPA in Psychology and in my senior year was the student body president of Ohio Dominican College and elected to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.”
During his senior year, Johnson participated in an internship at Marysville Reformatory for Women. “This is just a fancy name for Ohio’s prison for women,” he stated. “During my internship, I conducted a research project which indicated that the psychological testing results they were receiving on the women were not reliable. This research project came to the attention of the Deputy Chief of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. He came to Marysville to interview me and gave me a job at London Correctional Institution, upon my graduation. In June of 1972, I began my career as a psychologist at London Correctional Institution, London, Ohio. While at the prison I was assigned to work with heroin addicts. That August, two months after I arrived at London Correctional Institution, I was involved in a week-long prison riot.”
Johnson left the position at the prison after a year to continue his graduate education toward becoming a licensed psychologist. “In the fall of 1973 I entered the master’s program in rehabilitation counseling at Bowling Green State University,” he said. “While at Bowling Green, I was the graduate assistant at the counseling center for Dr. James F. Guinan. Jim became my mentor, friend and often therapist. For 27 years, every first Friday, you could find us having lunch together at the Oaken Bucket. While at Bowling Green, I wrote a paper which won a national contest for rehabilitation counselors. The award for winning this contest was full tuition for my master’s degree.”
Johnson continued, “Following graduation from Bowling Green State University in 1974, I became Toledo’s first street adolescent drug counselor. In January of 1975, the Bridge hired me to write the grant and develop a counseling program for adolescent drug users and their families. I wrote a grant to develop the Juvenile Intervention Program (JIP) which later became known as Options. After I left Options in 1977, it was merged with Connecting Point. I desired to plant seeds that would grow to benefit our community.”
In the fall of 1977, Johnson began to take doctoral level courses at the University of Toledo on a part-time basis. In the fall of 1978 he was accepted into the doctoral program in counselor education. “Throughout my doctoral program I remained active in private practice on a part-time basis. In the spring of 1978, I met Dr. Carl Whitaker. In the 1940s and 50s, Carl was one of the primary developers of family therapy, which was revolutionary in a psychoanalytic environment. Carl was internationally known and I spent 17 years under his supervision. Throughout my doctoral program I would spend one week per quarter working with Carl at University of Wisconsin’s Medical Center in Madison. I graduated from the University of Toledo with my PhD in August of 1982,” he stated.
After receiving his license in psychology in July of 1984, Johnson went into private practice on a full-time basis. “My practice has always been in the Sylvania area. I have worked with individuals, couples and families in the area of drug abuse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety. From the time I entered the mental health field in 1972 to the day of my retirement July 31, 2020 I have never lost a patient to suicide.”
Johnson has three adult children, Katelyn, Megan and Casey. The newly retired psychologist stated, “Most importantly, on July 14, 2001, I married my best friend and constant companion, Jill. We love living in Sylvania. We have built our retirement home here and plan to grow old in Sylvania.”

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