“Working with me is informal, as I believe having a collaborative relationship with a client is critical to helping them change their lives.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I started my career as a high school English teacher in Manhattan. I worked with lots of challenging students and their families and realized that I preferred the more personal side of teaching, which is similar to counseling. Around this time, I also had a positive experience in counseling, which drastically improved my life and my understanding of who I was. It's not too dramatic to say that my therapist helped save my life and I decided I wanted to do the same for others. So, I went back to school and I changed jobs and became a research assistant at the Brain Injury Research Center at Mount Sinai in New York City. I was fortunate to then be accepted into the University of Minnesota's PhD program, one of the top psychology programs in the world. I’ve worked with veterans, the urban and rural poor, college students, and financial executives. Struggling with my own mental health problems and overcoming them helps me to provide insight and motivation to others.
What should someone know about working with you?
Working with me is informal, as I believe having a collaborative relationship with a client is critical to helping them change their lives. My goal is to help people understand their history and how it impacts their present thinking, feeling, and behavior. To that end, I ask about the past but also focus on what we can do in the present. I do not assign formal homework but depending on the individual, there may be all kinds of challenges to practice outside of the office. For someone who is depressed, we might work on getting you out and moving in the world. For example, having coffee with a friend can be a type of homework. For someone with high anxiety, an assignment might entail learning coping skills and then putting them into practice in the environments or around people who most excite your worry. The most important thing to know about working with me is that I tailor my approach to suit what you need most. And what you need most is something we figure out together.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I think many of the ways we struggle are interpersonal in nature. Our relationships with others as human beings are so important to a sense of safety and belonging and without strong family and friends, we are adrift in this lonely world. To that end, whether dealing with substance abuse, depression, or anxiety, my focus is always on helping the client improve the relationships with those they love. Maybe that means learning to create important boundaries with a loved one. Maybe that means changing your own behavior so that those you love can grow closer to you. Either way, I always emphasize the need for attending to those most important to us.
“My goal is to help people understand their history and how it impacts their present thinking, feeling, and behavior.”