“Years of working on the frontlines, directing in the theatre, and, of course, my own tragedies have prepared me for this.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
"Life keeps throwing me stones. And I keep finding the diamonds." - Ana Claudia Antunes. As a crisis counselor for FEMA after September 11 and Hurricane Sandy, an artist-in-residence in a Harlem classroom, a social worker at Bedford Hills (the women’s prison), and a mental health clinician on Rikers Island, I’ve met an incredible array of people. Many have been broken and hurt yet all are resilient — still striving and some thriving. The stories they've shared with me are testimonials to just how hard we can fall and how we rise up again. Years of working on the frontlines, directing in the theatre, and, of course, my own tragedies have prepared me for this. And yet, I am constantly awed by the sheer determination of people to change and find new ways to live.
What should someone know about working with you?
Like everything else, the more you put into therapy, the more you get out of it. We work on at least two levels. First, we develop and practice the most effective skills to better manage day-to-day challenges (whether these involve anger, depression, or anxiety). Second, we may explore the past for events that are replaying in your thoughts, words, or actions. Along the way, we may discover symbols and metaphors for your life. By gaining this insight, you begin to have power over these events. We can disrupt the patterns and deeper change can occur. I tell all my clients to take everything I say with a pinch of salt; I do not have all the answers, that much I do know. You, on the other hand, likely hold the keys that you need to open the door. Let’s find them; let’s open the door.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
Teletherapy provides incredible access to care. Although it may not be the right format for some, my experience is that it can work for most people. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how intense a therapeutic alliance can be when formed through the screen. I recommend you try it and see if it fits. Currently, all our psychotherapy and life coaching services are online or by phone. Forensic services may necessitate in-person sessions. Traditional approaches can work and I utilize them every day. CBT, insight therapy, trauma therapy, DBT, psychodynamic therapy, schema therapy, art therapy, and coaching are evidence-based approaches that have been proven to be effective. So, we keep them in our toolbox. But, sometimes, you have to reach outside of the box, and we do that here, too. This might require changing your home environment, changing your job or your career, cracking a sketchbook, exercising more, changing your diet, reaching out to people from the past, asking for or giving forgiveness, volunteering, joining a choir, taking a trip, or joining a board. Really, the proof of change is in what we are doing.
“And yet, I am constantly awed by the sheer determination of people to change and find new ways to live.”