“I grew up in a family where substance use and mental health disorders were widespread.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I'm a born and bred New Yorker whose first career choice was photojournalism. I was an award-winning staff photographer for the NY Daily News when print media still counted. I worked part-time while raising my children and decided it was time for a change. I was interested in helping families and individuals understand and overcome the pain of addiction and mental health disorders. After earning my CASAC, I worked at Mt. Sinai Hospital on a self-pay inpatient unit for co-occurring disorders. It became clear that having wealth could not keep you safe from alcohol or other drugs; in fact, it often made matters worse. The recession led to the unit's closing. I was able to leave with my MSW in hand and my LCSW followed a few years later. I worked in a number of nonprofit substance use and mental health clinics until I decided to start a private practice and work on my own. My last hospital position was at the Bronx VA.
What should someone know about working with you?
The intake process allows us to get to know each other and begin to form a mutually respectful therapeutic relationship. I've been trained in cognitive behavioral therapies as well as psychodynamic, motivational interviewing, and DBT with a focus on mindfulness meditation. Sometimes, I utilize worksheets and assign homework. It's up to the client, but I urge all to begin a journal practice as well.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I'm curious, questioning, and have a strong desire to learn. I thought of entering research when I realized it was the outcome of the research I enjoyed learning the most. Every year, I continue to take continuing education courses and they've included topics such as gambling disorders, hoarding, drama and improvisation therapy, animal-assisted therapy, medical-assisted therapy for opioid use disorders, pharmacology for mental health and substance use, and too many more to list. I've always been one of those people who ask, "Why?" This has helped me learn an enormous amount and sometimes it's gotten me into trouble. But I won't stop asking.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I grew up in a family where substance use and mental health disorders were widespread. I myself continue to be in long-term recovery from both, which gives me not only added insight into others’ experiences but the permission to truly say, "I understand what you've experienced." Some clients appreciate this added "certification."
“I myself continue to be in long-term recovery from both, which gives me not only added insight into others’ experiences but the permission to truly say, "I understand what you've experienced."”