“My overall dedication is to building foundations and addressing gaps in various systems and my work is around supporting the individual and/or unit to remain vulnerable and authentic.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
As a young child, I played doctor as many children do but my version of this common fantasy profession was always in the psychological setting where my client lied on a couch and I, with a pencil and paper in hand, simply said, “Tell Dr. Deirdre your problems.” I sought to help others ease their discomfort and flourish in their surroundings by resolving their internal conflicts. I was subconsciously preparing myself for a journey into clinical social work. Due to my upbringing and training, I understand how useful it is to employ a level of mindfulness, an understanding of how systems impact people, and a respect for the treatment process; this ensures a commitment to providing quality care for all clients from various socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. I create a space for building understanding, receiving validation, and increasing curiosity around the narratives and lived truths of others in order to build accountability and address patterns of internal and trans-generational discords.
What should someone know about working with you?
My overall dedication is to building foundations and addressing gaps in various systems and my work is around supporting the individual and/or unit to remain vulnerable and authentic. Many of the populations I’ve worked with have court-involvement, a history of homelessness, child welfare placements, and confinement through psychiatric hospitalizations, juvenile detention, jails, and prisons. Because many of these settings are restrictive, I encourage a collaborative treatment dialogue and experience. My treatment approach is guided by the following theoretical strategies: Person-centered care, multisystemic family therapy, CBT, and anti-oppressive treatment.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I come from a long line of avid learners with limited opportunities. Growing up, I learned the various narratives of my family, including those of my maternal grandfather and grandmother who both were required by the family to discontinue their education in childhood in order to support their respective families. My foundation challenged me to learn everything I could about myself, my environment, others, how systems work, and how to navigate them respectfully. Throughout my life and career as a social worker, I was encouraged to be curious as curiosity leads to opening doors of understanding. I take ongoing courses to enhance my practical and theoretical knowledge in the profession. I have been able to extend my knowledge to incoming professionals in the community and through my teaching experiences at New York and Fordham Universities. As I advance to the next level in my career, I am passionate about continuing to teach budding new social workers. Teaching is a great honor for me!
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
When I was completing my undergraduate studies, I went to South Africa and learned about the similarities and differences between the healthcare system as compared to the US. I was introduced to a method called kangaroo care, which is more commonly referred to as “skin-to-skin” when a premature baby is placed on the mother’s bare chest to build the bond between a mother and child. This nurturing environment is what I consider the therapeutic relationship to look like. There is a reciprocal connection in the treatment alliance where both the clinician and the unit (person/family/group) grow in the treatment process. The clinician's practice is more grounded in the theory that supports the relationship and the unit is able to use this relationship to achieve their treatment goals.
“My treatment approach is guided by the following theoretical strategies: Person-centered care, multisystemic family therapy, CBT, and anti-oppressive treatment.”