“My primary objective is to create psychic and emotional space in which you can listen to yourself and better understand your own thoughts and feelings.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
My interest in therapy began in college, where I majored in psychology. Initially, I focused my career on the business world, pursuing an MBA in Organizational Behavior and consulting with large corporations on employee engagement and leadership development. I found myself seeking deeper, more personal work with clients, which led me to study psychoanalysis at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, where I currently serve on the training committee. I have always been interested in understanding what drives people’s behavior, and especially how early experiences shape our feelings about ourselves and relationships with others. I find it deeply gratifying to engage clients in reworking these early templates and helping them create positive, long-lasting changes in their lives.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
My approach to therapy is based on connection. I engage deeply with my clients in exploring what holds them back from leading a more fulfilling life. While I’ve had significant training and experience, I do not position myself as the expert. I see us as partners in a journey of discovery, whether we are addressing painful relationship dynamics or difficulties achieving goals. My primary objective is to create psychic and emotional space in which you can listen to yourself and better understand your own thoughts and feelings. While I will guide, support, and, at times, challenge you, I respect that you are the expert on yourself, so we travel on this journey together. I take this journey very seriously while recognizing that humor can often help get us through difficult emotional terrain.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
I believe professional collaboration is critical to providing effective mental health treatment. I often consult with psychiatrists to explore the role of psychopharmacology in my clients’ treatment, particularly if their symptoms feel overwhelming. While I do not recommend medication lightly, in certain circumstances the combination of therapy and medication can be more effective than either modality alone. In addition, I engage with practitioners in other aspects of wellness such as nutrition, mindfulness, and yoga, as I believe a holistic perspective is important to mental health. I work hard to maintain an enlivening network of colleagues. I currently take part in a weekly peer supervision group with other therapists, where we exchange theoretical ideas and clinical challenges. This connection nourishes me and provides inspiration for my work with clients.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
The landscape of mental health is changing in very positive ways. The stigma once surrounding psychotherapy has diminished as more people recognize that issues like anxiety and depression are understandable reactions to an increasingly stressful and volatile world. More people are acknowledging the toll that unprocessed trauma takes on our lives, whether from large scale events such as war or relational trauma in our families of origin. We're also beginning to recognize the physical toll of these unprocessed feelings — symptoms like ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines. As this acceptance grows, people are freed from the shame that has bound them to silent suffering. Instead, they are empowered to face their feelings and seek treatment that heals both body and mind.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
In my experience, many people struggling with mental health issues try to bury their painful feelings, believing that talking about them will only make them feel worse. Perhaps they’ve never had a space to share their feelings, or perhaps they’ve been ignored or humiliated when trying to open up. One surprising thing many patients realize in therapy is how beneficial it is to express their thoughts and feelings out loud. Often, painful feelings like sadness, confusion, and shame become easier to bear when shared with an engaged, empathic therapist. The act of putting internalized experiences into words can open their minds to different perspectives about themselves and others, freeing them from repetitive behavioral patterns that hold them back from living a more satisfying life.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
Adam Phillips, a British psychoanalyst, has influenced me. In his essay “Against Self Criticism,” Phillips describes our inner critic as “a boring and vicious soliloquist with an audience of one.” Many of us are familiar with this repetitive, judgmental voice, but may not even stop to wonder why we talk to ourselves in ways we’d never talk to others. Phillips’ perspective provides a new lens for managing our self-punishing ways. Another author who has influenced my work is Dutch psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, he writes about the ways trauma lodges itself in the body and how our bodies recognize and manifest our psychic distress before we are even aware of it. His work has helped me to appreciate the powerful connection between our physical and emotional selves.
“While I’ve had significant training and experience, I do not position myself as the expert. I see us as partners in a journey of discovery.”