“My strong background (and parallel career) in the arts, and my own multicultural identity as an immigrant are factors that further enhance my empathic capacity and inform and guide my clinical practice.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I did not intend to become a psychologist when I started college; this field was not even on my radar back then. But it only took a couple of classes of my Psychology 101 course to make me decide to change my major and embark on a path to an eventual PhD (with my dissertation being awarded as the best of my year). I realized this was a profession that would allow me to combine my intellectual curiosity and my interest in the lives of others with the ability to do some good in the world. My strong background (and parallel career) in the arts, and my own multicultural identity as an immigrant are factors that further enhance my empathic capacity and inform and guide my clinical practice. I have worked in a wide array of clinical settings and roles, including college counseling, consultation/liaison psychiatry, inpatient and outpatient hospital clinics, and private practice. I also have fairly extensive experience supervising trainees.
What should someone know about working with you?
I approach each person who comes to see me with genuine interest, acceptance, warmth, compassion, and a deep understanding of the fact that engaging in therapy takes courage, since it is not always easy to open up to someone. I believe that therapy is a journey of self-discovery and growth that is a truly collaborative partnership. I don’t view the therapist's role as that of a well-meaning guide making decisions on your behalf; instead, my aim is to foster your own autonomy and freedom of choice in life. My approach is best suited to those not seeking readymade, cookie-cutter answers to life's dilemmas but those who are curious about their inner lives and the complexity of the human condition. By listening to you carefully, I can help you hear and understand yourself better and get in touch with, accept, and pursue your true desires and unlock your full potential. My style is warm but challenging when needed, and my way of relating is direct, authentic, playful, and humorous.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
Both my personality and my history are significant assets in my professional work. True emotional growth and meaningful interpersonal relatedness are predicated on authenticity and honesty, qualities that I possess amply. I also believe in (and practice) lifelong learning and growth and abhor complacency and intellectual laziness. I am steadfast, reliable, and straightforward. My own experience of multiculturalism and immigration have allowed me to develop a very sensitive understanding of the complexities of culture and identity and deep empathy for anyone trying to navigate these complexities. Having grown up in the more collectivist, semi-western culture of Greece allows me a unique perspective on a more individualistic culture, such as the one dominant in the US. Being a white, straight male who has nevertheless experienced "otherness" as an immigrant has helped me attain a more nuanced understanding of the possible dimensions of difference and exclusion.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
My doctoral research (for which I received awards from my PhD program as well as from the American Psychological Association) focused on the various ways that people use photographs to construct and reconstruct memories and autobiographical narratives, to process loss, and to engage with creativity. It was challenging research and a much more ambitious project than was needed to fulfill the requirements for graduating. However, I wanted to engage with something that was both personally resonant as well as universally applicable. Even though I believe that the past casts a long shadow on all our lives, I also strongly believe that we have the potential to exercise autonomy in how we process and relate to it, thereby loosening its grip and taking our life's narrative into our own hands. This is a credo that also guides my therapeutic work.
“I approach each person who comes to see me with genuine interest, acceptance, warmth, compassion, and a deep understanding of the fact that engaging in therapy takes courage, since it is not always easy to open up to someone.”