“While I have many tools, I focus first and foremost on creating a comfortable space for you to take risks.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
We're all born wired a certain way; some of us are "dandelions" and some of us are "orchids." Dandelions can thrive no matter the environment but orchids need very specific conditions to survive (let alone, thrive). Orchids are often called "over sensitive" and may struggle more. If they grow up in an environment that doesn't validate their sensitivity, they can develop any number of problems. Because they feel more intensely, they experience more pain. But with the right nurturing and set of tools, they can also experience more beauty and deeper relationships.
I am an orchid and, after many years of my own struggle, I learned how to turn my sensitivities into an asset. I have spent almost 20 years as a therapist helping other sensitive folks find their strengths. I spent ten years at a Bronx clinic working in mental health and substance abuse, then eight years as an outpatient therapist at a psych hospital. I have also worked with high-need LGBTQ+ clients on the Lower East Side.
What should someone know about working with you?
We will start out the first few sessions with a structured approach where I will get your history and we will talk about your goals and collaborate on a basic plan. After that, we will move forward in whatever way seems to work in terms of your needs, style, and preferences. While I have many tools, I focus first and foremost on creating a comfortable space for you to take risks. I am an active therapist, offering up ideas and opinions, but I also want your feedback. No matter what happens, my clients and I tend to laugh together (a lot!). No matter how bleak things may seem, there is usually humor to be found in any situation!
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
Consider the statements "I am bipolar" vs. "I have bipolar disorder."
What's the difference?
The first is an all-encompassing, defining statement. The second simply describes a feature; it is similar to saying, "I am short" or "I have brown eyes." I feel strongly about fighting the stigma against people with mental illness, including that which becomes internalized. While you may be dealing with an illness, you are first and foremost a PERSON. It’s no different from someone with high cholesterol, someone with a quick temper, or someone with a knack for tap dancing. But you are, first and foremost, a person. And I'll help you rediscover that.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I am practicing solely via telehealth. At first, it was simply something I had to do in order to manage the COVID-19 times, but I have learned to stop worrying and love the screen. Once I got over the initial technological learning curve, I started to recognize the new possibilities that telehealth had opened. For me, that includes an expansion in geographic diversity and time flexibility for the clients who I see. I also experience a different sense of intimacy in being able to see my clients in their natural environments. In a more global sense, telehealth can increase access for so many people without decreasing the quality of services. Even if I go back to some minimal in-person hours, I plan to continue telehealth therapy as I have found it so effective and rewarding.
“No matter what happens, my clients and I tend to laugh together (a lot!).”