“I am eclectic in my approach: I tailor goals to client needs and ensure that they are treated as experts in their own experiences.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
For the past eight years, I’ve been honored to work as a clinical social worker in many diverse settings. I launched a satellite mental health clinic at a public school, designed and implemented mentoring programs at a variety of venues, did extensive social justice work with young women, and conducted individualized and group counseling at a high school equivalency (HSE) program in Sunset Park. Currently, I also help to train and mentor therapists as Adjunct Instructor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service and Bank Street College of Education. Throughout my experience, I have extensively focused on student needs (academic and interpersonal), working as both a professor and a clinician in school-based settings.
What should someone know about working with you?
I’m certified in relational psychotherapy by the Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center. This has enhanced my focus on maintaining the client/therapist relationship, the key component in the healing process. In your work with me, you can expect a strong focus on this relationship and a continued exploration of how our therapeutic alliance mirrors or improves other relationships in your life. I am eclectic in my approach: I tailor goals to client needs and ensure that they are treated as experts in their own experiences. If the client prefers, I can work psychodynamically or use components of cognitive behavioral therapy (such as goals and homework). I draw heavily on the practice of motivational interviewing as well, a type of therapy designed to empower clients, help them engage in healthy change, and lead self-directed treatment.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
I'm passionate about supporting new social workers and clinicians. Currently, I'm creating weekly group supervision sessions for school-based and youth workers. I've found that group members can provide the same support to one another as we do to our clients. In their workplaces, schools, and practices, these professionals may have limited access to colleagues with their background, and the group provides an opportunity where they can voice professional concerns and work through similar challenges. As I pace, lead, and follow this group, I draw on the lessons learned from my mentors, and my time working in school-based settings and social service agencies. In my experience, clinicians benefit from mutual aid just as much as we do from traditional supervision.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
It takes a lot of courage to walk through the door and begin your therapeutic journey! My hope is that we as a society will evolve in our collective view of those who seek help for mental health or other challenges. In my work, I see a profound shift when one person in a system (a family, a community, or an organization) takes steps toward change and summons the courage to seek support—it becomes far easier for others to do so as well! I encourage vulnerability in my patients and challenge them to reconstruct their narrative. Together, we use our imagination to co-create a new vision for their future. I am not corrective or punitive; it is my belief that therapy should feel invigorating and hopeful. We heal in the exact same place we hurt, and it is my job to elicit the strength and fortitude you’ve built through your experiences thus far.
What specific steps have you taken in the past and present to become anti-racist?
Before opening my practice, I did extensive work as a community organizer. In this role, I empowered youth organizers to advocate for change at their schools and in their communities, specifically the interruption of the school-to-prison pipeline. I also have a passion for peer education and have worked with community-based organizations to establish a Know Your Rights curriculum, which is designed for individuals impacted by police brutality. I’ve worked at a civil rights law firm as well, advocating for marginalized communities in the midst of ongoing litigation. This included the fight for transgender rights and marriage equality. However, I know the journey toward anti-racism is nonlinear and I will always need to grow, evolve, and learn. My past work does not exempt me from my critical obligation as a social worker to dismantle white supremacy. Outside of my practice, I collaborate with social service agencies and other clinicians on implementing best practices and placing social justice at the forefront of our work.
“I encourage vulnerability in my patients and challenge them to reconstruct their narrative.”
Interested in speaking with Erin?