“The therapeutic process is often bumpy but the reward is a sense of coming alive and blossoming.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
In my teens, I thought I could be an artist but in college (I was the first in my immigrant family to go), I fell in love with the sciences. My love of art remains (I recently got a degree in it) and I sometimes daydream of happiness as an art or antiques dealer. I was a university professor for 35 years, worked in clinics and hospitals, held leadership positions in psychology and psychoanalysis, and found my truest home in private practice with a close community of colleagues. I continue to study, learn, and treasure the life that permits me to use everything I know and care about to help others.
What should someone know about working with you?
I have a pretty standard office practice with adults and seniors. Since I accept various insurances, I get to see a widely diverse group of people, which is very gratifying. Initial sessions are devoted to hearing what brings you to therapy. I want to hear what your life has been like and who you view yourself to be. If it feels as though we can do useful work after maybe 3-6 sessions, we’ll just continue with what we've been doing. I don't give homework but usually people put in a lot of time and energy thinking about what's come up in the sessions. The therapeutic process is often bumpy but the reward is a sense of coming alive and blossoming. What could be better?
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
My home state, New York, mandated continuing education for psychologists. For me personally, all that meant was having to hand in paperwork showing that I'm still doing what I've been doing all along: Attending professional meetings of all sorts; meeting colleagues to discuss clinical matters, theories and, increasingly, social issues (e.g., taking part in a diversity book club for psychoanalysts); participating in a peer group; engaging in weekly consultations with an esteemed senior colleague, focusing particularly on my gay male clients; presenting at professional meetings; writing for professional journals; and teaching an advanced clinical seminar in China to Chinese students training to become psychoanalysts. The basic reason behind this effort is that it sharpens my clinical skills and improves my practice. All this, of course, is done remotely in these pandemic days; I find we are all getting used to it and making it work.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
From the outside, I'm typically seen as an educated and privileged white woman. The truth is I've scrambled against odds to become who I am and that helps me in working with a wide range of people. The odds I faced included immigrant parents, constant financial struggles, and a total lack of support for ambition and intellect. In my favor were loving (if limited) parents with a strong work ethic, a public school system that intermittently failed me but intermittently saved me, and such naivete about the many barriers I faced — especially as a girl with no financial resources — that I just plunged ahead. I understand how different things are now, how doors once open have now closed, but I am grateful to my experiences for showing me life at many levels; they allow me to resonate with people of all stripes and all histories in my work. So, it's all good.
“I am grateful to my experiences for showing me life at many levels; they allow me to resonate with people of all stripes and all histories in my work.”