“I use a holistic and integrated approach to therapy because I believe we hold stress and trauma not only in our minds but also in our bodies.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I have always been curious about human behavior, the brain, and why we do what we do as people. When I discovered the field of social work and therapy, it was a natural progression for me to pursue this path. After seeing family and friends who were new mothers and parents struggling with these new experiences and finding little support in the area, I focused my studies and training on maternal mental health and working with parents. I am currently engaged in an ongoing research study at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell on the impact of screening for maternal depression and anxiety on the health and well-being of the children. I have also completed the Maternal Mental Health Intensive training at the Seleni Institute and regularly provide training on maternal mental health, parent-child attachment, and development to residents in the Pediatric Residency Program at Cornell.
What should someone know about working with you?
I use a holistic and integrated approach to therapy because I believe we hold stress and trauma not only in our minds but also in our bodies. We need to address the whole system, not just parts of it, for meaningful change and growth to occur. In my practice, I like to identify goals to work toward using a holistic lens while also leaving space for exploration and creativity in the therapeutic process. I once heard that “health” can be described as the ability to respond to a situation with as much access to oneself as possible using the coordination of one’s mind and body. I draw from this definition when supporting my clients' work toward a sense of balance and wellness in their lives.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
I find that many people’s resistance to therapy is based on an outdated view of what therapy looks like. It doesn’t have to mean laying down on a sofa with a stranger interpreting your childhood. Therapy can be a dynamic conservation where we find new ways to look at our patterns in life and identify opportunities to do something different. One seeks therapy when something isn’t going quite right in their life and therapy can offer a place to investigate how we got here and how to move forward differently. I also think it’s important to remember that therapists are people who bring their own experiences and ways of relating into the room, which means they are not all the same and you have to find a therapist who works for you.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I’m excited that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) and distress in the perinatal timeframe are finally being recognized, acknowledged, and researched. Until recently, and unfortunately still to this day, new parents were told to enjoy and soak up every moment of new parenthood, but the perinatal period is a highly complex emotional experience that is often extremely distressing and many new parents suffer in secrecy. Through new initiatives and research, we’re learning how critical it is to provide support and access to mental health services to new parents, as this will be one of the most dramatic transitions in their life. In our medical system, a new mother receives one postpartum follow-up visit from their Ob/Gyn six weeks after the baby is born. It has become my mission to normalize mental health support during the postpartum period as a necessary component of postpartum care for women and families.
How is working with stepfamilies different from working with other family structures?
As part of a stepfamily myself, I found there to be limited knowledge and support around this challenging family dynamic. After completing a training at the Ackerman Institute on working with stepfamilies and studying the work of Dr. Patricia Papernow, the leading expert in the field of stepfamilies, I learned that just as the struggles and challenges stepfamilies face are unique, so, too, is the therapeutic approach to working with stepfamilies. Through psychoeducation, relationship skill-building, and occasionally some intrapsychic work, I support stepfamilies and members of stepfamilies in developing a deeper understanding of the dynamics of their family structure. In doing so, they can move toward a greater sense of control, balance, and contentment in this challenging but often extremely fulfilling family structure.
“It has become my mission to normalize mental health support during the postpartum period as a necessary component of postpartum care for women and families.”