“I view psychotherapy and psychopharmacology as art—they require finesse, commitment, inspiration, imagination, avoidance of complacency, and a tireless commitment to growth and lifelong learning.”
What was your path to becoming a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner? What inspired you to choose this profession?
In addition to being a nurse practitioner, I am a classically trained musician. When asked (as I often am) how the two overlap, many are surprised to hear me explain that one seamlessly complements the other. The knowledge of theory is integral to both disciplines. Whether in performance or in therapy, the practitioner’s job is to apply theory and to bring it to life. I view psychotherapy and psychopharmacology as art and, consistent with my experience with the rigors of conservatory musical training, they require finesse, commitment, inspiration, imagination, avoidance of complacency, and a tireless commitment to growth and lifelong learning.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
First and foremost, I want clients to know that I positively love what I do and that I am committed to helping new clients identify and work toward the attainment of their goals. While the initial session is often a data gathering and a getting-to-know-you opportunity, I also like to dive right in with therapy. I endeavor to help the client feel better than they did when they first came in to the office. If a discussion of medication is involved, I emphasize that the decision will be made collaboratively, and that I will offer my expertise to help guide those discussions.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
I want people to know that therapy is a journey of self-discovery and self-actualization. While there are specific modalities and techniques that can be used for treatment, therapy remains highly adaptable for each client. A good therapist will be malleable in this regard and will individualize treatment based on your unique needs. In addition, it’s important to understand that the bulk of the work in therapy is actually done in between sessions. The therapist is there to teach, guide, explore, and reflect—and to help clients learn to become their own therapists when they’re not in session.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy, what would they be and why?
Irvin Yalom’s novel ”The Schopenhauer Cure” and a work of nonfiction entitled ”Stoicism Today: Selected Writings.” Both books approach psychotherapy by borrowing wisdom from philosophical traditions which are centuries and, in the case of “Stoicism,” millennia old. The precepts presented in these works inform my psychotherapeutic approach in helping individuals learn to healthily cope with adversity and live a full, self-directed, and eventful life. Consistent with these philosophies, I help clients identify their core values and explore ways of aligning them with their thoughts, behaviors, and actions. That way, they can achieve their goals and become the people they long to be.
Is there any research-based work you’ve done that you found particularly exciting and how has that informed your practice today?
I have spent some time researching and presenting on the topic of early episode psychosis in young people—a population I have worked with extensively in the inpatient environment. I can only hope that I have given back to these remarkable young men and women what they have taught me! Recent work in this area has demonstrated that recovery from serious mental illness is possible. This research has informed my practice across the spectrum of mental health problems by instilling the importance of approaching every individual’s experience as unique, adapting to the language that clients use to describe their struggles (sometimes avoiding “technical” diagnostic terminology altogether), and helping clients apply the precepts of therapy to every area of life—be it social, family, work, or leisure.
“I help clients identify their core values and explore ways of aligning them with their thoughts, behaviors, and actions.”