“Seeing a therapist is a normal response to feeling unhappy and “not good enough.””
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
After graduating from college with a degree in theater, I started taking yoga classes and became a yoga teacher. I went back to school for a master’s in exercise physiology, and at the same time, applied to social work school. After I completed both degrees, I was lucky enough to be hired by a hospital in Rockland County that was starting one of the first wellness departments. Along with the nurse and dietician on the team, I developed course material on exercises, stress management, and weight management. One day at the end of one of my courses, a delightful 80-year-old student of mine asked if she could have an individual stress-management session. And that was the beginning of my career as a therapist.
What should someone know about working with you?
The first time I meet with a prospective client, I want to hear what it was that caused them to seek therapy. I’m interested in how they feel physically and what they say about themselves. I am also open to answering questions about myself and my practice. If we decide we are a good fit, from time to time—especially in the beginning—I will suggest some homework. I often recommend a book called “The Feeling Good Handbook,” by David Burns MD. I have taken courses with him, and the book is an excellent introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy. I can teach my clients meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques for anxiety reduction—and I can advise on exercise programs if they are open to that.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
For my entire career as a therapist, I have consulted and worked with psychiatrists, nutritionists, and nurses—and it has enhanced my ability to help my clients. Having an integrated team is ideal.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
There was a time not so long ago when people would see seeking therapy as a weakness. I am glad that due to new sources of information, especially online, more of the world knows that seeing a therapist is a normal response to feeling unhappy and “not good enough.”
What do you like about being a therapist?
I vowed to myself as a young teenager that I would never take a job I didn’t love. I have been lucky enough to have kept that vow. After 20 years, I still enjoy working with clients, helping them understand themselves better, hearing their stories, and especially sharing a good laugh with them. We can’t change the world or other people in our lives, but we can change the way we see ourselves—and that makes all the difference.
“We can’t change the world or other people in our lives, but we can change the way we see ourselves—and that makes all the difference.”