“I get energized when people are able to utilize their own strengths to overcome their problems and support their personal growth .”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I began helping others when I worked as a direct care worker with children in a residential center. When I realized that I loved my job, I decided to get a PhD in counseling psychology. As required, I completed an internship at the Astor Home for Children. I eventually joined Astor as a fulltime psychologist, staying for 35 years. I was fortunate enough to become CEO, which allowed me to work with hundreds of clinical staff and thousands of children and families. During my years, I have been amazed by the ways in which people solve problems. I get energized when people are able to utilize their own strengths to overcome their problems and support their personal growth.
What should someone know about working with you?
I believe therapy is a partnership and you are the expert in your life. I help you use this self-knowledge to achieve your personal goals. I use a strengths-based approach, which means I assist you in identifying your personal competencies, talents, and resources. I also help you utilize these to overcome your challenges. I believe you want to be the best version of yourself and I will work with you to achieve this goal. If you have a trauma history, I want to help you develop a plan that recognizes your resiliency as a survivor and shows you that it’s something you can rely on to heal.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
It is difficult to talk with a stranger about the most personal parts of your life. However, I believe you will feel relief when you begin sharing your problems and concerns. You will hopefully learn that your issues are not as unsolvable as you might have initially thought. If you work with me, I will help you understand that everyone has problems and most of us have many problems. We all also have strengths, sometimes unrealized. I will work with you as a partner and together we will identify ways in which you are not utilizing your strengths to deal with your problems. Together, we will use this knowledge to create a plan that meets your needs and addresses your hopes and dreams for the future.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
I am excited about the growing recognition that mental health is critical to our overall well-being. We also know that social emotional development is as important and needs to be monitored and supported. There is a growing strength in the peer/consumer movement and I feel privileged when I can work with youth, parents, or adults with lived experiences who are willing to share those experiences to help others. This is sometimes more powerful than traditional mental health treatment. I am excited about the recognition related to the effectiveness of virtual treatment as well. Teletherapy has increased access to mental health services while, at the same time, reducing the burdens related to seeking help.
What does your work with families, children, and couples look like?
The more people committed to solving someone’s problems, the more likely we’ll find success. I have considerable experience with children, with family treatment, and with coaching parents on how to interact with their children. I know there are some who are difficult to parent, even as infants and toddlers. I support parents and help them with concrete suggestions on how to best parent their children. With older kids, there are many potential reasons for conflict and I help to find solutions instead of blame. Everyone plays a role in this work and I focus on helping families develop effective ways to communicate. I also work with couples in conflict or those who want to improve their relationship with their partners. I help them listen to each other while also coaching them to be clear about their needs and desires.
“I will work with you as a partner and together we will identify ways in which you are not utilizing your strengths to deal with your problems.”