“My hope for my clients is a shift in their personalities—in how they think, feel, engage with others, and make choices.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
New York City has a rich psychotherapeutic tradition and offers countless ways to get acquainted with it. Early on, I attended lectures and seminars offered by the many psychoanalytic institutes and medical schools. The more I learned, the more interested I became. My curiosity led me to pursue a master's degree in mental health counseling at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University. After several years of working in community mental health, I went into private practice. As I observed the cultural changes in gender relations and the effects on couples over time, my focus on men’s issues and couples counseling crystalized.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
My sessions are interactive, friendly, and informative. Depending on the client’s needs, my work ranges from goal focused to more insight-oriented, longer-term treatment. My hope for my clients is a shift in their personalities—in how they think, feel, engage with others, and make choices. I won’t have my clients memorize communication skills or depression-reducing techniques. Instead, I will talk with them about their longings, values, patterns, and inhibitions. Often, as they courageously look into their own psychologies at stuck and anxious times in their lives, they begin to let go of fearful and constricted approaches to living, attain more creative orientations, and get unstuck. Other benefits, such as better mood, more peaceful relationships, and improvements in productivity and motivation, usually follow.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
Therapy is about letting go of any illusions and taking responsibility for one's own life. Good therapy encourages a client to give up the pull to remain unconscious and to step down one’s own meaningful, and often thorny, path. Perhaps as a response to the complexity of modern life, a lot of therapy nowadays aims to provide concrete advice and greenhouse-like treatment conditions. While that may feel good and even energizing in the moment, the effects are usually short lived. I recommend instead using therapy as a time to face pain, loneliness, and the world’s imperfections—and to construct meaning beyond the suffering.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
I think there are few barriers left as far as availability and accessibility. Important issues exist, however, in the kind of treatment that is sought out and that is widely offered. In this age of instant gratification and stress, and with the sheer volume of what we’re expected to undertake or accomplish in a day, people are understandably eager for fast alleviation of their pain. People are tempted to move the burden of change from their tired shoulders to someone else’s—essentially running the risk of remaining passive. But I would caution people from becoming seduced by that and to seek depth-oriented therapy instead. In my opinion, it offers the best chance at achieving lasting change, even after the discontinuation of treatment.
What’s your approach to couples therapy?
I help couples learn, assimilate, and practice basic principles of relationships—and I try to foster self-reflection, humility, and curiosity. The task of each individual is to become more aware of how they both play roles in their repetitive and ineffective ways of relating. If both partners understand the psychodynamics of their relationship and are motivated for change, the relationship can start to feel less competitive, conflict-ridden, and more based in respect, empathy, and safety.
“Therapy is about letting go of any illusions and taking responsibility for one's own life.”