“I believe that we all possess the tools we need to get through the challenges of life, it sometimes just takes an objective perspective to be able to figure out how to access them.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I have always felt a strong desire to help people, which is what first brought me to social work. My experience working in oncology was the catalyst for pursuing a private practice. Helping my clients during their cancer journey and observing their vulnerability allowed me to reflect on the role of a therapeutic alliance. It helped me to appreciate that we are not made up of one single story and that our life is transformed by several stories. As a woman of color, I have been drawn to understanding how the intersectionality of race, sex, culture, class, and socioeconomic status affect individuals and groups. My experiences have taught me that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to therapy. As such, I employ different techniques to match clients' individual needs and explore how race, sex, culture, and class have affected their lives.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I think it is extremely important for clients to feel that their therapist is a good fit. While I begin to get to know a client during our first session, I also want them to use the time to get to know me. I believe that the therapeutic alliance is fundamental, so I leave plenty of room for clients to share their expectations and ask questions about my practice or the therapeutic process. While I know that it takes time to create rapport, I hope that each of my clients leaves their first session confident that they will get what they need out of our work together. My goal as a therapist is to help clients explore and process their emotions in a safe and nurturing space. I offer a supportive, non-judgmental, and confidential place where my clients can feel safe to collaborate and take risks.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
“Le Petite Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a fiction novel that I read in my French class when I was in high school. The main takeaway of the story is: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye.” “The Alchemist” by Paulo Cohelo teaches us about the importance of listening to our hearts, recognizing opportunities, learning to pay attention to our own intuition, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
Is there any research-based work you’ve done that you found particularly exciting and how has that informed your practice today?
I am the principal investigator on an Institutional Review Board-approved study researching effective communication tools for families at the end of life. I hope to create a video that offers support to patients who have advanced cancer and who are struggling to communicate their terminal illness to their young children. This study has significantly informed my work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center because it brings an awareness that cancer affects the entire family. More importantly, children tend to be the forgotten mourners. The best way to support them is to include them in difficult discussions.
How can people use therapy to be empowered?
A therapeutic relationship is unlike any other. It's a safe space devoted to being seen, heard, and understood. Understanding how the past can sometimes influence the present and learning to find control in the chaos is an amazing power to harness and is exactly what psychotherapy can offer. I hope to help my clients normalize what they are going through and reframe the way they think and talk about their experiences. I believe that we all possess the tools we need to get through the challenges of life, it sometimes just takes an objective perspective to be able to figure out how to access them. I strive to create an environment where clients can process their experiences, identify their strengths, and regain a sense of control.
“We are not made up of one single story. Our life is transformed by several stories.”