“In the therapeutic process, I meet clients where they are, recognize their individuality, validate their concerns, and celebrate their strengths and accomplishments.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
During my doctoral training, I worked with an amazing faculty member who practiced cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The approach made so much sense to me and seemed so powerful in helping people lead better lives. After graduate school, I joined the faculty in the school psychology program at the University of South Florida where I trained graduate students in school-based mental health for 22 years. This included developing the first CBT course for doctoral students in the program. In 2018, I joined the faculty at Fairleigh Dickinson University where I currently train doctoral students in mental health interventions and supervise students in learning CBT and DBT skills. In 2016, I published a book on the use of CBT in school settings, and I regularly consult with school districts throughout the country on how to deliver CBT to adolescents. My practice includes working with children, adolescents, and adults, particularly those struggling with anxiety, depression, or self-esteem issues.
What should someone know about working with you?
If you work with me, I will begin by asking you about your life and your experiences to date so that I can get a sense of who you are and what brings you to therapy. From there, we will develop specific goals to accomplish during therapy and estimate how long it will take to reach those goals. The goals drive the treatment plan, which I develop based on my knowledge of CBT and other therapeutic strategies and share with you. In the therapeutic process, I meet clients where they are, recognize their individuality, validate their concerns, and celebrate their strengths and accomplishments. I see therapy as a partnership where change occurs through the commitment of the therapist to the client's wellbeing as well as the client's commitment to taking a series of small steps to reach larger goals.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I regularly conduct research in my role as a faculty member to continue to understand people's experiences and how they are impacted by them. My recent research has focused on young adults who experienced chronic trauma throughout their childhoods. Interviewing these young adults and synthesizing the ideas they shared about growing up has sensitized me to the impact of trauma on a person's development. To better understand the different therapeutic strategies that help people overcome trauma, I am currently completing a certificate program in traumatic stress studies. I also have taken the trauma-focused CBT online training and have trained students in TF-CBT. I enjoy attending conferences regularly where I both present my own research and attend sessions to learn more about CBT, DBT, mindfulness, motivational interviewing, and positive psychology.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I believe it is important for therapists to understand that each person presents with a unique set of life experiences and worldviews. I am a naturally empathic person, and it is always my goal to make my clients feel understood, validated, and accepted for who they truly are. My father was a pharmacist who owned his own pharmacy for over 50 years. He prided himself on always being available to his customers as a friendly and reliable resource. My mother was a special education teacher who was a hardworking and steadfast advocate for her students. My parents inspired me to enter a helping profession where I could make a difference in people's lives using the values they modeled for me. I pride myself on being a source of unconditional positive regard for my clients and someone who has both the knowledge (mind) and passion (heart) to help my clients meet their therapeutic goals.
“I see therapy as a partnership where change occurs through the commitment of the therapist to the client's wellbeing as well as the client's commitment to taking a series of small steps to reach larger goals.”