“Although my practice is mainly guided by empirical modalities, I tend to approach each client in an eclectic manner to customize treatment as needed.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I was an electrical engineer in Italy while reading Freud, Fromm, and Yung with intense passion. Growing up, I was the friend who would sit down and listen to friends and family issues. I feel that I am compassionate but direct and won't shy away from a healthy therapeutic confrontation. I love cooking and feeding people; I am a "good-enough" Italian mother in disguise. I worked as a senior psychologist at Bellevue Hospital and as a faculty member at NYU School of Medicine between 1997-2010. I directed psychological testing and worked as an attending psychologist in the CPEP. I was also a first responder for FEMA during the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. In 2000, I founded and directed the Intensive Personality Disorders Program (IPDP) at Bellevue/NYU to provide a full DBT program, TFP, and training for MD, PHD, and MSW students. Internationally, I provide presentations, training, and consultations on how to set up personality disorder programs in places like Spain and Italy. I continue to supervise and lecture at Columbia.
What should someone know about working with you?
Although my practice is mainly guided by empirical modalities, I tend to approach each client in an eclectic manner to customize treatment as needed. The evaluation takes place over the initial three sessions. A treatment plan is then discussed with the client to assure a treatment agreement. I like to include homework, books, and new life activities (e.g. new hobbies, sports, or social interactions) if applicable. If I find it relevant, I might ask to include the spouse/partner in some sessions. I offer phone support for brief coaching sessions with very specific issues. In the last 25 years, I have worked with a broad range of clients with diverse ethnic backgrounds and faith orientations as well as those in the LGBTQ community, those in late adolescence, the elderly, sex workers, veterans, and more.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I am actively lecturing and supervising and I have been on the faculty of several universities, including Columbia, Boston University, NYU, Adelphi, and Fordham. Besides the need to keep up with the clinical/empirical literature, I find the challenge and interaction with students the most enriching. The great questions that they generate push me to learn more and keep up. I love to read and keep learning. I am very curious.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
Before being Italian, I am a Florentine. I like to think of myself as a renaissance man and an old-time artisan. Therapy cannot be an assembly line production because like an artisan, each object has its own idiosyncrasies and unique qualities that need to be appreciated and valued.
“In the last 25 years, I have worked with a broad range of clients with diverse ethnic backgrounds and faith orientations as well as those in the LGBTQ community, those in late adolescence, the elderly, sex workers, veterans, and more.”