“Being from a large, New Jersey, Italian-American family, I appreciate narrative and storytelling.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
Being from a large, New Jersey, Italian-American family, I appreciate narrative and storytelling. My own narrative roams from working as a flight attendant in Colorado, to running an art gallery in New Mexico, to working in K-12 schools in New Jersey, to attending graduate school in New York City. My love of narrative and storytelling carries into all aspects of my professional life. In my published research, which is interview-based, I explore the stories of marginalized populations. In my professional life as an assistant professor, I use narratives and stories to connect with my students. Finally, as a social worker and psychologist, I use narrative and storytelling to connect with my clients, understand their concerns, and move toward change.
What should someone know about working with you?
Within my clinical work, I am deeply committed to the inclusion of multicultural content and issues of social justice. I come to each session with a desire to use the power of human narratives to foster deep, meaningful connections with my clients. As a psychologist, I believe in being open-minded and tolerant of all people and presenting situations. I believe all psychologists must be open to new research, methods of practice, and ways of thinking and conceptualizing the field. Through all this, I believe in compassion and being able to empathize with a client’s pain and other difficulties. Perhaps most importantly, I believe in patience—I understand that significant periods of time can pass before substantial results can be seen.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
Collaboration with professionals within and outside mental health are crucial to all research and practice. I aim to only work in spaces designed to foster support and collaboration among academics and health professionals from different disciplines—this includes national and international conferences, paper and presentation collaborations on research and practice, writers’ workshops, and formal and informal peer mentoring and support groups. Simply, you cannot remain current without connection to the narratives of your peers, both within and beyond your field of study.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
Working as a professor and psychologist places me at a unique intersection within conversations about the evolving mental health landscape. It is a privilege to teach students entering the field as counselors and psychologists, but this also keeps me tuned in to the latest ideas emerging from colleges and universities. In addition, as a practicing psychologist, I am intimately aware of the evolving needs of my clients and how their wants and desires are changing the field. In all of these experiences, I see differences in therapy delivery, such as telehealth, at the forefront of mental health.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
My research is reflective of my clinical work. I use a method known as “the Listening Guide,” which was created by my mentor Dr. Carol Gilligan (“In a Different Voice”). My current research explores the narratives of second-generation Dominican-American, Korean-American, and Trinidadian-American college-educated women; the voices and narratives of women who have experienced IVF; the experiences of Asian-American performers in theatre, film, and television; and stereotypes and biases in online dating. My qualitative work exploring the narratives of Korean-American women during and after college was published in “Narrative Inquiry” in 2018. My theoretical work exploring gender education within the classroom was published in “Scholarship for Teaching and Learning in Psychology” in 2019.
“As a psychologist, I believe in being open-minded and tolerant of all people and presenting situations.”