“Progress in treatment is measured by the client’s self-reporting of increased satisfaction in work and/or relationships and by a decrease in distressing symptoms.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
My first profession was in journalism; I loved interviewing and got good at getting people to talk freely to me, a stranger. I wanted to learn about human development in all its phases, so I went back to school for my MSW and then embarked on 14 years of psychoanalytic training, seeing clients under the supervision of an experienced clinician. Psychoanalysis is unique in its requirement that every candidate must undergo their own therapy. As a treatment modality, it has been successful in every setting I’ve worked in: Schools, mental health agencies, a high school detention center, and private practice.
What should someone know about working with you?
My intake process usually consists of a 15-30 minute phone or video consultation. The client explains what they hope to get from therapy and can ask me questions about how I work. We discuss fees and scheduling. Progress in treatment is measured by the client’s self-reporting of increased satisfaction in work and/or relationships and by a decrease in distressing symptoms. I do not assign homework. In 30 years of practice, I’ve worked with children, adolescents, parents, the elderly, people who were gay or straight, and people of faith. I have also enjoyed working with people who are adjusting to the transition into parenthood.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
Since I started working as a therapist, I have been in group supervision and will continue as long as I’m in practice; this is how I constantly review and enrich my clinical skills. I work with a dedicated group of highly-skilled and experienced colleagues as well as a supervisor who is well-regarded in the field as an author and clinician. I also attend classes at universities and institutes to keep abreast of advances in psychiatry, neurology, pharmacology, and other related fields.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
Since early adulthood, I’ve been concerned with social justice and seen how racism and misogyny have warped people’s lives. My professional path has led to working with a richly varied clientele, diverse in race, culture, age, class, and gender definition. They have all enriched my knowledge and humanity, and I am grateful to them.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
Telephone and video have expanded people’s access to treatment, especially the elderly, the disabled, parents, and other working people who can’t take the time for an office visit. I have been able to expand my own practice to include the disabled and homebound elderly. We clinicians and clients have got to work together to ensure that the health insurance industry continues to offer reimbursement for this type of treatment. I am also interested in the promising research regarding the use of psychedelics for treatment-resistant depression and PTSD.
I often wonder what gives people the courage to start therapy. Why do they seek out a stranger to tell their intimate life story?
Therapy is still seen by many as a sign of weakness when in reality it is a sign of strength. It is stigmatized and sometimes ridiculed, especially by men who often weren’t raised to express their feelings in words instead of actions. I’m still surprised how many men feel that talking about their emotions isn’t manly. I wish therapy could be understood like car maintenance; you keep your car in good working condition so that it can meet all the challenges of being on the road.
“My professional path has led to working with a richly varied clientele, diverse in race, culture, age, class, and gender definition.”