“Every new therapeutic relationship is a reinvention of the art, specifically created to tune into the client’s unique psychology.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
My path to becoming a psychotherapist began with thinking I should either be a medical doctor or an abstract expressionist oil painter. For me, art is a process of observing and metabolizing my internal and emotional life. In pre-med courses, I felt that medicine was divorced from anything like art. It lacked a model for creativity, understanding, and helping the emotional side of things. I didn’t feel like I was actually learning the work of helping people—just their bodies. I needed a new path and I found psychology. It spoke to me as a way to bridge these worlds. I believe that while psychotherapy is grounded in theory and science, it is also a creative process. Every new therapeutic relationship is a reinvention of the art, specifically created to tune into the client’s unique psychology.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I am an active psychotherapist. I put the therapeutic relationship at the heart of treatment because I view recognition and dissociation as the main tools we have as therapists to understand our clients’ minds. And to do that, we need to build a relationship. We need to talk a lot. It almost doesn’t matter about what. We need to establish a sense of trust in each other and knowledge about how each of us thinks. I work hard to attune myself to you—I’m interested in exploring your memories, development, family, thoughts, emotions, dreams, and fantasies. I want to experience your mind the way you experience it yourself.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
Honestly, I think it’s the people themselves. There is a stigma around psychotherapy, especially for men, that there is something inherently wrong with you if you seek treatment. (Spoiler: Everyone has something wrong in her or his life.) But stigma is real and powerful—and even though people know psychotherapy can be helpful, they tend to avoid stigma at all costs. However, I can’t count the number of clients who come to therapy worrying about stigma and find that they feel better because of the sessions. Everything you experience can be worked on: resistance, shame, vulnerability, fear—you name it. Psychotherapy is a way to help that doesn’t involve judgment, labeling, or stigmatizing.
If you could pick one or two movies that influenced your approach to therapy, what would they be and why?
“What About Bob.” Even though Richard Dreyfuss played a caricature of a psychoanalyst, it made a strong impression on me. It was a classic example of the problem of patriarchy in psychoanalysis—where the analyst is the “expert” with the power and the client must submit to their expertise. I strongly believe that psychotherapy should not be practiced using a patriarchal model. Instead, the client is the expert since they are the one who is living the life in question. My role in the therapeutic relationship is to help the client recognize parts of their narrative that exist in between the lines. Relational psychoanalysis, which is the school I have been trained in, views the client and the therapist as collaborators in a co-created, shared conversation.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I am very inspired by the relational psychology movement. Relational psychoanalysis views the client and the therapist as equals—collaborators in a co-created conversation. It is a powerful technique with emphasis on the here-and-now, while still observing moments of dissociation and emotions during sessions. Using this approach, we can discover how your difficulties may have begun and how they persist. We will often focus on negative emotional experiences, like depression, shame, envy, and anger—recognition and dissociation are cornerstones of relational psychoanalysis. This model also looks for moments of disagreement or even resentment between the client and the psychotherapist. Usually these indicate a critical moment of disconnection that could have important implications for how you function in the interpersonal world. Repairing these conflicts and re-establishing trust is thought to be one of the most important ways therapy contributes to lasting improvement in a person’s moods and life patterns.
“My role in the therapeutic relationship is to help the client recognize parts of their narrative that exist in between the lines.”