“My insatiable curiosity, type-A drive, and optimistic temperament help my clients feel heard, respected, believed in, and championed.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I spent my early 20s performing as a vocalist in venues around the US and abroad. I gradually realized that I was far more interested in hearing the voices of others than in trumpeting my own; so, I made the shift to social work! I was initially hesitant to study evidence-based, structured interventions (such as CBT) for fear that they would be too rigid. But creativity comes from constraint and there is tremendous freedom and flexibility within evidence-based therapies! Moreover, I have found that evidence-based approaches teach people tangible skills to help them get better and STAY better. My insatiable curiosity, type-A drive, and optimistic temperament help my clients feel heard, respected, believed in, and championed. While my approach is grounded in research-proven methods and specific skills, my background in the performing arts helps me blend my sessions with creativity and I am a firm believer in catering therapy to meet the beautifully specific needs of the individuals I treat.
What should someone know about working with you?
As an evidence-based clinician, I believe the best way to measure progress is through establishing a baseline. To that end, my intake process includes some short, simple assessments to evaluate the presence of certain symptoms, which we can then track throughout the duration of treatment. Progress to me is both quantifiable (tracking symptoms) and subjective (your perception of growth and your overall feeling of wellness). For individuals interested in skills-building approaches (such as CBT or trauma treatments), I will encourage work outside of our sessions. Change takes practice, and while there are 168 hours in a week, we only spend one of those in session together. The onus is on you to practice the skills we learn together! Above all, I believe in meeting people where they are and curating a therapeutic approach that feels right for the client, which may or may not involve homework.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
Being an effective clinician requires a lifelong dedication to learning and professional self-improvement. The science of mental health is ever-evolving and it is important not to become complacent or married to one style of thinking and practice. Because of this, I am a perma-student! Through readings, continuing education, and peer supervision, I stay open and curious about new ways to encourage change and growth in the people I treat.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I am thrilled about our evolution in understanding the connection between mind and body and the ways in which we are targeting this link in our treatment of trauma, depression, and other conditions. Our experiences are catalogued not only in our brains but in our bones and I am thrilled to see the ways in which therapy modalities are evolving to address both cognitive and somatic experiences.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
In my first postgraduate school job, I worked in a community clinic where, with no knowledge of how to help, I was given a full caseload of individuals with complex trauma histories. I felt overwhelmed and impotent and, while I strove to make my clients feel seen and heard, no amount of validation could address their debilitating post-traumatic stress symptoms. A desire to find research-supported ways to help led me to the Center for Traumatic Stress at Allegheny General Hospital; here, I was trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and worked alongside the model's founders, Drs. Judith Cohen and Anthony Mannarino. I watched, mesmerized, as short-term (3-6 months), modularized treatment helped my clients significantly improve. Learning about trauma, and how the way in which we THINK about things influences both our feelings and our reactions, allowed my clients to forge new meanings from their traumas.This deeply shapes my work today.
“While my approach is grounded in research-proven methods and specific skills, my background in the performing arts helps me blend my sessions with creativity and I am a firm believer in catering therapy to meet the beautifully specific needs of the individuals I treat.”