“People need and want to be recognized for who they are. They want their suffering and their joy acknowledged.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
As a child, I was particularly shy and often met with comments from adults that felt shaming and turned me further inward. Looking back, I see how this experience influenced who I became and informs aspects of who I am. As an observer, rather than a participant, I grew acutely attuned to other people’s behavior and their interactions with one another. I also realized that, because I was quiet, others assumed I did not want to be seen or known. In reality, if they would have come to know me better, they would have realized how painful my shyness was. This informed my developing view that people need and want to be recognized for who they are. They want their suffering and their joy acknowledged. I am committed to helping everyone develop a voice and compassion for themselves.
What should someone know about working with you?
A fellow trainee at the Brooklyn VA gave me the most meaningful feedback I’ve received as a clinical psychologist. In relaying what we trainees all valued in one another, she told me how appreciative she was that I “keep it real,” and I believe that this is my defining characteristic as a person and clinician. I am genuine, direct, and transparent. I allow clients access to my thought process, often thinking out loud, and invite them to join me as an equal collaborator in this shared and intimate venture. I believe this way of working facilitates a safe and mutual relationship that is an essential part of purposeful reflection.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
In my work, I place great emphasis on collaborating with other clinicians, psychiatrists, and health professionals. In doing so, I know we are working to provide the best possible care for our clients, and clients often feel more supported in the process. I participate in weekly consultations with a senior psychologist and in a weekly peer-based consultation group, both of which are confidential spaces. These spaces allow me to slow down, reflect on my work, and learn from and with my colleagues. I believe that one of the many benefits of collaborative dialogue is that it facilitates alternative ways of thinking about and approaching our sessions.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
I am by no means a proponent of withholding or perpetuating mystery in my work. I am very human: flawed and open to feedback or criticism. With that being said, the research I conducted for my dissertation offered me a unique understanding of the importance of choosing what I share with my clients. My doctoral research focused on individuals who had a “negative” experience with a therapist’s use of self-disclosure (i.e., when the therapist reveals personal information about themselves as it relates to the client’s treatment). What I discovered was that clients often felt that their therapist shared personal experiences in a way that was intrusive, disruptive to the treatment, or self-involved. At times, clients felt burdened by their perceived need to comfort the therapist in a way that made them feel uncomfortable and uncertain of how to proceed. These findings directly inform the way that I practice. I am thoughtful and deliberate about how and when I bring myself into the room. I always ask, “how is this helpful for my client?” before self-disclosing.
What makes this work so meaningful to you?
I have had the privilege of working with a diverse group of individuals in many distinctly different settings. They varied in age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. I am constantly amazed that individuals, particularly those who have such different backgrounds than my own, entrust me to care for them and allow me access to the most intimate parts of themselves. I am always in awe and always humbled by this opportunity. It is a deeply moving experience to watch individuals make progress in whatever form that takes for them. To acknowledge to myself that I may have contributed to this growth is profoundly and immensely rewarding.
“I allow clients access to my thought process, often thinking out loud, and invite them to join me as an equal collaborator in this shared and intimate venture.”