“This is how I view therapy: You meet each client where they are in their worldview, you understand their theory of creating change, and you honor their reality.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
At the age of 17, I came across a documentary on the Discovery Channel about a surgeon who was attempting to show two-year-old twin girls what would occur after the procedure they were scheduled to have. At that time, the field of medical family therapy had not yet been created, but this surgeon took it upon himself to sew two Cabbage Patch dolls together, to resemble the girls, and separate the dolls to show them their future. For me, this was life-transforming; I always knew I wanted to somehow work in the medical field but not as a medical doctor. Here was a man who thought and believed it was so important to find a way to connect with his patients, no matter how young they were. This is how I view therapy: You meet each client where they are in their worldview, you understand their theory of creating change, and you honor their reality. I was taking a psychology class during my senior year in high school and decided to pursue a career that would get me closer to what this surgeon did.
What should someone know about working with you?
The client-therapist relationship starts from the very first conversation, which often occurs over the phone. For many people, this is crucial to becoming a bit more comfortable with the process and our relationship. It is a joy to hear a client say, toward the end of the first session, how nervous they were and how relieved they are now. It is such an honor to have a complete stranger trust you with their life's narrative and tell you what brings them joy and the struggles they are enduring. It is imperative for clients to feel a good fit between us; their time is my priority and the sessions should never be anything but a positive experience for each client.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I cherish my work with immigrant and multicultural families. My grandparents were all from Romania and my family of origin is from Israel. I left Israel at the age of six and moved to South America where I lived until the age of 21. I relate to every client who grew up in a different country with an understanding of what was left behind, what our parents left when it was their time to move as adults, and what our hearts left behind, too. The nostalgia that is always there, combined at times with trauma and sadness, is always honored and respected during therapeutic conversations. We are probably never the people we used to be in another place; life moves forward and we strive to adjust and adapt with it. At times, this adjustment challenges us, and this is where the decisions we make in our everyday life conflict and combine with our upbringing and traditions. My approach is always one where I honor the values of our unique cultural backgrounds.
How do you view the process of therapy?
Back in the 1980s, magicians Penn and Teller used to perform a trick in which the audience would get to partially see the structure behind the magic. Once you know how a trick occurs, you are no longer surprised or affected by its presence the same way. This is how I view and interpret the changes that occur in the therapy process: We get a glimpse, an entrance, into the behaviors that hurt us, the words that weaken us, and the relationship dynamics that create specific repetitive reactions in us. Once we see these patterns, our behaviors are guided by more self-awareness, which, hopefully, leads us toward a successful solution.
“I cherish my work with immigrant and multicultural families.”