“Upon becoming a psychiatric nurse, I saw I was able to connect with clients and their families in a way that being a physician, due to the fragmentation of our healthcare system, does not allow.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I have always worked in the mental health field. My early work was related to service coordination for individuals with chronic psychiatric illness. I have worked with people who were undomiciled, undocumented, those with substance use disorders, those diagnosed and living with HIV/AIDS, and those with chronic mental health issues. I also spent time working in research. These were important years because they taught me how to attend to and really listen to an individual’s story. There is a statistic that physicians interrupt patients within the first 30 seconds of an encounter. I always keep that in mind, allowing the client to express themselves fully. I was always interested in medicine. However, the traditional medicine path does not allow for quality patient interaction. Upon becoming a psychiatric nurse, I saw I was able to connect with clients and their families in a way that being a physician, due to the fragmentation of our healthcare system, does not allow.
What should someone know about working with you?
As a psych NP, the first session with me will be a thorough history-taking; this is called a psychiatric evaluation. I will ask the client about their social and medical histories. We will also cover past mental health treatment, if any. The intake appointment can be challenging for some because the clinician may be covering sensitive issues. It can be hard to open up to a stranger and that's okay.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
Being a native of New York City has particularly informed my practice. I am fortunate to have been exposed to multiple cultures, ethnicities, religions, socioeconomic demographics, and gender expressions. When working with clients, I consider how historical, as well as current, forces may be impacting them. Obviously, I can’t know what each person has experienced, but staying informed of issues in various communities can assist me in supporting my clients.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
In my late 20s, I transitioned from clinical care to addiction research. At the time, I was trying to increase my chances of gaining entry into a graduate program and research is often a common step in that process. I learned so much about the complexities of people with substance use disorders, including the strong genetic link in the development of SUDs. In addition to being a psychiatric clinician, I am also a nurse educator. My research foundations are applied in my clinical settings and with my students as well. I stress the role of genetics and brain chemistry in the development of psychiatric disorders, which helps to demystify and destigmatize mental health issues.
“I stress the role of genetics and brain chemistry in the development of psychiatric disorders, which helps to demystify and destigmatize mental health issues.”