“My practice as a therapist is primarily directed to individuals who are working through very painful relationship dynamics, identity issues, or individual trauma.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
My development as a therapist began in my childhood home. (Many in our field report a therapeutic role in the family, I’ve learned.) At 16, I remember a profound shift in my view of a family member, who struggled with depression. I began to see her with deep compassion and empathy, and I began to listen to her in a very different way. Seeing her heal and being a part of it, was a profound experience for me. In college, I was drawn to social justice causes and active in them: the anti-war movement, civil rights, feminism and gay rights. At the same time, I had a deep interest in psychology, and I undertook my own first therapy. After college, social work was a natural fit for me as it combined both social justice and the possibility of therapeutic relationships. The highlight of my agency practice was 5+ years as a clinician with “at risk” teenagers. Those young people challenged my assumptions and my world view on so many levels, and at the same time they allowed a deep partnership to develop with me. I was smitten with them and with doing therapy! After seeing how much we all grew in these therapeutic partnerships, I decided to get more advanced clinical training and my own deeper analysis.
What should someone know about working with you?
When we meet you will find someone who listens wholeheartedly with mind, body and spirit! Together we will listen both for your past injuries (resolved and partially resolved) AND for your growth edge: the ways you want to grow but find daunting or hard to even imagine. Therapy will increase your understanding of yourself and others, and it will give you robust skills in working productively with your own difficult emotions, such as fear, anger, grief and longing. It will be an energized relationship that makes you feel more alive and empowered, and yet safer in the world and in your own skin!
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
My research and teaching interests focused first on the parent-child attachment relationship. My doctoral research looked at how first-time mothers described their bonding process with their first child. I wanted to understand both the mothers' struggles and their joys, and the many different pathways attachment can take. For the past ten years, I have focused on childhood trauma, specifically what parents can do to promote or frustrate their child’s healing from trauma. I have presented this research at numerous professional conferences here in New York and abroad. I have taught undergraduate and master’s courses on trauma as a tenured professor at SUNY Empire State College for nine years. I also have a strong research interest in training new therapists and social workers, and was honored to get the Fulbright Scholar award in 2019, to help build the social work curriculum in Vietnam. I continue to supervise training analysts at NIP, my home institute in New York City.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
Finding a language for our needs and our deep hurts was a revelation for me in my own life, and it has been for my clients, too. Learning how to have the difficult conversations with others - and within oneself! - is transformative. And a very big relief!! The Relational psychotherapy I practice offers tools to help us understand the needs we bring to our relationships, and the issues that emerge as we engage with others on more than a surface level. It’s very optimistic, but not naive about just how painful relationships can be. And how hard these conversations are to have. Another core value is staying honest and open to a deeper experiencing of the realities we encounter. My daily practice of mindfulness meditation has helped me stay more open, curious and brave. Because this practice brings the mind back home to the body, it prepared me to undertake advanced clinical training in trauma treatment and somatic therapies and to offer them to my clients: sensorimotor processing, mindfulness-based stress reduction and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
How do you demonstrate respect for diversity?
It is my intent that people from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served in my practice, and that the diversity that people bring to counseling is viewed as a resource, a strength and a benefit. I am committed to listen deeply in ways that are respectful of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, religion, and culture. Together I believe that we can build a conversation that is empowering, deeply accepting and potentially healing. I am aware that as a cisgender, white woman, I represent a culture that systematically tries to suppress those whom it categorizes as “non-white” and not cisgender. It is possible that some of our interactions in building a strong working relationship across lines of difference may evoke strong emotions and discomfort. Together I hope we can hold these feelings with respect and care so that they can be understood and strengthen us for the long run.
“It will be an energized relationship that makes you feel more alive and empowered!”