“There is unavoidable pain in life, but there is no need to suffer.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I have struggled with varying levels of depression, as many people do—and as most therapists have. After healing to a space of clarity, I recognized that what it takes to get there is a combination of insights, tools, courage, assessment of symptoms, sometimes medicine, and the love and support of a therapist. Even the most optimistic and hardworking people I know suffer intermittently from depression—and it is not a character flaw. It is real, and it can be numbing, overwhelming, and exhausting. There is unavoidable pain in life, but there is no need to suffer. Becoming a therapist has allowed me to help others on their own paths to healing.
What should someone know about working with you?
I believe the most important part of therapy is the relationship—the match between client and therapist. Together, we can explore long-held patterns, as well as defenses that were adaptive at one point but no longer are. I encourage my clients to be curious regarding the confusion and shame of situations and emotions. Once we judge ourselves, our actions, or our feelings, we shut down a lot of information. I believe we are all wonderfully sensitive and complicated—and we all deserve the opportunity to heal from our pain.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
Collaborating with other providers is essential for traction within the work. I always initially refer my clients to their primary physicians—there are many physical illnesses with depression or anxiety as a side effect. One of my clients came in with severe anxiety with no root cause. After going to five different doctors and every one of them saying it was anxiety, she finally got a second opinion from another endocrinologist. My client had a tumor on her pituitary gland that caused heightened levels of cortisol—so high they mirrored anxiety. While talking can’t magically take away a tumor or other health conditions, an integration of talking, medicine, and nutraceuticals (foods with health benefits) can help. Because of this, collaborating with physicians is very important to me.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
There are many paths to healing—and therapy is just one of them. Therapy breaks up the isolation within an individual or couple's life and leads to progress. If you are drawn to trying out therapy, go therapist shopping. Interview three therapists and choose one that feels right. Just like you would not buy the first shirt you try on, don’t just sign up for the first therapist you meet. Therapy is an investment of your money and your time. The bottom line is this: Finding the right therapist and doing the work will allow you to build relationships and friendships from a space of want, rather than need. And that is invaluable.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
About 10 years ago, I was the director of an organization called KIDS Turn that provided group therapy for children whose parents were divorcing. Within the organization, we researched the efficacy of our interventions. Over the past decade, as a therapist for both individuals and couples, I’ve seen firsthand how healing strong mediation sessions can be—and how truly detrimental litigation can be to the family unit as a whole. We argue to remain joined to one another, but in order to let go and move on, we need to move beyond ourselves and speak to one another at the most painful time of our lives: divorce. Doing this successfully requires a very skilled therapist.
“Finding the right therapist and doing the work will allow you to build relationships and friendships from a space of want, rather than need.”