Benefits of My Approach
I bring years of clinical experience, study and training to my time with you, but I never forget that none of that matters to you if you don’t feel heard and feel better. I combine techniques that work in the short-term with insight that comes from long-term approaches. You could say this is like “power therapy” because it’s a combination of schools of thought working together.
Peer reviewed studies have demonstrated that the most important element of success in therapy is having good chemistry with your therapist. I agree.
What You Can Expect from Working with Me
A lot of education about mental health and psychotherapy can get in the way of really connecting as one human being to another. I focus on understanding you as a person and what it’s like to be you before doing anything else. I make sure you feel heard and then put together a picture of what a treatment plan would look like. This includes the approach we want to take that best addresses your needs and goals. Once we agree on that approach, we get started.
As we put together a treatment plan, I will explain the various methods and approaches to therapy that I think would be best and be happy to answer any questions you may have about psychotherapy in general.
I try to have my mind as open as possible for each session, to change assumptions I may have made, and to learn from you as we go. In therapy there is a commonly used term I find unhelpful: “maladaptive”. The word implies that there is something “wrong” with a person’s reaction to stress. In trauma treatment we say that PTSD is a “normal reaction to abnormal circumstances.” I see the process of growing up to be similar. As children, we develop ways of coping with life which seem to work at the time, but which, when we become adults, may actually become a problem rather than a solution. I don’t see that as “maladaptive”: I respect it. I will always greet what you share with that in mind; what you are experiencing could easily be my experience too. Change is not easy—if it were, we wouldn’t need therapists.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, licensed to practice in 7 states. I am also a board-certified tele-mental health provider who does online therapy. I have over 6,000 hours of supervised training and have been practicing for 13 years.
Prior to clinical training I worked as a francophone interpreter for refugees and survivors of torture in psychotherapy. As I translated for our French speaking clients, I had the opportunity to work closely with many talented psychotherapists, psychiatrists and physicians. I continued doing professional case management for refugees. As a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) I was required to complete over 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work prior to being licensed. I also completed an “R” privilege in New York State, meaning that I have competed an additional 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work. During training in psychoanalysis, I conducted two supervised intensive psychoanalytic treatments, in addition to going on to do many intensive psychoanalytic treatments in my private practice. I have years of experience treating a wide range of conditions, using many different clinical approaches.
In addition to social work training, I have 5 years of post-graduate training in psychoanalysis, as well as dozens of hours of post-graduate training in treating trauma and PTSD, cognitive behavioral therapy and schema therapy. I specialize in addressing depression, anxiety, ADD, and personality disorders. I continue to improve myself as a clinician with training and regular consultation with veteran clinicians.
Originally from the South Side of Chicago, I started film school where I soon realized I was interested in real life stories and how narrative has profound psychological effects. I began studying philosophy and literature and was drawn to finishing a degree in French and a year of study at the Sorbonne in Paris. Once I returned to Chicago I began volunteering as an interpreter for psychotherapy with francophone political asylees from Africa who were survivors of torture. This was the beginning of my path toward becoming a psychotherapist. From my time working with people from different cultures I learned a valuable lesson about psychotherapy: the person in need of help always comes before your psychological theories. Collective cultures often value the therapeutic power of close relationships rather than consulting a professional. I learned to value humanism and to remain skeptical of psychiatry as the only cure for trauma and mental health issues.
I moved to New York City just after 9/11 where I started community organizing work with the International Trauma Studies program and the Downtown Community Resilience project while volunteering as an extern with the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. I continued community organizing as a “day job” while completing my degree in social work. Part of my training involved an internship with the Veterans Administration providing psychotherapy for combat veterans. As a mental health consultant I traveled in a team to Iraq as part of an NGO project to train mental health providers the fundamentals of trauma treatment.
I continued community organizing as a program director with a non-profit, managing staff, raising money, and building partnerships with government and local organizations. From there I devoted myself full-time to work as a staff psychotherapist with a community mental health center in The Bronx. This clinic served the local community—particularly those with serious chronic mental illness— while also receiving patients discharged from hospital inpatient units in need of outpatient care. I treated a broad variety of conditions and had a comprehensive education in types of psychotherapy including dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and long-term supportive therapy.
While working at the clinic I pursued psychoanalytic training with four years of course work and conducted supervised psychoanalysis in my private practice. While my training in psychoanalysis has been valuable and meaningful to me, I decided that my clinical philosophy valued an open-minded approach to technique and ways of understanding patients and that I didn’t want to confine myself to a single approach.
I enjoy devoting myself to the process of learning new concepts of mental health and healing. As you will see in my resume, I retain memberships in a wide variety of mental health professional communities which provide valuable ongoing support and resources.
A Note on Online Therapy
As a board-certified provider of tele-mental health care, I make sure we establish an online setting which feels close, personable and human. While online therapy may not be for everyone, it is actually very effective and similar to the experience of being in the same room together in profound ways. Please be aware that if you engage a clinician for mental health treatment online, professional associations have established a rule that the therapist must have a license in the state in which you reside, while international regulations are much more permissive. I am licensed to practice in California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, and the District of Columbia and have extensive experience working with expats and natives of many countries.