“In therapy, my goal is to join with clients to co-navigate the complexities, obstacles, and opportunities of modern life.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
As a queer person, I learned early on that stigma can impact our opportunities to thrive and care for ourselves. My own journey toward wellness motivated me to support people affected by isolation, identity, and uncertainty. Psychology has played an incredibly helpful role in my life, so I am determined to use my experience and skills to support others in their recovery. This interest led me to pursue my PhD at Columbia, and train at sites including Montefiore, Harvard, and the University of Cape Town. Now, as a clinician, my work focuses on ways we can create meaning from trauma and isolation. In therapy, my goal is to join with clients to co-navigate the complexities, obstacles, and opportunities of modern life.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
My first priority with clients is to establish a safe, non-judgmental, and collaborative working relationship. Even from our first session, we will take time to co-create a strong therapeutic alliance: a dynamic of curiosity, care, and mutual trust. I’ll ask what brought you in, then we’ll set a framework and talk candidly about what we hope to gain from our work together. Within therapy, I tend to prioritize the here and now. While your past experiences and future plans are essential, we will likely talk about them in the context of how you feel at the moment, in the room. This can be daunting at first, then grows incredibly rewarding. After the first session, we will work to deepen emotional exploration, interrupt unhelpful patterns, and work toward emotional, physical, and relational wellness.
What can I expect to gain from time in therapy?
From session to session, you can be certain to expect that I will give you my undivided focus and time. I won’t judge you for anything you say, even those parts of your past and present that you may be nervous to share. Expectations are tough but equally important. For most of us, our parents and families were unable to meet some of our basic needs. This may have caused us to fear getting close to new people later in life, or to hold back more the vulnerable parts of ourselves. My job as a clinician is to help you learn how to create healthy boundaries and develop a new relationship with your expectations without sacrificing your needs. We also tend to internalize some really harsh and unattainable expectations. Therapy aims to help you analyze and loosen your grip on these often unachievable conditions of worth.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
Feelings are scary! I think one of the biggest barriers and reinforcements to how scary feelings are is that we stay so busy, especially living in New York. We’ve been taught that we shouldn’t make time to feel our feelings, that there’s isn’t a minute in the day to deal with our emotional experiences and meet our emotional needs. One of my goals in therapy is to help you slow down. We’ll work together to develop tools for dealing with those hard feelings and, in the moment, engage in new emotional experiences.
If you could pick one or two books that influenced your approach to therapy what would they be and why?
Two phenomenal, yet very different books come to mind. The first is Tales of the City, a series written by the silly, brilliant novelist Armistead Maupin. These books began as a newspaper column in the 1970s and tell the story of a group of friends navigating love, heartache, and newfound independence. I loved these stories growing up and continue to return to them. The sincerity, empathy, and joy in each page inspire me to celebrate the same with my clients. The second book is Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times. This is a really amazing collection of letters from artists, activists, and psychologists aimed to “lift you, feed you, shake you awake, offer insight, and help you feel less alone.” What could be better than that? I hope psychotherapy can do the same: offer an opportunity for my clients to engage in radical hope.
“One of my goals in therapy is to help you slow down. We’ll work together to develop tools for dealing with those hard feelings and, in the moment, engage in new emotional experiences.”