“I find that helping others identify, listen to, and modify the relationship we have with our internal voice is a lot of the work of good therapy.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
As my means of weathering family troubles and emotional neglect, I turned inward and began to write, journal, and draw. I got to know myself by creating a "dialogue" between my subjective and objective selves. The disconnection from an embodied experience of self and the long road back to integration showed me empathy and compassion for all of those struggling to live and grow in the face of pain and challenges. It also attuned me to the inner voice with which we all dialogue. I find that helping others identify, listen to, and modify the relationship we have with our internal voice — the ways we talk to and care for ourselves in this private and often unconscious dialogue — is a lot of the work of good therapy.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I am an exhibiting mixed media artist. I like to create works where disparate and ridiculous things juxtapose, similar to dream narratives. My art practice complements my ongoing development as a clinician. They're both rooted in the process of expressing things that come from an unconscious or preconscious awareness — things that have been encoded in memory through non-verbal pathways.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I am excited about new psychedelic medicine protocols that are opening up, promising new treatment dimensions for complex PTSD, racial trauma, suicidality, depression, and anxiety, as well as for the spiritual despair that's growing like cancer in our current culture. I am growing the part of my practice that helps people to integrate spiritual and mystical experiences into their day-to-day lives. Big life changes often accompany psychedelic expansion, and I see myself as a psychological sherpa in helping others navigate this landscape.
If you could pick one movie that influenced your approach to therapy, what would it be and why?
In college, I spent my junior year abroad in London studying social psychology. I remember ducking into a matinée one day to watch a film about Carl Jung’s work with patients. In a scene that has stayed with me for decades, Jung describes his work with one hospitalized patient who believed herself to be on the moon. Rather than medicating her psychosis away, as his colleagues were arguing to do, he sat with her and talked with her as if she was really on the moon. He asked her what she saw there and what it was like. She was able to open so many dimensions of her inner world to him without fear of judgment or repercussions. That one scene taught me so much about the healing power of true empathy and careful listening.
Is there any research-based work you’ve done that you found particularly exciting and how has that informed your practice today?
I was part of a research group at Yale’s counseling center that focused on creating and testing scales for measuring our internal representational world and how it might change over time as a result of treatment. My unique contribution was in extending our measures into a post-termination phase. I looked at what I called the half-life of psychotherapy, as seen in a phenomenon called after-work. After-work is the ongoing work that follows the formal termination of the therapeutic relationship. Its measurement relies on the internalization of the therapeutic dialogue, so that the conversation continues after therapy’s end. My research identified some of the factors that determined the maintenance of positive changes over time.
“I am growing the part of my practice that helps people to integrate spiritual and mystical experiences into their day-to-day lives.”