“I believe the foundation for therapeutic change lies in the relationship between client and therapist.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
At a young age, I witnessed firsthand the potential for healthy attachment relationships to allow a person to thrive. I studied psychology at Stanford and joined Teach For America upon graduation, where I taught at a public school in Brooklyn. I subsequently became the middle school dean and found that what energized me most was students confiding in me and bringing me into their inner worlds. I wanted to expand my capacity to effectively help others, so I pursued a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I find that working with children influences my work with adults in that everyone was a child once and understanding childhood experiences can inform our understanding of who a person has and will become.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I strive to create a safe space free of judgement, shame, and guilt. Psychotherapy can be difficult, as it can be hard to let yourself feel vulnerable. Sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings is challenging. I believe the foundation for therapeutic change lies is the relationship between client and therapist. It is essential to establish a strong and trusting rapport, which takes time. I will not push you to share beyond what is comfortable initially, but will work with you towards becoming increasingly open in our work together. Together, we will explore past and current thoughts, feelings, relationships, and experiences. I will also employ more active strategies to target symptom reduction. I consider myself to be warm and empathic. I believe that collaboration is key to meet each client’s needs and goals.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
The connection between client and therapist needs to be authentic, positive, and trusting. Not every therapist is a good fit, and it’s important to acknowledge that your first therapeutic relationship may not feel right. If and when this happens, it does not mean that therapy is not for you. I would encourage you to be persistent in trying to find a therapist with whom you will connect meaningfully. Don’t settle for anything less. If you’re not feeling the right “vibe” in therapy, it will be harder to meet your treatment goals. There is somebody out there who can help you find and feel like your best self — you just need to find them.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I have been very pleased to witness a broad societal shift whereby people are much more willing to openly discuss mental health, therapy, and similarly sensitive topics today than ever before. I have seen mental health take center stage in political debates, become a much larger coverage focus for insurance companies, and inspire today’s entrepreneurs and investors to build technologies that facilitate care. People can feel so alone when going through difficult times, and I hope the evaporation of the societal stigma around mental health treatment encourages people to embrace therapy as a tool for self-improvement and self-fulfillment.
Is there any research-based work you’ve done that you found particularly exciting and how has that informed your practice today?
I have conducted extensive research on attachment, from infancy through adulthood, and have found that it is one of the most important drivers of success across multiple domains. A secure attachment relationship with a key figure in one’s life provides a foundation for other healthy relationships, and facilitates the capacity to explore and thrive. In one of my doctoral research projects, I examined the association between attachment and reflective functioning, the ability to reflect upon one’s thoughts and feelings as well as those of other people, which is an important skill in better understanding ourselves and others. Therapy is the ideal forum to discuss past and current attachment relationships, and the therapeutic relationship serves as a model for developing and strengthening outside relationships.
“I hope the evaporation of the societal stigma around mental health treatment encourages people to embrace therapy as a tool for self-improvement and self-fulfillment.”