“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?
I knew I wanted to work with people from a young age. I began working at an underserved daycare when I was 13 years old. As an undergraduate student at Stanford, I loved my psychology coursework and research. Upon graduation, I joined Teach For America and taught 6th–9th grades at a public school in Brooklyn and subsequently became the middle school dean. During my role as dean, I found that what energized me most was students confiding in me and bringing me into their inner worlds. This experience inspired me to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology so that I could expand my capacity to effectively help others. I worked with both children and adults during my doctoral training and discovered how much I enjoy working with clients of all ages.
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.”