“Therapy is just one hour per week, but much of the work happens outside of the session itself. The goal is to apply insights acquired during sessions to real-world relationships and situations, paving the way to meaningful life changes.”
What was your path to a career in psychology?
In many ways, I feel like psychology found me. From a young age, people opened up to me and felt comfortable talking to me about their challenges, sorrows, and fears. I came to realize the importance of having someone with whom to process complicated and overwhelming emotions. When I took my first psychology course in college, I realized I could do something for a living that I’m truly passionate about.
How has your research informed your practice?
I’ve always been interested in the impact of social media on identity and relationships. I conducted my dissertation research on selfie posting, exploring factors that predict selfie posting on social media. I learned that people have many different motivations for posting selfies, and they often use social media to meet various needs. Being constantly plugged into cell phones and social media can create an illusion of closeness, when in reality, underneath the surface, many people struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness. I am open to working with clients who want to gain greater awareness into their social media habits while navigating the ever-extending adolescence of our modern age.
What’s your approach to collaboration between disciplines and providers?
I believe that collaboration is very important. I often refer patients to other resources outside of our sessions that can be beneficial to them. For instance, if it seems that therapy and other resources are not sufficient for managing symptoms, I may recommend a consultation with a psychiatrist for medication. I’ll often recommend that clients try new practices or activities that can have lasting benefits for mood and energy, such as yoga, meditation, and other physical activities. After all, therapy is just one hour per week, and much of the work happens outside of the session itself.
How do you see the state of mental health today?
I’m a big believer in mental health treatment. I’ve been in therapy myself since before I started graduate school, and I believe that most people can benefit from regular psychotherapy. I hope that as a society, we’ll be able to decrease the stigma toward therapy over time. Though I must say, I’m proud to live in a city where psychotherapy is so ubiquitous that the New York Times dedicated an entire online section to it (“The Couch”).
What does a first session with you look like?
When meeting with a client for the first time, my priority is to create a safe space and to make my client feel comfortable. It takes a great deal of courage to come into therapy for the first time, and I aim to build a trusting relationship to support whatever motivation brought that person to therapy. During the first session, it’s also important for me to get a sense of the client’s history as well as family history – thus, the first session is a mix of opening the space for whatever the client wants to bring in, while asking some important questions to get a sense of how the client got to where they are today.
“The most important thing to me is to create a safe, collaborative space—one in which my client feels comfortable opening up—so that we can explore greater depths together.”