The ambition to become a psychologist traces back to my first experience in psychotherapy as an adolescent. That psychologist not only helped me through a turbulent time, the example she modeled made me wonder if I could develop the ability to work in ways she did, making connections between past and present, between family dynamics and personal relationships, while offering guidance in an empathetic, caring manner.
It’s been a long road since then. After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Maryland, I worked for four years for Westat, a government contractor, in the area of human factors research. This provided an excellent foundation in research methods and statistics, skills that have transferred into being a consumer of psychological research as it informs clinical practice. It also provided a foundation of business and consulting skills that have transferred into the small business owner aspect of private practice, as well as the peer consultation facet of my practice.
Working for some period of time between undergraduate and graduate training also provided the chance to live and to mature in ways that I believe are vital to clinical work. Whenever a college student asks me about pursuing doctoral study, I recommend taking some time first to experience the world. I prepared for doctoral study during these years by sampling a variety of psychology-related experiences, including volunteer work for a geriatric research program at the National Institutes of Health.
My doctoral training began in 1999 when I joined the APA-accredited program in clinical psychology at Antioch University New England, located in Keene, New Hampshire. Antioch is known for both its rigorous academic culture and socially progressive world view. The appeal of Antioch was its encouragement of students to bring their ‘whole selves’ to learning–not simply an accumulation of knowledge, but a full engagement of mind, heart, and social responsibility.
Doctoral training in psychology involves both didactic learning and a series of supervised clinical experiences. My training included a year-long practicum at Tewksbury State Hospital in Massachusetts, where I practiced individual and group psychotherapy on an inpatient psychiatric unit.
My next training experience took place at Northeastern University’s Center for Counseling and Student Development, where I practiced psychotherapy with college students. I later returned to Northeastern to work as a member of the counseling center staff.
Following completion of my academic coursework in 2003, I moved to New York where I matched with the pre-doctoral internship program at Stony Brook University Counseling Center, which is known for its application of psychoanalytic theory to a multicultural student population.
Inspired by this and previous experiences working in university counseling centers, my dissertation research examined how theories of psychological development may inform psychotherapy practice for college students in university counseling centers.
Upon earning my doctorate in 2005, an additional year of supervised experience is required for licensure. I gained these hours at Pesach Tikvah, a mental health agency in Brooklyn that serves the Hassidic population in Williamsburg. I ended up continuing on for several years at this agency where I provided psychotherapy to patients in a continuing day treatment program and provided psychological consultation to a residential home for women with developmental disabilities.
I earned my license in 2006, upon which I opened my private practice. As the practice has grown, I have branched out from clinical work to serve as the executive director of TherapySafetyNet and to provide consultation to other clinicians for private practice business development and modernization.