I am a NYU-trained psychotherapist with a Master’s of Philosophy from KU Leuven in Belgium and a Master’s of Science from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and am currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Bioethics at NYU. As a psychotherapist with a background in philosophy, I get to know how my individual patient’s mind operates–how the totality of his or her desires, beliefs, emotions, and motivations fit together to form a style of thought or pattern of behavior. I work to understand how these elements fit together, and when they do not, what prevents that. This involves developing a sincere and intimate relationship built on trust and mutual respect. I pay careful attention to lived experience in order to understand not only what is going wrong, but what is going right, and how to increase that in my patients’ lives.
I am not solely a practitioner or an armchair theorist, but marry the two in both my work with patients and my research, in which I have examined Nietzsche’s relationship to psychoanalysis, conducted direct social scientific research on the pathways to substance use, and investigated bioethics and the philosophy of psychology and psychiatry in relation to both end-of-life-care and the concept of “disorder.” To me, philosophy is a domain of inquiry and a way of thinking that involves intellectual rigor, and a willingness to engage in deep and uncomfortable questions without shying away. Often when someone feels trapped by a situation, they cannot see the full range of available options. First and foremost, I understand philosophy as training in analyzing complex issues, taking stock of the possible responses, and formulating a logical and coherent response, which I bring into my therapy.
My interest in working directly with patients began while I was teaching kids and teens with autism spectrum disorders. I’ve repeatedly found that when individuals are given emotional support and the right supplementary materials they often achieve a high level of ability in both work and academic settings. This is a topic that I explored in an article published in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, and which influenced my thinking immensely. Teaching these kids and teens was the point at which I first recognized my ability to be that person to provide support in other people’s lives.
In addition to several clinical certifications, including in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), I studied psychodynamic theory and psychoanalysis at the Baltimore Washington Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. As a school counselor, I worked with high school students with severe educational and emotional needs. While there, I developed and provided instruction on a social skills course, designed and implemented a wood-working program, and worked directly with students on interpersonal skills, relationship issues, and navigating the inevitable problems that arise from being a teenager on the verge of adulthood. I also worked at Maimonides Medical Center with patients where I ran groups on meditation, loss and bereavement, anxiety, and interpersonal skills, as well as worked with patients in both long- and short-form individual therapy focusing on anxiety and depression.
I believe there is not a singular way of helping a patient or their symptoms, that there is no one right way to approach a problem, and that humans are far more malleable than we give ourselves credit. No one approach – whether it is psychoanalysis or cognitive behavioral therapy – is fully adequate to address every concern in every circumstance. The result is an approach to therapy that does not focus exclusively on symptom reduction or diagnosis, and that recognizes that humans are more than a constellation of loosely connected traits and dispositions. Therapy doesn’t just involve taking away painful and distressing feelings, it means creating a life worth living.