From the earliest of my years, I found myself wondering about the world and how it worked. I was probably a pretty serious little guy, but I’ve always had an appreciation for humor and laughter, which keeps me honest. But the wonder about how things work and what makes them that way continues to keep me interested in understanding my clients and the issues their lives bring to them.
Growing up in the Bronx in New York City – I lived in a very urban environment. But one day, while wandering the outskirts of my neighborhood, I literally found a footbridge that went over a roadway and into another world – at least that’s what it was like for me. I didn’t know it at the time but it was the backwoods of the Bronx botanical Garden. It was a wilderness area for sure, very few people went there, but I discovered the Bronx river along with the ducks that swam in it. if you grew up in the country, that probably wouldn’t be very startling, but for me at that time, it was an amazing adventure. For a little guy who was interested in science from an early age, the opening of the enjoyment of nature brought a balance, another side of things, and opened a part of my life that hasn’t closed since.
In college I found that my mind was very intrigued by integrating separate materials. I saw that course readings from one course illuminated ideas and data from course readings in entirely unrelated courses. It’s as if my whole slate of studies was one big course with many interrelationships. Sometimes I wrote papers that way, which my professors were surprised but intrigued by.
My various undergraduate studies in things like biology psychology, sociology, philosophy gave me a broad base of learning and understanding. It made it easier for me later in life when I wanted to study various fields, I had the background and the basics to be able to jump in. It also taught me something else. No one field of study, be it a science, a philosophy, a spiritual path, none could give a complete picture. Each had its own lens and each lens showed us something different about life and the world. To this day, I have more then one theory, one perspective that I use to understand the brain, the mind,
and what is happening when my clients have distress or confusion, impasses in their relationships, or are just overwhelmed with their emotions.
After college, I explored various professions, looking for something that was both challenging, and had meaning. I found I had an innate aptitude for counseling and I ultimately pursued a social work degree at Columbia University. I already had an interest in the holistic side of things, and this clinical program filled in more of the blanks while being “system oriented” it was a perfect fit for my emerging understanding of what helping and health really were.
Upon graduation, I spent 6 years working for the Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene (where I lived at the time) in a variety of programs. I also continued my own studies of various kinds. I came of age as a mental health professional in the era of the “experiential therapies.” A wide range of exploration was going on, expressive therapies such as art therapy, music therapy, movement therapies, and guided imagery, were on the rise. Gestalt therapy with it’s emphasis on being in the moment (in vogue again with current therapies such as DBT (spell this out)), Jungian therapies were resurgent and Process Oriented therapies in general were all the rage. I learned a lot from these studies and experiences. And like the cross referencing of material that I did in college, I have continued to apply these ideas and approaches to other forms of therapy as I have worked through the years.
When I began to develop my own private practice, the interest in holistic approaches developed into the Linden Tree Center – a fixture in the Poughkeepsie area for a decade – and a bastion for collaboration with traditional health professionals and other holistically oriented individuals. During these years I studied more ways to fill in my picture of mental health, the brain, where we have come from and where we are going. I studied anatomy, the rise of consciousness from the earliest roots of the animal kingdom, the steps the brain made along the way as it developed, and I joined the “decade of the brain” learning more about how this most complex of organs works, and what it means for us in everyday life.
At this point in my career, I am continuing to integrate different therapies, different knowledge. I like to think I bring a different blend to each client, to each situation, based on my client’s needs and goals. I like that I have experience in more intuitive and holistic therapies, as well as brain science. I like to demonstrate to people that there are ways of seeing and understanding that are beyond what they are accustomed to – to broaden the possibilities of understanding and of living. I am excited about integrating more biological approaches, making sure the causes of peoples distress aren’t simply something like a sluggish thyroid, or any number of other metabolic issues. My studies in Brain Mapping and Neurofeedback provide a whole new window into a person’s mental state. Sometimes we will bring up a person’s brain map and watch it as we do our counseling, thus giving us insight into what it is we are trying to modify. And then there is always the basic inherent sense of what is going on inside – and I remind my clients and myself to come back to the inner reliable compass that helps orient us when we are challenged. As one of the 7 known basic or primary emotions – playfulness and laughter hold an important place in my pantheon. Make sure you have enough vitamin D, and enough playfulness.