My Background

Becoming a Psychotherapist

I understand first-hand what it can mean to undertake psychotherapy for the first time.  I went for treatment as a young adult only because I was desperate and concluded I had no other choice.  Despite being very unhappy at the time, I took pride in considering myself to be competent, resourceful, vigorous, and self-reliant.  I dreaded acknowledging that my life was not as it should be and exposing myself to the scrutiny of a stranger who, as I saw it at the time, was an expert in dissecting personal weaknesses.  I felt that taking this step only confirmed to me that I was defective. 
 
Fortunately, I have found myself in the care of unusually good therapists who knew that psychological problems are complex and took the time to understand mine.  I discovered there was far more to me, both positive and negative, than I had imagined.  Occasionally, I found the process to be painful, but mostly it was liberating and life-expanding.  In time, I came to realize I wanted to help people grow in important ways that I knew were possible through psychotherapy.
 Academic Training 

I left my first career in national health care policy to attend graduate school in psychology at the University of South Carolina.  There, I received extensive training in cognitive behavioral therapy.  I believe this theory is important, and it informs my clinical practice every day.  Addressing clients' faulty assumptions and managing clients' symptoms are essential aspects of treatment that can bring immediate relief from emotional pain.  But, by themselves, these methods do not sufficiently improve the way a person naturally feels or responds, which is the heart of the problem.  From clinical experience I learned that we can do more than manage our self-limiting perceptions and automatic responses; they can be fundamentally reorganized by strengthening a person's core sense of themselves.  This approach has the advantage of minimizing a person's need to rely always on deliberate coping maneuvers to maintain emotional equilibrium.  This conviction led me to pursue post-doctoral training in contemporary exploratory psychotherapies, and I have been studying and applying treatment from these perspectives ever since.
Work in Public & Private Settings

After completing my graduate training I worked for seven years as a psychotherapist at a community mental health center in Southeast Washington, DC.  My work in that clinic with African American clients affirmed my belief that for all of our obvious differences from each other in terms of race, gender, income, social status, cultural identity, and life experiences, we actually are more alike than different; we are able to connect emotionally with one another when there is sufficient desire to understand and a willingness to be affected by our encounters with each other.  I have been in private practice for the past 17 years, first in Washington, DC, and Falls Church, VA, and now in Silver Spring, MD.  I have always preferred treating a broad range of problems, from the least to the most severe, in people of all ages. 
 
Further Training & Professional Development         
 
An immense reward of working in my field is that there is much to learn that is important and fascinating to me.  For the past 25 years I have devoted a substantial portion of my work-week (3-5 hours) to in-depth psychotherapy training programs and weekly clinical meetings with paid consultants and study groups of peers.  The Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (ICP&P) has been my professional home since its inception 21 years ago.  I completed a three-year psychotherapy training program there.  I have since participated in two additional year-long training institutes at this organization, and I served on the executive board of the organization.  I currently supervise and teach other therapists in the ICP&P psychotherapy training program.  Prior to that I completed a year-long course at the Washington Society of Psychoanalytic Psychology, and I was director of continuing education for that group.  Not long ago, for several years I taught self psychology in a psychotherapy training program at a third local institution, the Washington School of Psychiatry.