When Gabbie Newman talks about her journey to becoming a therapist, she is certain about the moment she realized that being a clinical social worker was for her. Her a-ha moment came in an undergraduate human services class at Elon University, when her professor Sandra Reid was talking about what the field of psychology calls the biopsychosocial model. Contrary to the biomedical model (which focuses only on a client’s biological makeup), the biopsychosocial model considers a person’s biological (genetics, biochemistry, neurobiology), psychological (personality, behavior), and social (community, family, culture) conditions when assessing their circumstances.
“Approaching a person with that holistic model -- that really hit home,” Gabbie says. “There’s so much involved in a person’s day-to-day.”
When Gabbie learned that social workers use the biopsychosocial model as the cornerstone of their practice, she had decided her future career path. After graduating from Elon, she enrolled in New York University’s Masters of Social Work program.
During her training, Gabbie's field placements (sort of like internships in the Master's in Social Work space) took her from an inpatient psychiatric crisis center in a hospital, focusing on providing acute care to her patients, to an outpatient eating disorder treatment center. Through seeing a variety of clients with different needs, Gabbie developed the belief that anybody can benefit from counseling.
“We’re all trying to grow every day," Gabbie says, "adapting to whatever that day brings us."
Today, Gabbie works in her own private practice, where most of her clients are in their mid-twenties, and works part-time at an early childhood nursery school.
The contrast might strike some as unusual, but Gabbie loves the balance and perspective her two jobs provide her. She enjoys working with kids as they’re starting their lives and working with adults often in the midst of life transitions.
She finds her clients asking, "What do I want my life to look like? What do I want to do with my life?"
Clients come to Gabbie with concerns about dating, work, and friendships. “There's a growing sense of anxiety across that age group," Gabbie says, "and they’re looking for someone to say, ‘It’s okay to be frustrated.’”
Gabbie doesn’t claim to know what’s going on in her clients’ heads, but she doesn’t need to -- it's their perceptions and the way they’re feeling about their thoughts that matters most for her clinical work with them. She often finds herself working with these clients on growing their comfort zones, to seek what she calls the “challenge that feels like it’s doing something for you.”
Noticing that they often worry about how others are seeing them, Gabbie supports her clients as they seek validation from themselves.
“We’re all just trying to understand who we are in the greater scheme of things,” she reflects.
Her style is warm and genuine, backed up by evidence-based research and a lot of her own experience. For example, Gabbie recently led a workshop called Table Talk, where she spoke to her students’ parents about how to talk to their children about meals and body image, using insight from training in the outpatient eating disorder program to inform her work.
Gabbie is passionate about providing parents tools they can take into their later years, by teaching them how to neutralize language around body size and appetite early on. “No one has the exact manual for your exact child,” she says, and she emphasizes preparing parents to have these potentially uncomfortable conversations earlier than they might have expected.
If it sounds like Gabbie has a wide range of specialties as a therapist, that’s because she does -- and she’s always looking to learn more, and seeking new opportunities to make therapy beneficial to her clients.
Gabbie has recently begun working with the mind/body connection through walk & talk therapy, and offers tele-sessions over a secure video messaging platform to clients who prefer it for comfort or convenience. Her practice specialities also include corporate wellness and sports performance.
When the conversation turns to her own self-care, Gabbie is adamant about taking care of her own needs. She often takes time in between sessions to take a walk.
“If my head is still in the previous session, I can’t give my next client the space they need,” she explains.
She is also a trained yoga teacher, and incorporates certain movements and yoga flows into her therapy practice.
When I asked who she looks up to, Gabbie didn't hesitate: she has enormous respect for her supervisor, Rachel Stein who, in Gabbie’s words, “approaches therapy in such a true-to-herself way.” Rachel’s style -- natural, comfortable, authentic -- and her constant quest to take advantage of any workshop or training that comes her way helps Gabbie, in turn, grow as a clinician.
Gabbie exudes sincerity. It’s easy to believe her when she talks about her favorite part of being a therapist: “It’s a selfish part, but I don’t think there’s anything more amazing and gratifying than being invited to hear someone’s story.”
Thank you, Gabbie, for sharing your story with us. We are grateful to work with you and look forward to others growing from and with your genuine care.
If you'd like to explore working with Gabbie, please visit her calendar to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, or reach out by phone (914 996 6120) or email ([email protected]). You can also learn more by visiting her website.
Stay tuned to meet more therapists we work with at My Wellbeing in the weeks to come. Questions, comments, or feedback? We'd love to hear from you. Reach our team any time at [email protected].
At My Wellbeing, 100s of individuals have shared with us quite how hard it is to find a therapist in NYC, especially on your own. We share monthly interviews with some of the therapists we work with to help you better understand therapy and learn more about how diverse therapists can be. Perhaps you will stumble upon the right fit for you.
Last month, we talked with Gabbie Newman about her path toward private practice and her philosophies around healing. Gabbie describes therapy as “an opportunity to explore the patterns in your life, the choices you make, [and] the role you have in the world.”