Therapy with Joe
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is a personal journey in discovering how one can become more like their best self. It’s a path towards peace, non-self-judgment, and the building of better relationships. It can provide a number of benefits that can be uniquely useful to every individual:
1: Finding deeper meaning to life and the issues you struggle with or for
2: The building of emotional insight to develop one’s constitution and communication
3: Learning new skills and tools to practically manage the hardships of life, helping you stay on course within your journey (or even supporting you when you feel the desire to take a detour!).
When therapy ends, your better-self journey continues with you feeling more present and prepared.
Please share 2-3 anonymized examples of how the work can play out and/or look in the room so that I can form a visual or narrative of what to expect.
Example 1: A client comes in after losing their father and their long term partner. The challenges of grief and loss are overwhelming, personal, and spiraling. Answers are wanted, anger and depression are at the forefront of the Client’s mind. There is often very little anyone can say or do to make this journey through grief and loss any easier or less arduous. Therapy however, helps the Client be truly listened to. It provides them a space to safely let out every last thought and emotion that is tangled up inside. No one will ever experience this same journey, but that doesn't mean you have to do it alone.
Example 2: After life transition from college into the workforce anxiety can set in for a Client, exacerbated by a history of family dysfunction, self-doubt, and having the pressures of unrealistic expectations placed upon them. This has even lead to instances of panic and fear, finding themself unable to leave home after being triggered into panic attacks when riding the subway. Things become confusing and feel hopeless. How can I get a job if I can’t even ride the subway or get through an interview? Finding themself in the therapy room, the Client learns how to sit with their anxiety and panic, keep it from overwhelming them, and utilize practical skills on managing its intensity through thought exercises, mindfulness, and developing a truer sense of self-determination and self-belief.
Examples of thought exercises include cognitive behavioral therapy and learning how to challenge irrational anxious thoughts successfully. Clients can learn alternative ways to perceive anxiety provoking experiences. Mindfulness is a scientifically proven and effective way to learn how to not judge one’s self for experiencing anxiety, preventing it from transforming into panic. It becomes a skill-set that helps one stay in the present moment rather than get overwhelmed by an anxiety-ridden unforeseeable future. Through these skills, clients become more comfortable with the “good” type of anxiety which helps push themselves forward and challenge themselves without becoming overwhelmed. They begin to believe in their own strengths and can better direct themselves towards their goals.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
Carl Rogers Person-Centered Therapy (That the path to one’s best self and self-actualization lies within genuineness, empathetic understanding, and unconditional positive regard)
Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy based upon existentialism and the Will to Meaning by philosopher Kierkegaard
Fritz Perls Gestalt Therapy based upon the psychological research of Max Wertheimer and the belief that “The whole is different than the sum of its parts”
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
Being a person centered therapist, genuineness is of utmost importance. If I feel that sharing and self-disclosing parts of my life will not be harmful to the therapeutic relationship, I openly share experiences, events, and ideas that I have personally come across in my own life journey.
How participatory are you during sessions?
As much as you need me to be, until I see you working less than me in your therapy. The therapeutic journey is difficult, and sometimes one needs to sit still, listen and be open. But then there are times to stand up and start walking, or even climb up a steep mountain. I will meet you where you are.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
Only if you’d like. Work is mostly done in the therapy room. Outside the therapy room I find that self-reflection and practicing what you have learned in therapy in your own way is more productive than assigned tasks.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
By nature, I don’t have a personal stake in the issues you bring into therapy. That does not mean however, that I will not empathize, support, and walk with you on your journey. The objectivity that I can bring to the issues you present with may help you feel less judged (positively or negatively). Our relationship is only within the the context of therapy and you finding ways to better yourself. I don’t expect things in return and I don’t engage in activities with Clients that go beyond the therapeutic experience.
Is there ever a time when you would encourage me to leave or graduate? Or how do I know when it’s time to end or move on, or time to stay and explore more?
Absolutely, and that is the greatest part of therapy! Knowing exactly when this time is becomes a discussion within therapy where both you and I can see that you are well equipped to continue your self-discovery journey on your own, or even with new supports. When this time is can be different for each individual Client, and is ultimately determined by you.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
I have done internships in Southern California school systems working therapeutically with children and adolescents. My post-doc experience transitioned into my first practice working with older adults in physical rehabilitation centers, adult homes and nursing centers. Most of my experience within these settings included working with underserved populations. I then began my private practice in Forest Hills, Queens New York and have slowly begun to expand into Manhattan where I treat older adolescents and adults.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I have specifically been trained in forensic psychology although most of my practice is clinically-based. I additionally continue engaging in trainings to maintain my expertise in a variety of treatments and interventions including art therapy, pain management, and mindfulness.
Do you have experience (5-10 years+) working with any types of obstacles or people in particular?
I have had specific long term experience working with older adults aged 60+ for over 5 years in long term care nursing home settings. I believe this has greatly shaped my strengths in working with Clients of all ages who are experiencing grief and loss.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
Uncertainty, compassion, and openness. Uncertainty over my own struggles and differences with the medical model and straying further away from a pre-med education. Finding myself compassionate in wanting to assist those in under-served populations, especially those with little to no resources. Learning how being open to beliefs and experiences greater than my own could be especially helpful to others.
What is the best part of the work for you?
I enjoy the moments when clients feel emotionally accomplished in making best decisions for themselves.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues’?
I incorporate mindfulness as well as on-the-spot mental exercises into my practice that can sometimes help a Client view their issues from different perspectives. Sometimes this is channeled through art therapy, music therapy, writing therapy or journaling, or deep breathing training and mindfulness.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I listen carefully to an individual’s experience shaped by their diversity. At other times I may bring this difference into therapeutic discussion. Ignoring the diversity between myself and my Client would be a disservice. Discussing how a Client’s reality is so personal to their culture, ethnicity, gender, or sexual identity becomes essential for me to understand them as a whole human being.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
Changes in behaviors, healthier patterns of speech or thought, and improvements in symptoms can all be indicators that therapy is working. But I best know when I ask you directly!
How can you tell if I am feeling stuck, unseen, or unheard?
When I notice a Client turn to caution or frustration within the therapy room in direct response to something I have or have not said, these are good indicators of this. However, I have conversations towards the beginning of therapy that ask you to please let me know if you do feel these ways at any point so that I can address them and reconsider how I am approaching an issue.
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
Depending on the presenting issues and symptoms (if any) I usually recommend starting out with weekly sessions and transitioning into every other week sessions. I have limited space for maintenance monthly catch ups, but do offer these if it continues to benefit the Client.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
There is a short intake form to fill out prior once you join my online portal where I keep my progress notes, we can correspond privately and securely, and you can pay any balances of services.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Your openness to new things.
“Dr. Joe helped me get through one of the toughest years of my life. His easy going demeanor made me feel comfortable talking about anything; it was more like cultivating my best internal life with a good peer than with some sort of distant authority figure. I can’t say enough good things and I’m so thankful I was able to work with him this year!” —L.K.