I was a researcher before I became a clinician, an educational and work track that turned me into an investigator of my patient’s life through a thorough, dynamic, detailed experiential life study of each person I treated. It was my belief that a good researcher had the mindset needed for the complexity of human behavior. It starts with hypotheses and then data collection that proves one hypothesis over another. Good clinical work is exactly that way. Diagnosis is the outcome of data collection on therapy sessions that builds a case for what’s really ailing the individual sitting in front of me.
My dissertation studied the wellbeing of older adults, with my driving thirst for the answer to this question: What makes people at the end of their lifespan happy? Being a life span developmental psychologist I chose relationships, both family and friends, to explain the phenomena of being satisfied with the life one has lived. Was it a great marriage? A great friend? Family Support? These answers were explored with social network research which I used on my dissertation project. 3,000 lines of data and 206 variables later, the answer to this mystery is: Friendship is related to psychological wellbeing in later life, not family relationships, primarily because your best friend loves you for who are. In fact, I learned from happily married older adults (N= 49 couples) that they had married their best friend.
Before my clinical life started in1991 when I passed the State Boards and awarded my license as a “Psychologist”, I worked for New York State DDSO for eight years conducting psychological testing and training of residential staff for a population of mentally deficit adults, and then in 1987. The Department of Education which grants licenses accepted this supervised work by the Director of the DDSO to be used as one year of supervised training toward the license. I continued to conduct research as a tenure track Assistant Professor at Utica College of Syracuse University. The board accepted one year of teaching for the two year requirement of supervised training needed for the State Psychology examination. It was the experience of working with brain damaged individuals that qualified me to refer myself as a neuropsychologist which at the time was not an established expertise.
Psychological Services Center was opened in 1992 on 87 Genesee Street in New Hartford, New York. I was its Director and practiced there for twelve years. It was in Central New York that my clinical work was enriched by working with a wide range of people, from the Department of Social Services, and lawyers’ clients challenged by divorce, custody of a child, mental illness of one partner, etc., to the private clients from all walks of life. My secretary, Judy Cater, was an integral part of the clinic’s success with her kind, gentle, empathic overtures to everyone that walked into the waiting. Organized and hardworking, she was the reason that the practice grew exponentially, being booked out two months, blessing me with human beings who sought me out for help that also helped me to learn more about the sufferings of others which, in turn, made me a better doctor.
In 2002 I moved to Los Angeles, becoming licensed in California and growing in other ways. I ultimately accumulated 400 hours of psychopharmacological studies which included the medical courses, like biochemistry, how drugs affect the brain and nervous system. This education and training was expanded by collaborations with psychiatrists, with one of whom I had the pleasure of setting up an office on 9911 West Pico Boulevard that provided both by psychiatric and psychological services. As I give a synopsis of who I’d become, I say, “one foot in medicine and one foot in psychology”.
It was in Brooklyn Psychological Services (BPS) in Brooklyn Heights, New York - the only Medical Arts building in the area that the referrals were a complex of cases which I had to assign to interns or therapists based on their past training and experience. In this clinic I became the director of forensic and psychological services with a staff of therapists, including Ph.D. graduates engaging in supervised mental health services to sit for their State boards. During 2010 to 2015 I obtained referrals from neurologists and personal injury attorneys requesting neuropsychological exams, refining the scope of my practice for the medical and legal communities, and thus the type of analyses required to answer their questions. Enriching the therapeutic orientations of the practice, BPS was very successful. The therapists offered services based on their degrees, like, Marriage and Family Therapists, Mental Health Therapists, and clinical psychology interns.
The diversity of my practices in Upstate New York and then in New York City continued to expand my specialties which today are: forensic examiner, neuropsychologist, child and family, developmental delays, substance abuse, disabling forms of anxiety and depression, including trauma and PTSD, thought disorder, marital conflict, sexual abuse, monitoring medical outcome for my psychiatric colleagues at the Long Island College Hospital at which I was designated as an Allied Medical staff.