My Path to Becoming a Therapist
Psychotherapy has always seemed like important and fascinating work to me. Even as an adolescent, I thought it was pretty cool that therapists helped people by understanding and connecting to them. I followed this passion through undergraduate studies and straight into graduate school for clinical psychology. In the years since, I have added to this academic training with life experience that informs my work as a therapist in equal measure.
If we end up working together, I prefer to ask, “what have you been through?” rather than “what’s wrong with you?”. In my experience as a psychotherapy client, I have found that feeling non-judgmentally understood is helpful and feeling like there’s something wrong with how I experience the world is not. Problems with anxiety, depression, and trauma do not just spring up from within – there were events and/or relationships that contributed. Your suffering often reflects how you had to cope with such overwhelming or depriving situations during your life.
Once, you feel like someone you trust grasps and empathizes with your experience, a lot of – good – things may start to happen:
- Making use of – instead of doubting – your own reactions
- Recognizing your strengths and believably giving yourself credit for them
- Expressing a wider range of emotions, because it now feels safe to do so
- Experiencing more joy and meaning in your work and relationships
- Relying on people instead of substances to feel better.
I have been fortunate to witness these changes in my clients and experience them firsthand through my own course of psychotherapy. Having the academic knowledge of how therapy is supposed to work along with the experience of what it’s like to be a client allows me to trust in the process of therapy. I hope that if we work together, you will experience a similar sense of hopefulness about what therapy can do for you.
My training and experience in psychotherapy theory and techniques emphasize how important it is for clients to feel safe and understood in the room. I have worked with clients of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds struggling with a wide range of problems – from addiction to pervasive anxiety to crippling depression to PTSD.
Getting to Know Me
I have always been a bit of psychotherapy ‘geek’. I love this profession. Sometimes people will ask me if I get tired of listening to people’s problems all day and I am always surprised by this question. I consider it a great privilege to learn the stories of people who come to my office and to be able to helpfully connect with what they are going through. I am usually reading several psychology books or academic journal articles at any given time and have a laundry list of therapy-related projects or activities that I am pursuing. I feel so lucky to be able to spend my time talking with colleagues, conducting research, and thinking deeply about the best way to help others relieve their psychological pain.
When I’m not in work mode, I am spending time with the people I care about. This usually means cooking, mountain biking, or watching the NFL (Fly Eagles Fly!) together.
University of Pennsylvania 1999 – B.A. Psychology, Magna Cum Laude
Pennsylvania State University 2004 – M.S. Clinical Psychology
October – December 2019 . Control-Mastery Theory for Beginning Clinicians: From Conceptualization to Invervention. Course was taught to Doctoral Students in Adult Psychotherapy Training Psychology Internship Program in the Department of Psychiatry at California Pacific Medical Center.
June 2017. Differentiating Protection vs Autonomy tests in Control Mastery Theory. Taught to Doctoral Students in the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group Internship Program.
March 2020. Corrective emotional experiences in therapy for survivors of childhood narcissistic abuse. San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group Annual Conference.
International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology
Self Psychology and Relational Psychoanalytic Colloquium
San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group – Control Mastery
International Association for Psychoanalytic Self PsychologyInternational Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
American Psychological Association, Division 39 – Psychoanalysis
California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC)
Jay is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).