My History

Like every person, I have made many changes over the course of my professional life.

Most recently, my husband and I have moved from Bethesda and Chevy Chase, MD to the Philadelphia area (Bala Cynwyd) primarily to be closer to our adult children who live in Wilmington and Brooklyn, and also close to dear friends who live here. We’ve always liked Philly and, after the stress of moving, we’re very happy to be here. With some sadness, I closed my practice in MD, but continue by phone with some psychotherapy and coaching clients as well as some consultations.

As I made this transition from Maryland to Pennsylvania, I can see how much I’ve learned as I make life transitions.

I started my professional life as a sixth grade teacher. It wasn’t a good fit: I didn’t know myself very well–I didn’t like it and wasn’t good at it. The next year I went to graduate school in Social Work and did community organizing, working with groups and individuals, and including, after graduation, running a community-based field placement for Washington University. I liked that kind of work.

About this time I had a serious illness that triggered my interest in health care. I got a doctorate in public health that I don’t use. Going into the doctoral program I had not focused on what this doctorate equipped me for: doing statistics-based research or being an administrator. Again, I wasn’t good at either, nor did I enjoy either.

But . . that gave me the credential to teach in graduate programs which I did and do like. Soon after I started teaching, I spent two months in San Diego getting intensive clinical training with Erv and Miriam Polster in Gestalt Therapy which I also like a great deal.

I began teaching graduate and undergraduate social work and nursing students and developed a practice initially working with individuals with chronic and stress-related illnesses. This started as a personal interest (because of my illness) that led me to delve into it professionally.

I was married by this time, had kids—adopted, and as I tried to be the best parent I could, I read, attended groups with other parents, attended workshops and seminars, and got more intensive training, adding adoption to my practice—working with adoptive parents and adult adoptees–again, my personal interest leading to professional delving. This included co-editing a book: Once They Hear My Name: Korean-American Adoptees and their Journeys to Identity with Ellen Lee and Mary Ann Hess (2008).

In the late 90’s when I developed another chronic illness and as I tried to understand the meaning illness had in my life, I intensified my exploration into various spiritual paths and spent four weekends a year for four years studying Integrated Kabbalistic Healing, a path the integrates Jewish mysticism (the kabbalah), Buddhism and Western psychology. I learned from this experience—both professionally and personally.

A few years later I became interested in coaching and the training I took just happened to have a positive psychology bent, about which I always felt negatively–I was raised with a lot of Pollyanna talk and was pretty suspicious of it.

However, in part because of my personal background and also my experience as a therapist, I’d been vaguely dissatisfied for a long time at the focus on pathology/what’s wrong with clients. As I worked with positive psychology a bit, realizing it fit with a Gestalt framework and with other things I had been learning—I began to think it about it differently.

Being authentic and real, feeling connected to people, and constantly learning–these are most important to me.
Others confirm these are true about me.

I try my best to be non-judgmental and compassionate.
I am persistent and curious, a tough-love kind of person.
I VALUE: wisdom, truth, compassion, clarity, knowledge, curiosity.

I Believe These Things ...
  • There is great wisdom in each of us.
  • Knowing ourselves opens new possibilities.
  • Difficult experiences always contain opportunities if we’re open.
  • Our professional and personal experiences inform each other.
  • We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose our attitude toward what happens, which opens up possibilities.
  • When we connect, something new emerges which is greater than the sum of myself and the individual or group I’m working with.
  • There’s a time to fight for something and a time to surrender and let go.
  • Whether it’s a dyad of therapist & client, coach & client, teacher & students, we each know things the other doesn’t—the relationship or partnership is greater than the sum of the parts