Among the many questions you may have about psychotherapy the most important one is likely to be whether or not the person you choose will be able to help you!
The answer to this question lies as much in the comfort you feel in your therapist's presence as it does in where they went to school, which is often the first question a therapist is asked. The truth is, though training and experience are extremely important, your need to feel understood has equal weight.
How your minds work together and whether or not you feel at home are the most critical indications that you''re in the right place. You should be able to find the right combination of feeling at ease with someone and confidence in her professional maturity---it's not to much to ask for all in one person.
I've worked in private practice for most of my professional life, but started in a hospital setting. Being a sole practitioner doesn't mean I work alone, however. I'm surrounded by a team of professionals who provide services like testing, prescribing medication (the role of a psychiatrist), offering tutoring, and even performing acupuncture, depending on what's needed.
As a firm believer in beginning at the beginning, I started my training in child development at Cedars Sinai Hospital in the Early Childhood Center there. I was later happy to realize that this was the most sensible way to become the best possible therapist, for the experience of working with infants, toddlers, and their mothers taught me so much about how human beings develop into the adults they become.
One of the most important things it taught me was what it means to be attuned appropriately to another human being. Knowing how to provide this kind of attunement is not just essential for mothers but also for therapists. The growth and development. of a child is in some ways the model for the growth and development that occurs in psychotherapy.
To this day, no matter what the age of the person I'm working with, I fall back on the education and clinical experience I gained there. Working with several generations in a family was a perfect way to see and understand the human developmental life cycle, first-hand. Questions that seem to baffle others, like why do some people develop an overly dependent style of relating or have fears of abandonment, or why do others seem to thrive under the mistaken belief that they don't need to depend on anyone at all, seem much easier to understand, having watched first-hand the development of the earliest relationships.
This background melded naturally with my continuing education in analytic and object-relations theories, as this also emphasized the importance of early attachment experiences in learning how to form relationships later. My master's degree and doctorate at California Graduate Institute and clinical and academic work at the Wright Institute, Los Angeles were rounded out by a certificate from the Graduate Center in Child Development, which firmed up and grounded my work with adolescents.