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Being in Virginia, teaching for Divine Mercy University is not only an honor and privilege but reunites me with my place of birth. Southern style was to be short-lived however, as my father a restaurant and hotel manager would not return south until my teen years. Moving first to upstate New York and then to Northampton Massachusetts; I grew up in a typical Jewish family until I was 12-years-old. At age 12, my mother passed on from this life due to inoperable cancer and by age 14 my father remarried adding three new siblings to our small family. My younger brother, Seth, adjusted better than I did and by age 17, I was out on my own just before graduation from high school in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had a conversion experience in my senior year after an honest search for answers and identity. I thought at that time that my relationship with God would stabilize my life and give it focus. Instead it has been the centerpiece of an oft-times wild ride through life but always being the stabilizing force leading me to deeper understandings and a deeper walk. When I was eight-years-old in Hebrew School a Rabbi once told me to “question everything” regarding faith and spirituality. “It’s the only way you can truly know what you believe and why”. I have applied this mandate throughout my life; sometimes to the chagrin of those spiritual mentors around me but always ending up in a richer and deeper walk with God. Actually, wrestling with God is a more accurate assessment in that I often feel connected to Jacob.
After several false starts in Bible College and junior college, I was able to go straight through my Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of South Florida. Believing I was too dangerous to foist on the public at large, I enrolled in my first Doctoral program for more therapeutic training at the Gestalt Institute in Tampa and completed in 1985 after sitting on my dissertation for five years. I have since gone on to complete a specialization in Theology, three more Doctorates (Theology, Ministry, and Counseling Psychology), and have received an Honorary Doctorate in Divinity (DD). Education has been a wonderful way to expand horizons and foster understanding. I continue to educate myself but no longer search out degrees and credits. I worked in the field of counseling and ministry, coming up through the ranks of government and private agencies, hospitals, residential treatment centers, partial hospitalization programs, churches, training facilities, and private practice. I have had an extensive career in a wide variety of venues including the classroom. Teaching and clinical supervision have always been creative outlets for me and a deep source of joy and satisfaction. Working with others to understand the complexities of life and insight to self have been the privilege and honor others have allowed in sharing their journeys with me. In the last few years, research has captured my attention with most of the focus targeted at Dissociative Identity Disorder and both Christian and secular applications to healing. For the past 8 years I have been the Director for the Center for Trauma Studies at Regent University in Virginia Beach where we have trained graduate students to be first-responders in situations of natural disasters and/or man-made disasters and to work with chronic trauma such as domestic violence, sexual trauma and human trafficking. I have recently taken a position with Divine Mercy University in Arlington, VA where I will be able to continue training graduate students and the community in trauma skills and to continue outreach programs in Human Trafficking, Syrian Refugees, and Returning Veterans from War. I have and will continue to train outreach professionals and paraprofessionals skills in trauma recovery and to deploy and work with indigenous populations. Trainings for students and community participants lead to certification in various aspects of trauma which they then bring into their counseling practices and professional identity. I have been honored to be a part of the training of students and community professionals to develop skills and abilities to work with those struggling and suffering from traumatic events and situations to overcome and heal.
I believe that psychotherapy is an art from. The artist must be equipped with a variety of styles or colors to enable them to be a catalyst for positive change. As Christian therapists, the calling often means providing a way for clients (and sometimes ourselves) to be positively reconciled with God. This comes from a deep place of love and respect for those we work with and those who allow us to share in their walk and journey. My favorite scripture comes from I John 4:8 “. . . for God is Love”. I believe that we are called to learn how to love in all its many aspects and that life itself is the classroom in which to learn the lessons. Being a professor at Divine Mercy University has been a long time goal of mine. I am humbled and honored to be a part of a faculty and staff that not only embodies this idea but walks it out daily. The true fire of this staff is to convey spiritual insights and growth to assist others to assist others to do the same. There is nothing more sacred to me than this.
I also enjoy a wonderful affiliation with Life Christian Counseling Network which has opened up new dynamics for me in private practice therapy. Their cordial staff handle payments and paperwork which allows me to be able to focus on the therapeutic process. I am truly blessed to have good friends in both the group of therapists and the owners and I am pleased to be a part of this solid group of Christians who are very well trained and talented.