Originally from Detroit I spent my early years navigating the well-ordered halls of Catholic schools and much less orderly streets of Detroit. With the city in decline I knew I needed to leave and set off to Michigan State University after high school. The tumultuous 1960s were another challenge but I persevered and eventually received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Science. Married and very goal oriented by this time. I received a full fellowship to Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health (now the Bloomberg School of Public Health).
My graduate study at Hopkins was focused on planning and implementing substance use treatment programs. While in school, I worked psychiatric emergency in the Johns Hopkins Hospital ER where my job was to place patients in suitable addictions treatment settings. Working weekend evenings in an inner-city psych emergency setting was an education of its own. In addition I studied and worked with criminal justice, hospital, and government bodies to evaluate and address the needs for substance abuse treatment as a public health concern. I was grateful for the experience where I was mentored by a highly skilled, experienced, and educated set of mentors.
Later I worked in Central Illinois as coordinator of the Central Illinois Alcoholism Program providing a study for implementation of comprehensive alcoholism services in a four-county sub-region.
I took a hiatus from mental health work for some years where I explored my artistic interests in music, visual arts, and writing. I’ve published more than 100 articles and interviews and been in a number of juried photography shows in fine art galleries. My explorations also led me to hang around the University of Michigan Dance Department to learn something of movement. I even played music for a few years. Later in life, a good friend and respected author asked me what psychology and art have done for me and I surprised myself with the spontaneous, but very true response “Psychology informed me, but art healed me.”
Back to my mental health work in the late 1980s I found a balance with the two sides of my nature and worked at St. David’s Hospital in Austin as the lead therapist in their eating disorders program. As part-time adjunct professor at Austin Community College. I taught counseling, criminal justice, and paramedic students about substance use disorders, emotional intelligence, crisis intervention, and other topics.
The early 1990s brought me to the Austin Men’s Center where I soon became director. Since that time, I’ve focused on substance use disorders, men’s issues (and yes, I still work with women) and of course, have kept my art alive with writing and photography.
Regarding my treatment philosophy, I have been extremely fortunate over the years to be exposed to a wide variety of protocols and practices. I’ve studied with a number of therapists and even some national figures. I’ve come to see each person I work with as a unique set of concerns and don’t have a single therapeutic box I put everyone in. For some people, cognitive-behavioral work suits their needs where others may need a more Jungian approach. And when it comes to substance use disorders and recovery programs, I make a wide variety of recommendations. Again, for some, participation in 12-step work is crucial. For others a program like Smart Recovery may fit well. Others may find church, or a men’s group, or yoga to be what they need to move forward. Healing requires attention to the individual and their specific strengths, weaknesses, and abilities to thrive.
My goal when someone comes in for counseling is to identify the real issue within the troubling behaviors or moods and work together to find a way forward towards a more sustainable and satisfying lifestyle.