I began practicing psychotherapy in 1986, after finishing an MSW at the University of Toronto and a year of psychotherapy internship at the Toronto Institute of Human Relations. I continued as an intern at TIHR for two more years, and returned to TIHR to work as a Director of Training from 1989 until 1996.
During those years I also worked as a clinical social worker with the Toronto Salvation Army Family Services, where I met many consumer/survivors of the mental health system. I learned from them how to listen with empathy and respect to terribly difficult life stories. I saw how this careful kind of listening can calm acute symptoms of anxiety and foster inner strength, even when the wounds of abuse and neglect run very deep.
I have been in full-time private practice since 1996, working primarily with adult individuals. I am a general practitioner of psychotherapy, providing both short-term and long-term treatment for a wide variety of presenting problems and issues. In the last few years, I have been contacted by more and more people who see themselves in what I have written about relational trauma and chronic shame. It's an honour to accompany these courageous clients as they work through such complex, painful issues, and it's a joy to see them discover more rewarding ways of being with themselves and with others.
The hallmark of my work, constant across the modalities of my practice, is that I do my best to understand my clients in terms of their own experience. I offer my genuine presence and empathy as we undertake a collaborative process that's based on their agenda, not mine.
In 1992, I was part of a group of therapists who founded the Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy (www.tirp.ca). I have retired from teaching, but I continue to supervise psychotherapists and clinical social workers in the community. In 2000, I completed a PhD in Philosophy of Education from the University of Toronto. I’ve written two books, one called Relational Psychotherapy: A Primer (2003, 2015). The second book is called Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach ( 2015). A second edition, under the title Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: Healing Right Brain Relational Trauma (2022), expands to consider issues of societal oppression, trauma, and polarization from the perspective of deeply rooted and disavowed societal shame. It also offers a new chapter that focuses directly on clinical diagnosis and treatment of specific forms of chronic shame.
Because I believe that therapists must know themselves well in order to practice well, I have spent many years in my own personal psychotherapy, which has also been its own reward. Because I believe that therapists should not practice in isolation, I seek consultation regularly.
As a Registered Psychotherapist, I am a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (crpo.ca). As a Registered Social Worker, I am a member of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (ocswssw.org). With these memberships, I embrace my commitment to two complementary sets of professional Codes of Ethics, professional Standards of Practice, and professional Complaints and Discipline processes.