I have been interested in psychology since I was about 10 years old. My dad was a psychoanalyst in New York City and his office was in our house. I saw his patients every day and was curious about what he did with them once they went into the office. It seemed like a mystery that people were being helped just by lying on a couch and talking.
As we grew up, my sister and I both took a strong interest in psychology and have both become clinical psychologists. So you might say, it was “all in the family”. However, the idea of talking to someone one-on-one about their relationships with people who weren’t in the room, struck me as kind of strange.
Once in graduate school at the University of Rhode Island back in the early ’70s, I learned about something called Family Therapy where you saw the whole family at once. Then, instead of talking to someone about someone else, you could have the people talk to each other right in front of you. That made a lot more sense to me and turned out to be a lot more fun. And besides, it was exciting to do something so different from what my sister and father did.
In 1984, I began teaching Family Dynamics, Couples Therapy and Group Dynamics at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where I soon became a member of the Core Faculty. In my Family Dynamics class, the students brought in their families of origin and I worked with them doing family therapy right there in the classroom. We continued to do this with powerful results that cannot be called anything but transformational. In the couples class, students brought in their partners for an in-class session as well. In the Group Dynamics class, students would learn interactive skills, while getting feedback from their peers. I left C.I.I.S. in 2015, and am now Professor Emerita. It was an honor to be able to teach students my unique approach to family, couples and group psychotherapy. This is clearly my life's work.
In 1980 I began my private practice in Berkeley, seeing mostly couples and families, and facilitating groups which I labeled, Interpersonal Therapy Groups. Group Therapy is very near and dear to my heart. It is so satisfying to see strangers begin to connect and develop their own "family”, often a healthier one than the one they had growing up.
More recently, I have been studying psychodynamic psychotherapy, and am happy to have added individual psychotherapy to my client population. I often find that bringing in a client's family for a few sessions, is a wonderful adjunct to individual work.