Counseling

My areas of focus are the following:

Substance abuse & dependence: I have a vast amount of experience with people who abuse alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine, and heroin. In recent years, I have seen a huge increase in the amount of people abusing stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta and benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium. Most significantly, there has been an explosion in the abuse of opiate painkillers like Oxycontin, Percocet, Percodan, Vicodin, Opana and a host of other opiate derivatives.

Recovery Support: I have an extensive working knowledge of AA and NA, and I have worked with people in recovery in some kind of capacity since 1996. I can help people work on their relapse triggers, find new ways to have fun, make sense of the 12-steps, improve their relationships, make deeper spiritual connections and find greater meaning in their recovery & their life.

Adolescents: I’ve worked with teenagers for over ten years, and have seen them in a high school setting, college setting, in-patient treatment and outpatient treatment. I am willing to do family counseling for this population, as I ran adult family groups for 2.5 years and adolescent family groups for 5 years.

Education: I am a certified school social worker, high school English teacher and high school social studies teacher. I taught English at Elizabeth High School for three years. I have taught professional seminars at the Center of Alcohol Studies, three different courses at Essex County College and I currently teach three courses at Rutgers University: Intro to Social Work, Social Work Integrated Seminar and Advanced Health Communication. Because of my wide teaching experience, I am uniquely skilled in helping young people overcome road blocks in their education, pick a college, pick a major, pick a graduate program and prepare for the professional world.

Criminal Justice: I have worked with people in jail, on parole, on probation, from Drug Court, from DYFS and with people who have just recently been arrested. I can write evaluations for lawyers and the court, as well as make recommendations for further treatment. Lawyers and judges tend to assign a great weight to my reports – which is because I am extremely thorough and will not understate the problem.

Military: I served in the United States Army and NJ National Guard from 1996 to 2004. I have treated soldiers and veterans in the following settings: in-patient treatment, outpatient treatment, at Rutgers and in my private practice. I can help veterans access county and state services, as well as help them transition to civilian life. Veterans tend to prefer to talk to someone who has experienced military culture themselves. In 2014, I rejoined the US Army as a Behavioral Science Officer. I deployed to Poland in 2019.

Grief and Loss: I’ve been counseling people over the death (or imminent death) of loved ones. I have extensive professional and personal experience in this area, and have written about it at length.

Referrals: There are many problems that I am not skilled in treating, especially eating disorders, couples counseling and self-mutilation. There are a number of professionals and programs that I am comfortable with referring to help clients better deal with those issues. I have a short list of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers that have my full confidence

I am a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with an emphasis on the behavioral aspect.

I usually address issues in the following order:

  1. Current crisis
  2. Negative Behaviors
  3. Strengthening positive behaviors
  4. Improving verbal communication skills
  5. Working on improving positive relationships and getting out of negative ones
  6. Finding new ways to have fun
  7. Identifying emotions; recognizing when emotional outbursts are coming
  8. Identifying irrational thoughts
  9. Working on long-term educational and work-related goals
  10. How to help others

The first 5 sessions often look like this:

I conduct a detailed exploration into the client’s family, school, work, social, medical, legal, psychiatric, and substance histories. I identify the immediate crisis (crises) and help the client begin to develop a behavioral plan that will stop the proverbial bleeding

I assign homework. I have some clients gather data on themselves (sleeping log, substance habits, outbursts of anger, when it happened, and what the antecedents and consequences were). Other clients are asked to gather feedback from others (sometimes family members, sometimes peers or supervisors). Clients may be asked to read an article or book or check out a few websites. We will continue to work on the behavioral plan by talking through & working around obstacles that have been in the way or newly appear. I help clients locate resources and activities that will support them (12-step meetings, division of vocational rehabilitation, social services, colleges, sports clubs, tutoring services).