Becoming a therapist was not a choice, but a calling I didn’t allow myself to hear in the beginning.
Born into this world an introvert with an “old soul” persona, at least that’s how I recall it. I spent most of my early day’s people watching, mostly because I was a baby and had no choice, but later on, it turned into a true curiosity about how and why people think and act the way they do. I was fascinated by the world around me and had a heightened sense of emotional acuity. I could read peoples body language, gauge shifts in tones and inflections in a conversation, and feel the emotional states of the people around me.
At the time I didn’t know it, but I was gifted with an ability to connect and empathize with people in a deep and meaningful way. The challenge was that I didn’t know how to harness, what my wife now calls, my “superpowers” and use them effectively.
Did you ever learn to harness your “superpowers”?
Yes. But it took me some time. In college, I majored in Biology with a concentration on biopsychology. I became fascinated with how the mind and body worked in unison to create what we think, how we feel, and ultimately who we are. I not only wanted to understand the human psyche, but I wanted to know the mechanism that took place in the human body to create them. The program sharpened my senses, enhanced critical thinking skills, instilled a non-judgmental approach to understanding people, and provided me with a biological lens for viewing the world. The challenge was that I found myself spending a lot of time in the research lab talking with “mice”. It was intellectually stimulating, but socially I was isolated. It became clear that the life of a researcher was not for me. I was craving human contact and was ready to move in a new direction.
A friend told me I would be a great teacher, and I believed her.
After college, I became a High School Biology Teacher. I loved teaching, interacting with the students, and Biology. I wanted to create a teaching experience where students felt heard, understood, and empowered to succeed academically and personally. I believed I was going to inspire the youth of America to see the beauty that life has to offer through the lens of Biology. I was going to change the world. Then I started teaching and quickly realized that students were more distracted and occupied by life issues rather than the wonders of cell division, biochemistry, or my favorite word – Apoptosis. I was bummed. Although I had human contact and loved the art of teaching, I was unfulfilled with what I was doing.
Are you telling me you gave up having summers off?
I try not to remember that part of the story. This unfulfilled feeling sent me on a journey toward self-discovery and exploration. I met a therapist, who guided me into the depths of my mind and body to untangle, express, and rewire my system. I experienced what it was like to lean into discomfort and navigate my way through the complexities of my own mind and body. It wasn’t long after my deep feeling work that my path became clear. I wanted to “people watch” again.
Once I knew what I wanted, I left the path of teaching to obtain a master’s degree in mental health counseling, and ultimately get licensed as a counselor. I soon began working as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at a private practice in lower Manhattan. Here is where I received extensive training in primal therapy and body-centered therapy.
Through my training, it became clear to me that talking alone in therapy is limiting. Learning to trust the wisdom of your body and having the courage to authentically express your inner experiences with another human being is liberating in a way that cannot be explained.
This is where I learned to understand and effectively utilize my “superpowers”.
Within a few years, I expanded my practice to Northern New Jersey, and created and established Be You Counseling – a place where people are supported to speak honestly…express authentically…create consciously.
What is it about therapy that gets you excited?
Therapy is not a job, but a way of living. How I am in the therapy room is how I strive to exist in the world. Having a safe space for people to talk about real things, share their vulnerability, and establish trust with another human being is invaluable. Therapy promotes curiosity, discovery, and non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of all aspects of self. Beneath it all, we are all working to obtain essential human needs such as love, connection, certainty/uncertainty, abundance, significance, growth, and spirituality. The interesting part of this work is discovering the different strategies that people use to obtain these needs.
Why the name Be You Counseling for my business?
“Be you!” is the statement my family says to one another whenever we leave the house or part ways from one another. It is a simple statement that captures the essence of what I believe is self-love. The complexities of who we are are amazing, and constantly changing as we transition through various stages of life. It takes strength and courage to be true to you, regardless of how you were/are made to feel by others. When you are able to embrace who you are through each of these stages there is a sense of freedom, clarity, and a capacity to love and be loved that emerges.
If I asked someone to describe you what would they say?
I believe they would say that I dance to the beat of my own drum. I am compassionate, thoughtful, honest, non-judgmental, and genuine. I am not afraid to take risks if I am unhappy, and I have the ability to see beauty in things when others cannot. I have a deep capacity to love and be loved, and I am often overwhelmed with gratitude when I experience kindness or observe the beauty that the world has to offer.
In a snapshot what is life like outside the therapy room?
My family is the most important thing to me outside of work. I love being a father and a husband. I enjoy hiking, riding scooters with my kids, playing tag, developing home improvement skills, dancing with my wife, and trying new foods. A few memorable moments include:
The beautiful blue sky the day I graduated college
Discovering my favorite hiking trail called “Stairway to Heaven”
Driving cross country with my girlfriend, now wife, and dog Buster
Skydiving in Seattle
Working at the Renaissance Faire
Backpacking through Europe
Participating in a Tae Kwon Do tournament in South Korea
Getting married in the country
Delivering both my daughter and son at home
Licensed Professional Counselor, NJ: #37PC00556700
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, NY: #007087
Certified Teacher in Biological Sciences, NJ: #563008