I started my career working with children in the foster care system while I was still in high school. For several years I volunteered, and then worked as a counselor, at the Queens Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. (It might be of interest to some to learn that early children’s welfare organizations such as that one were modeled after the SPCAs).
After graduating college in the mid 1970s (Empire State of SUNY) which took a long time, involved considerable travels, and was interspersed with civil rights, anti-war and feminist activism, I became deeply involved in the mental patients’ rights and radical therapy movements, eventually becoming a collective member and then the editor of the group that published the State and Mind Journal in Somerville, Massachusetts. I wrote articles, did public speaking engagements, ran support groups and wrote my first masters’ thesis (Goddard College Graduate Program in Social Change, Feminist Counseling) on the ideas of respect for differing emotional experiences, empowerment of those diagnosed with psychiatric conditions, dialogue in regards to all states of consciousness and to exposing the connections between government, economy, and our inner feelings about ourselves and how we relate to one another as people.
Since moving to San Francisco in 1980, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in the field of recreation therapy: the physically challenged, frail elderly, and those considered severely and persistently mentally ill living in board and care facilities. As supervisor of the Outreach Department at the Recreation Center for the Handicapped, now the Janet Pomeroy Center (where I still swim in their warm-water therapeutic pool), I presented workshops around California and in other states on enhancing communication skills and strength-based approaches to working with people in the fields of gerontology, death, and dying.
In the mid 1980s, my then partner, now husband, and I fostered and then adopted two special needs children from the County Child Welfare system. Given my background in child welfare and recreation, I became involved in the Foster Parents Support network and arranged outings for foster families as well as represented SF foster parents at national conferences in that field. A fierce advocate for both foster children’s and foster parents’ rights, I enrolled in SFSU Graduate Counseling program and became a licensed therapist, specializing at first in childhood trauma and its aftermath.
I worked for many years as a Mental Health Consultant to the SFUSD Child Development Centers (via the Family Service Agency of SF) and interned in the field of substance abuse, addiction and recovery, running therapeutic and educational groups for people convicted of multiple offense drunk driving (for CATS, Community Awareness & Treatment Services).
Wanting a break from bureaucracy in the late 80s, I took a break from social service and went into business as the owner and operator of a children’s store called Small Change. The store was among the first of its kind to buy and sell goods with strong consideration of the healthfulness of their content as well as the circumstances of their production and distribution. The store was a meeting place for parents’ support groups, children’s reading, arts and crafts and play activities, and distributed a newsletter I created. Small Change was active in its community and sold recycled goods on consignment to benefit local schools and other organizations.
When five years later I returned to the non-profit world, I worked for many years at the TALKLINE Family Support Center of the Child Abuse Prevention Center as a therapist and as the coordinator of a project called PACT: Parents and Children Together that served at-risk families. From there I went on to become a mental health consultant to the SF Unified School District’s Child Development Programs, sponsored by the Family Service Agency of SF. Concurrent to that, I served as a consultant to the Huckleberry Youth programs’ services to first- time juvenile offenders called CARC.
In the late 90s, I began the private practice that continues to this day in the front room of my outer Richmond District home. Although a long drive for some, my neighborhood offers fresh air, parks, ocean views and easy parking. The 38R Geary bus line stops at the corner.
For the past ten years or so, I’ve divided my time between San Francisco and West Sonoma County. It was in the latter locale that I became enchanted with the Russian River and small town life in Guerneville, CA, where I wrote for the local, now defunct, Russian River Monthly and hosted a radio show on KGGV-FM called PsychTalk.
To support my part-time life in Sonoma County, I took a job as therapist at a small group home for teenage boys. For over five years, I’ve worked at the Greenhouse Children’s Project with teens from both the social service and juvenile justice system. .
It sometimes seems ironic that even as I am now more than middle aged and diminutive in physical size, I feel a strong affinity for surly, outspoken, rebellious adolescents with whom I work hard to find constructive self- and community-serving outlets for their righteous but often misguided anger. Since May, 2012, I’ve been back in SF full-time.
One of my main life passions and commitments is animal welfare and promoting the healing bond between non-humans and young people. As the result of involving the group home teens with whom I worked in a variety of different ways with programs at the Sonoma County Humane Society and their Forget-Me-Not-Farm Children’s Services, I received a 'golden' medal, pictured left, named Lacy. My canine companion is usually present in the consulting room by client request.