Education and Training
I hold a BA in English literature and psychology from Rutgers (Honors) College, an MA in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in clinical psychology from Duquesne University.
You can read about Duquesne University's unique "human science" approach to the study of psychology here: http://www.duq.edu/academics/schools/liberal-arts/academic-programs/psychology/human-science. I've also studied philosophy, religion, gender studies, and sociology at the graduate level (at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Harvard University, and Tulane University), taught undergraduate courses in psychology and sociology, and have regularly presented my work at academic conferences over the years.
I completed a predoctoral clinical internship at the University of California, Santa Cruz's health center and a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University. After working for several years in university-based health centers (as well as inpatient and outpatient hospital settings), I started my private practice in DC in 2017.
I understand that therapy is a significant commitment in terms of time, money, and emotional resources, and my commitment is to work collaboratively and efficiently with you, without sacrificing depth and quality.
My therapeutic orientation is primarily psychodynamic, meaning that I aim to help you make what is unconscious, conscious. I can help you face what you've been avoiding, feel what you've protected yourself from feeling, and become more conscious of aspects of yourself that you are not all that well aware of - "the good, the bad, and the ugly." All of it, held with compassion and without judgment. The goal of this approach is to experience greater self-awareness, self-acceptance, freedom, and vitality. At the same time, I am also pragmatically-oriented and will help you determine what real concrete changes you can make to create a more fulfilling day-to-day life.
I have been trained to provide both longer-term psychodynamic psychotherapy and Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy. My work is ultimately eclectic, however, as I draw on wisdom from a variety of therapeutic traditions such as cognitive-behavioral, humanistic/existential, and Jungian. In the end, I aim to do what works and will tailor our work to suit your particular needs.
While at Duquesne, I wrote a dissertation focused on the value of silence and solitude to women's psychospiritual development (http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/doc/1469004539.html?FMT=ABS). Later, I deepened my research while a Visiting Scholar at the Mind & Life Institute (https://www.mindandlife.org), a research institute for contemplative sciences founded by the Dalai Lama and a Western neuroscientist. Recently, I started blogging about the topic of women and solitude through Psychology Today; you can check out my blog here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hut-her-own.
I specialize in working with two different patient populations:
Young adults (18+): I have extensive experience working with young and "emerging" adults (of all genders) through my work at university-based health clinics, including Cornell University, Tulane University, Washington College of Law, Drexel University, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. I help young adults navigate the challenges unique to their developmental stage (e.g., psychological separation from parents, career path questioning, identity-related questioning), develop healthy coping mechanisms, increase self-confidence, and alleviate distressing clinical symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression, etc.).
Women in midlife: I greatly enjoy and have significant experience helping women during midlife address symptoms of depression and anxiety, navigate relational difficulties, deepen their self-awareness, and achieve greater balance in their lives. With this population, I often address symptoms related to the "midlife transition" - a developmental stage whose significance is typically disregarded in this youth-oriented culture. The midlife transition is often accompanied by shifts in identity, a search for deeper meaning, grief and loss, decreased vitality and desire, an irritable sense of "itchiness," and existential malaise. It can be helpful to have a therapeutic space in which to process this transition in order to enter the second half of life as consciously, and indeed as well, as possible. Here is a blog post I wrote on this topic: https://drclaudiasalazar.com/midlife-transition-need-attention.