by Linda Viertel
How many times have any of us been through painful personal struggles or developed harmful patterns and felt that therapy might help but were too fearful to take next steps to find a therapist? It’s challenging to find the right person to talk to, to open up oneself and not feel judged, to admit to addictive behaviors or a less than satisfying sleep pattern without the benefit of medication.
Fortunately, Irvington resident Jaclyn Sirulnik, LCSW, whose collaborative and relationship-oriented approach utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), has expanded her Manhattan practice to One Bridge Street in Irvington. Having moved here from the Upper West Side in 2013, she is not only pleased to have her three boys in the Irvington school system, but she is eager to embrace community life. Earning two BA’s – one in psychology and one in criminology, plus an MA at Columbia in social work, she has been a practicing therapist for seven years. A serious student and practitioner of CBT, she trained at Dr. Aaron Beck’s (the founder of CBT in the 1960’s) Philadelphia clinic as well.
In contrast to other forms of psychiatry, CBT is more collaborative, solution-forward based and often shorter in duration. As she said, “I want to impress that in contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy is usually more focused on the present, more limited in duration, and more problem-solving oriented. In addition, clients learn specific skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. These skills involve identifying distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.” Her goal is to give clients a more accurate sense of self by working through past and present issues – helping clients heal.
Her areas of expertise include depression, anxiety, loss and grief, sleep disorders, as well as substance abuse and eating disorders. She works collaboratively with her clients in a relationship-oriented therapeutic mode always mindful that a commitment to therapy is a brave choice.
Sirulnik likes CBT because it helps clients, “think around the problem….see why they are discouraged and guided by disabled thinking.” CBT doesn’t try to convince patients of behaving in a certain way, but it does hope to identify a more accurate assessment of oneself. With CBT, there is always the hope that there is an end to therapy – whether it is 6 or 8 session or several months. Sirulnik likes the idea that there is that goal to have an end to treatment which reassures patients and inspires them to find a way to get there.
She noted that the joke amongst CBT therapists is that they are constantly “trying to put themselves out of work.” She firmly believes that’s her goal, in fact – and then to have her clients continue to use the learned therapeutic tools independently throughout life.
The important thing to remember is that the clients’ goals need to be evaluated then reevaluated to make sure they have been achieved. Once noted, are there new goals? Of course, it varies from client to client. But, promoting healthier thinking and behaviors is always the aim.
Sirulnik loves her location at One Bridge Street, where she shares on office with a child psychologist; it’s an easy walk from the Irvington train station she notes. And, though her office hours are only on Monday in Westchester and Wednesday in Manhattan, she is flexible and is available to alter her hours to accommodate clients. She even has clients whom she meets via Skype and webcams, which are becoming a huge modality in the therapy world. In her work with adults, couples and families, she is happy to talk by phone as well.
“My role,” she explained, “is as a supplement to people’s lives. I believe that therapy can assist you in navigating your path to a place that feels gratifying.”