Connect the dots: twenty-five years later, I found myself living in a virtual cul de sac on a primetime soap opera, also on CBS. Ironic.
In the interim, I danced my way through high school, majored in English at a small Catholic women's college, and moved to New York City five days after accepting my diploma. Some time in between working behind the belt counter at New York's Saks Fifth Avenue, and on the stage, I found therapy.
A famous New York acting teacher suggested I consider therapy when he realized I was unable to plumb the depths of my life experience and bring it into my work. I was guarded and distrusting, incapable of crying or demonstrating anger within a scene.
I took his advice and my work as an actress soared. But, more amazingly, my connections in my personal life also became more authentic.
After making the leap to Hollywood, I worked a lot, acting in series, pilots, TV movies, and commercials. I spent nine years playing "Laura Avery" on Knots Landing, one of the longest running series in television history; and two seasons on the Golden Globe-winning comedy Brooklyn Bridge.
I knew that, as I got older, I would have fewer opportunities as an actress. I also had a desire to do something bigger with my life: to help people. I went to classes at night, after days on the set of Brooklyn Bridge, and got my Masters in psychology. I was a long-term convert to the benefits of psychotherapy, and I felt I could perhaps become a clinician myself one day. I was then forty, had a toddler, and a six year old.
I relocated to Boston and obtained my Masters in Social Work from Simmons College. From there I went on to work in the counseling center at Brandeis University, while simultaneously teaching in their theater department.
The melding of these two worlds has resulted in a skill set I could not have planned. I have many clients who are performing artists. I was initially trained in the area of distorted body image. The link between body dysmorphic disorder and the performing arts is certainly strong, but these issues plague virtually everyone—from middle school to middle age, women and men alike.
I provide an excellent delivery system—a comedic actress with expertise in areas that people have difficulty talking about.
I want to normalize—and not stigmatize—common human responses to…stress, to the pressure to succeed, to the difficult transition from home to college life. Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven successful with college-aged adults: making changes in distorted thinking in order to change dysfunctional behavior. I am a big proponent of psycho-education. Reading articles about others’ struggling with similar problems can let students know they are not alone. I believe in starting treatment with a focus on a student’s strengths. These tactics combined give college students the structure they crave.
Before you reveal your authentic self to the real world, we will rehearse in a safe, accepting, non-judgmental forum: "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players". I was an excellent actress; I am now the best audience you could ask for, and a skilled "director."