I was born and raised in The Bronx during the 60s and 70s. That experience alone has probably shaped much of my world view, personality and philosophies more than any subsequent academic indoctrination. Perhaps to escape the congestion and mayhem of the city, I, along with my tribe of buddies would frequently steal away from NY to engage in adventures and misadventures in the mountain regions of the northeast and eventually across the entire US. I suppose we thought we were the original “dharma bums”.
After graduating from Dewitt Clinton H.S. in the Bronx, I recognized that my survival depended on getting out of the city and so I attended S.U.N.Y. New Paltz, which at the time was a bastion of progressive idealism. While there I became exposed to mystical philosophies and disciplines originating from eastern traditions. After first majoring in anthropology and then biology, I finally switched my major to psychology. I had the good fortune to work closely with a few professors engaged in behavioral and psychobiological research. At graduation, I was awarded the “Outstanding Senior Award” for my academic and research achievements.
I next attended Southern Illinois University, a “hotbed” of behavioral research at a time when behavior psychology was coming to dominate the field of academic psychology. After graduating with an Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis, I was offered a position at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. Under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Paul Liberman an eminent psychiatrist who himself was a student of BF Skinner and renowned for his research with Schizophrenia, I was appointed to develop and coordinate the new Behavioral Medicine program at the West LA Veterans Administration Medical Center. While there, I helped establish consultation-liaison services to provide behavioral intervention for various medical disorders including diabetes, hypertension and chronic pain. I also participated in providing treatment for Vietnam era vets suffering from PTSD.
My next move was back east to attend the clinical psychology program at Binghamton University. There, I had the good fortune of working in Dr. Donald Levis’s research lab. Dr. Levis is renown, along with his former colleaugue Dr. Thomas Stampfl, for the development of Implosion Therapy (IT). IT is an exposure based behavior therapy that was derived from empirical research stemming from “two-factor” fear theory. Two-factor theory is a powerful heuristic model for conceptualizing human psychopathology. The resulting implosion and “flooding” therapies are widely employed in the treatment of PTSD and other anxiety disorders.
While at Binghamton, I also had the opportunity of providing biofeedback and various cognitive behavioral self-regulatory treatment modalities at a local private practice. I assisted individuals suffering from chronic headaches and other pain syndromes, as well as a variety of other psychophysiological disorders. I conducted my dissertation research at this facility to explore the psychophysiological response patterns of migraine and tension headache sufferers in response to stress.
Upon completing academic requirements, I headed back out to California to conduct a clinical internship at the Long Beach, CA, Veterans Administration Medical Center. I participated in training rotations in behavioral medicine, neuropsychology, chronic pain management, as well as inpatient and outpatient psychotherapy.
After completing the internship I moved back to Binghamton, NY to join an established private practice. After a few years at the practice, in then year 2000, a colleague and I left to form our own practice, Oakdale psychology Associates, PLLC. We continue to aspire toward our dream of forging a multidisciplinary behavioral health consortium to meet the behavioral health care needs of the Southern Tier of New York.
In addition to my clinical work, for many years I also have served as a research reviewer for the American Journal of Psychiatry though I am no longer active in that role. For a couple of years, I also served as a consultant for a local pain management program. Ongoing, since 1995, I have been serving as an adjunct assistant professor at Binghamton University. I have taught graduate level courses, and served on dissertation committees. However, my primary role is to provide clinical supervision for doctoral level students in the Psychological Training Clinic. I also provide paid supervision and consultations to other doctoral level psychologists around the country.
For many years, I have been actively involved in various Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist practices including Zen and Vipassana. I have provided lectures and workshops to discuss the integration of mindfulness based practices with traditional psychological approaches.