What are some misconceptions about substance use/misuse?
One of the major misconceptions that I have come across is the notion that “once a problematic substance user, always a problematic substance user”. Or, in other words, “once an addict, always an addict”. By committing to this phrase, we are essentially saying that substance users are powerless and cannot ultimately improve. This has been proven false to me over and over again. When provided with the right professional treatment and support, people who use substances problematically are as likely to improve as anyone who is dedicating the time and effort to work on life’s challenges. Yes, it takes hard work and commitment, but so does any change in a person’s lifestyle.
What do you think are the essential ingredients to helping people?
Openness, inquisitiveness, and the therapeutic relationship. It would be difficult for me to be of help to someone if I had my own agenda to push. Listening to what each person needs and wants is a huge part of my work and doing so means that I have to meet my clients where they are at. I find that when the change is generated from the client’s words or actions, and not from my own, that change is exponentially more powerful, sustained, and meaningful. If I give my clients the space to become the experts on themselves, it gives me the chance to be curious about who they are. Taking a stance that is open and inquisitive allows for our relationship to grow and become one in which each member of the relationship feels comfortable and productive inside and outside the therapy room.
How did you get into this field?
Honestly, it was a no-brainer for me (no pun intended). I knew I wanted to be a psychologist before I even knew what a psychologist was. As a young adolescent, I moved from London to Los Angeles with my immediate family and was thrown in to a new culture with very different people than I was used to. My experience of moving and having to learn to fit in with my new surroundings enhanced my observations and required a keen understanding of how people interact. I have always held a natural fascination with the way we respond and react to one another and to the world around us. I remember my high school psychology teacher introduced me to the idea that I can actually use my fascination to build a future profession…and that was it for me – I would say it was love at first sound!
Dr. Devora Reichman is a psychologist at the Center for Optimal Living, specializing in the treatment of substance misuse. Above all, she aims to create a collaborative and individualized treatment environment with a specialized focus on integrative harm reduction. Currently, in addition to her work at the Center for Optimal Living, Dr. Reichman is also a psychologist, supervisor, and adjunct facultyaat City College Counseling Center of New York, where she primarily provides psychological services to young adults, Her main specialties are: Substance Misuse, Integrative Harm Reduction, Relationship Difficulties, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Email Devora: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 212-213-8905 x115.