Featured Therapist for June, Robin Greenberg
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists. This month’s Featured Therapist is Robin Greenberg, LSW, MFT who joined the staff in 2019. Learn more about her in the interview below!
What drew you to counseling as a career?
I have leaned toward helping others all my adult life, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I developed a deep appreciation for the impact therapy can have on individuals, couples, and families. Early in my career I was drawn to program development and administration and enjoyed that work very much. As I matured and experienced more of the complexities of life and family, I became inspired by how therapy can alleviate pain and suffering, and lead to more satisfying and fulfilling relationships.
I see therapy as an investment in the future, as well as the present. When I work with a teenage client who has trouble controlling her anger, which for her is rooted in anxiety and depression stemming from her divorced parents’ conflict, I am aware that the positive changes she makes in her life can affect her ability to form a healthy committed partnership in her future. As I work with a couple who find themselves disconnected emotionally and sexually after years of focus on kids and careers, we can identify patterns of avoidance and distraction and work toward reinvigorating what brought them together in the first place. This sets an example for their kids of what a healthy marriage looks like.
What do you help your clients work towards?
I believe change occurs on many levels, from behavioral changes to reframing thought patterns to deep emotional and experiential shifts. I see the role of therapy as helping a person create deeper, more meaningful, sustainable change than someone can achieve on their own. The safety of the relationship with the therapist, along with sound knowledge and skills guiding the process, supports clients to explore and heal the vulnerabilities and emotional wounds that get in the way of fulfilling their individual and relational goals.
As a therapist, I work with clients to help them feel seen and validated, to understand how and why they might be feeling stuck in patterns that cause them pain. Together, we create a safe space to talk about that vulnerability so they can heal and change how they experience and respond to others. I don’t approach my clients asking how do I help this person? I ask, how do I help them help themselves? The first thing I try to do is listen. I hear their concerns, how they see their problems, what they want to address in therapy, as well as the strengths they bring, and the challenges they have overcome.
Which clients do you enjoy working with most?
I work with a diverse group of clients, with a variety of presenting issues, and I am comfortable working with anyone from early adolescents to seniors. One issue I am particularly drawn to is examining and treating the effects divorce has on children. I work with many adults whose parents’ divorced when they were young. I refer to them as Adult Children of Divorce. Despite the upheaval occurring many years ago, the experience often affects their own partnered relationships, as well as their parenting. I have been involved in this issue from both angles; working with co-parents, and working with Adult Children of Divorce. My work with co-parents, either counseling, mediating, or teaching co-parent education classes, is explicitly focused on reducing the negative effects on the kids; keeping them out of the middle. When I work with a client whose parents divorced, whether I see them individually or as a member of a couple, I am particularly sensitive to their life experience of having their family unit and home life disrupted, their loyalties strained, and often their world view of love, family, and commitment shaken.
Describe a useful tool or exercise that you like to share with your clients.
I co-facilitate our Couples Communications Essentials workshops and find those exercises to be very useful with the couples I see. Two exercises I use for increasing empathy and intimacy are “Telling a Personal Story” and “Emptying the Emotional Jug.” A tool for reducing escalation of conflict is creating an agreed-upon, structured process for Time Out. Also, at the end of most of my sessions, whether with couples or individuals, my clients are invited to set an intention for the coming week(s).
Why did you choose Council for Relationships?
I grew up and studied Social Work in New York, where I’m originally from, but the Philadelphia area has been my home for many years. I chose to work at CFR for the connection with colleagues and the enriching therapy community. Having trained in the Post Graduate Certificate Program in Marriage and Family Therapy and Sex Therapy, and grown to appreciate the depth of skill and expertise among my colleagues, I knew being a part of this agency would provide ample opportunity to learn and grow after I finished the program.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give people who may be struggling emotionally and would like to seek counsel but may not be ready?
To someone who is considering therapy, I would say this: sometimes people find it easier to start small, with a single issue to talk about and see how it feels. There have been times I’ve met with a client or couple for two or three sessions, and that was all it took for them to correct the relationship and feel better. You don’t need to make a long-term commitment to therapy, or to a therapist, based on a first impression. Find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable, test the water, and if it isn’t the right fit, that’s ok, just let them know.
Robin Greenberg is a staff therapist at our Center City, Paoli, and Wynnewood offices; she currently sees clients via online therapy . To set up an appointment, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-382-6680 ext. 7074.