It's been a long road to my current life as a psychotherapist, presenter, and writer.
I was raised in New Jersey, graduated from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, and received my doctorate in 1993 from the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) in San Diego. While I enjoyed the sun, beach, and outdoor culture that San Diego had to offer, I spent my 5 years there focused mainly on my graduate training. I studied different therapeutic methods and was supervised working with both adults and children from diverse backgrounds. My work focused on treating people in various settings, such as outpatient therapy, residential treatment, and a crisis intervention facility. My patients included individuals, couples, groups and families. While at CSPP, I received a broad, strong foundation upon which to further develop my skills.
I went on to complete 18 months' post-doctoral work in New Mexico, where I treated Native American children and their families. I was based at Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Hospital and traveled to three elementary and middle schools on the Acoma and Laguna reservations. My job included providing assessment and treatment for children identified by the schools as needing a psychological evaluation. This was a wonderful experience both personally and professionally. I gained respect for a group of people I previously knew very little about. Along with further developing my skills for working with children and families, I learned a lot about the importance of cultural sensitivity, the power of community, and how a history of being traumatized can affect people.
When my contract in New Mexico ended, I returned to New Jersey and joined the behavioral health staff at Monmouth Medical Center. The center offered outpatient therapy for individuals, couples, families, and groups. In my position as staff psychologist, I provided outpatient psychotherapy and supervised pre-doctoral interns.
In 1997, I accepted a position at Somerset Medical Center as the clinical director of the Women's Trauma Program, which treated women with histories of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Under my leadership, the program expanded to become Women's Psychological Services. We continued to serve women with histories of abuse, but also provided specialized treatment for other women's issues such as eating disorders, postpartum depression, difficulties related to peri-menopause, and issues related to a diagnosis of cancer. Also in my capacity as director, I gave presentations and wrote about mental health issues for various publications. I served as chief of psychology while working at the hospital; and I continue to have medical staff privileges there.
I am presently in private practice, giving presentations, writing for various online and print outlets, and providing individual and couple therapy in my Basking Ridge, NJ office. I have authored Freeing Your Love from Insecurity: How Anxious Attachment Can Undermine Your Relationship and What You Can Do About It. I write a blog for PsychologyToday.com; Making Change: A psychologist provides guidelines to help individuals define their best pathways to change.' I also write the blog The Art of Relationships for WebMD, and I am the relationships expert for WebMD's Relationships and Coping Community.
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
Basking Ridge, NJ