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Featured Therapist Interview
Dr. Jeff Cohen (he/him) is a clinical psychologist who provides cognitive behavior therapy to adolescents, adults, and couples at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Cohen offers psychotherapy in both the Manhattan (Columbus Circle) and Westchester locations of ColumbiaDoctors.
Dr. Cohen treats anxiety, OCD, and emotional disorders. He also enjoys working with LGBTQ+ people and provides gender affirming care. Dr. Cohen’s approach is collaborative, solution oriented, and tailored to meet treatment goals.
For more information about Dr. Cohen’s practice or to schedule an appointment, please visit his page at the Columbia University Department of Psychology or call 212-305-6001.
You can also find him on Twitter: @DrJeffCohen.
First, we would like to know a little about your practice.
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
Wow, what a question! I’m going to step into a “humble brag” moment, and share my honest thoughts:
Helping teens and young adults who have OCD and/or anxiety:
- I enjoy helping young people at such an important time in their lives, helping to empower them with tools to successfully enter adulthood. Relatedly, I also support LGBTQ+ people and gender diverse youth with affirming care.
• Couples Therapy: I enjoy working with couples in couples therapy, specifically couples who are very much in love – but seeing issues in their home and/or careers. As a psychologist based in New York, a lot of my clients want to “have it all,” and I really enjoy working with them to build out what that version of their life looks like.
• I work to understand intersections. While I’m definitely not a perfect “ally”, I do work to understand the multiple cultural factors that impact my clients. Race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious background, etc. I do work outside of my comfort zone, in the hopes of being a better therapist for people who have a different life experience than mine.
• I’m a nerd! Mental healthcare is a field with new research and publications shared on a daily basis. I don’t stay entrenched in what I’ve learned before – I look at emerging treatments and methodologies. My goal is to provide my clients with clinically proven treatments, and much of that requires being proactive about staying up-to-date on the latest science.
How do you remind your patients of their strengths during the therapy process?
This is such a key part of treatment. In my work with people in therapy, we collaborate together and discuss the strengths. I find it is very powerful if a person works through to naming their own strengths.
In addition, I do sometimes name things that I see, using clear and understandable language. I don’t beat around the bush (I have a background in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and I have been trained in how to be radically genuine). This means I explicitly state the strength. For example, “I am really impressed with how you handled this situation with your loved one. You did a really skillful job of communicating your boundaries, while also creating space to find a solution together. I’m proud you used your skills!”
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
Oh, goodness, yes! Currently, I am writing a book about Dialectical Behavior Therapy for LGBTQ+ people with Dr. Colleen Sloan. I’m also active in professional organizations including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. I’ve been fortunate to offer master clinician seminars and clinical workshops at the annual conferences of these and other organizations.
I am also grateful to teach a class on mindfulness to undergraduates at Columbia University, and I really enjoy working with the students.
Outside of the university, I consult with tech companies on digital mental health in order to come up with solutions for unmet mental health needs.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
Find palm trees! I love traveling to see friends and family in California, Florida, and London (yes, it is possible to find palm trees in London).
We are also interested in some of your views of CBT.
What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for people?
I think that CBT is powerful because it equips people to tackle their own problems. I often tell people I work with in therapy that my job is to put myself out of a job. I want my clients to “graduate” from therapy with me, confident in the skills and tools we’ve developed to go out and live the life they want.
Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3-5 years?
I think (and hope!) we will get better at treating the client or patient as a person, rather than reducing them to a list of diagnoses and issues. This means including experts by experience (eg patients and clients) in the development of new treatments.
How do you use traditional and social media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
I am grateful to co-teach a course on “Writing for the Public,” with my colleague, Deborah Cabiniss, MD. We teach the course to Columbia Psychiatry faculty every fall and spring semester. Our goal is helping the people in our course (eg psychiatrists, psychologists) communicate their mental health knowledge to the public by writing short articles for the mainstream media.
I’ve also heard from a number of faculty and therapists that they find social media intimidating, and I definitely find it intimidating on some days. That said, I’ve found Twitter to be a great way to educate people on the types of therapy available, as well as to combat stigma around mental health.
I also appreciate that social media can be used as a forum for the voiceless or those not in power. Social media can be used to pushback on harmful situations, and I am glad we have it as a way to address these issues that would otherwise go unheard.
Plus, the therapy memes are pretty fun!
Let’s talk about your involvement with ABCT.
How long have you been an ABCT member?
I have been a member of ABCT since 2013, and I served as co-chair of the Sexual and Gender Minority Special Interest Group from 2019 – 2022.
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
ABCT has helped me form authentic connections with other professionals across the country and around the world. I’ve met collaborators, mentors and mentees through the organization. Currently, I’m at Columbia, and while I love my team there it is nice to have an avenue to connect with people who are at other universities and organizations!
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
Like many members of ABCT, I enjoy connecting with people at the conference. As a community, I appreciate working on abstracts and presentations in preparation for the conference. The cross-pollination of ideas is extraordinary.
I cannot imagine the work that goes into the conference, and I’m very appreciative of the team at ABCT making that happen.