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Featured Therapist Interview
Jennifer L. Taitz, Psy.D., A.B.P.P., is a board-certified cognitive behavioral clinical psychologist and a certified dialectical behavioral therapist who specializes in offering people proven tools to enhance their life. Dr. Taitz is passionate about helping people move past habits that interfere with their capacity for joy. Her first book, End Emotional Eating, earned a Seal of Merit from the Association of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. Dr. Taitz has presented her novel clinical application on mindfulness and managing emotions at national and international conferences. She serves as a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at University of California, Los Angeles, and maintains a clinical practice, LA CBT DBT. For more, please visit drjennytaitz.com.
First, we would like to know a little about your practice.
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
As a therapist, I maintain a growth mindset and wholeheartedly believe change is possible and probable with the right approach. When I sit with my clients, I truly try to embody the strategies I recommend: I aim to be present, non-judgmental, and compassionate, and also try to be, as they say in DBT, radically genuine and effective. In my mind, the kindest thing a therapist can do is strategically help you reach your ultimate goals.
What tips can you offer colleagues just opening a practice?
Have a clear sense of both your personal values and professional mission. Practically, one of the most helpful lessons I’ve learned from my mentors is to gain advanced training. If you hone in on a specialty, you can offer a unique and meaningful contribution. It’s also so rewarding to find a collegial community (like a DBT team)to meet with weekly with the aim of maintaining treatment adherence. I also think it’s important to cherish the unique privilege of having the opportunity to help alleviate pain and to remember that each time someone walks into your door.
How do you remind your patients of their strengths during the therapy process?
Both offering validation and affirmations (as described in Motivational Interviewing): sharing observations of how understandable your client’s emotions are and sincerely stating their strengths seem so helpful in keeping people engaged in the courageous process of approaching new behaviors.
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
Yes! Early on, I found myself torn between wanting to be a writer and also dreaming of becoming a psychologist, and feel so blessed now to try to synthesize both of these aims in writing material for popular audiences to disseminate evidence-based wisdom. Most recently, I published a book on dating
Did you know that worrying about ending up alone actually reduces intelligent thinking? Rather than learning to play games, How to be Single and Happy helps readers feel empowered by more reliable ways to ensure happiness. I also wrote a book on emotional eating , since a lot of the struggles people face with food relate to misusing food to cope with uncomfortable feelings. I’m really fascinated and passionate about ways we can holistically improve our lives. I also enjoy supervising residents in psychiatry in Emanuel Maidenberg’s program at UCLA.
We would also like to know a little about you personally.
Who was your mentor?
There are so many people who inspire me and remain close friends. Lata McGinn taught the first CBT course I took and encouraged me to attend ABCT. Spending a decade with Robert Leahy at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy was a valuable experience, and I’m so grateful to each supervisor and colleague I connected with in the practice. Simon Rego and Dan Goodman are constant cheerleaders who have also been so practically supportive. Experts like Cory Newman and Dennis Greenberger move me to do my best work and to remember that self-help books can spread CBT messages far and wide. I know I would not be the therapist I am today without the contributions of pioneers like Steve Hayes and Marsha Linehan. I can go on and on!
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
I love to exercise, read the New Yorker, visit vegan hotspots, and spend time with my partner and family.
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 your clients?
Change their lives in such positive ways they may not believe is possible.
Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3-5 years?
I see increasing utilization of apps and technology to enhance treatment, and therapies becoming increasingly universal in targeting the underlying processes of emotional pain.
How do you use the local media or social media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
I worry social media compromises my ability to be mindful and participate in the moment so I try to limit my use. That said, it excites me to stumble upon exciting news and pieces I ordinarily may not read.
Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
I’ve been a member of ABCT since 2005.
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
It’s allowed me to learn and connect with the people whose books and theories shape my work and it keeps me growing as a therapist and person.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
The annual convention is invaluable and the referral directory is where I go to find therapists to recommend to people looking for help in cities I don’t know well.
What service(s) are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?
I’d love a comprehensive list to direct people towards low-cost evidence-based treatment options.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!