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Rebecca Sachs, PhD, ABPP, is a clinical psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of individuals on the Autism spectrum who also experience difficult co-occurring disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and severe anxiety. She works with individuals across the lifespan, and loves to talk, lecture, and train others about Autism and common complicated co-morbidities. She is board-certified in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology and brings warmth, sensitivity, and a strong sense of humor to her work as a licensed clinical psychologist. As a member of Spectrum Services, Dr. Sachs maintains a private practice there in Manhattan as well as South Slope in Brooklyn. She was recognized as a rising star by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), receiving their Career Development Leadership Award in 2015. She received her Bachelors degree, and PhD from New York University and Hofstra University, respectively, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Miami.
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
The sense of humor that I bring to therapy (or I’d like to think so!), along with my expertise in ASD and OCD, and my passion and dedication to collaborating with patients to create a more meaningful and successful life.
What “tips” can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
Get out of the office! The best way to build a practice is to have a community of other professionals to network and collaborate with. The same advice applies to practicing therapy. All of our CBT techniques, such as behavioral activation, problem-solving, exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, are powerful tools, but they can be even more powerful when put into use in real life. It is sometimes challenging to replicate or connect to real life when sitting on a coach, so I find getting out the office and into my patients’ lives can be transformative.
Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?
I’m actively involved in other professional organizations that are dedicated to increasing understanding and bringing evidence-based treatments to individuals with Autism, OCD, and Anxiety. Additionally, I have the privilege of serving as an examiner for the American Board of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology (ABBCP), which is part of American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). As part of the examination process, I have particularly enjoyed seeing how many people are passionate and take seriously the practice of CBT. Also, selfishly I have had the opportunity to meet individuals who work with patients very different than mine and thus have had a first-hand window into seeing how CBT can be delivered to such a wide array of groups.
Who was your mentor?
Luckily, I have had a lot of wonderful mentors along my journey; some have fallen in my lap and others I have sought out. I have been mentored not only as a clinician but also as a business woman, and I do think mentorship is critical to being a successful professional and successful therapist. Because of this I am dedicated to “paying it forward,” and believe mentorship is something we as a profession should be doing a lot more of at every step of training and professional development. I think a lot of individuals from less typical groups get discouraged from applying or finishing grad school or pursuing academia/private practice and it’s to the detriment of how CBT is practiced and who it effectively reaches.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
I love to travel! While I can’t just hop on a jet plane every weekend, luckily I live in a phenomenal city (Brooklyn!!!) where I can easily play tourist with my daughter and my friends.
How do you use the local or social media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
I find social media, when used properly, can really be an effective tool to let people know about CBT and how robust it is. I’m active on twitter and find there is a wonderful community of pro-CBT practitioners, pro-science doctors, and people from all backgrounds – including autistics and those with OCD who are sharing good information and support. I’m also part of several parenting and mommy groups on Facebook, and have found just chiming in that I’m a psychologist who would be happy to chat with parents struggling goes a long way. Sometimes our conversations are about anxiety and understanding how it’s different from developmentally appropriate “stress” and other times it’s explaining in very lay terms the nuts and bolts of behaviorism and how it can be easily applied to parenting. I can’t tell you how many people breathe a sigh of relief to understand about “functions of behavior,” extinction burst, and how star charts really can be used to help kids be more flexible (especially when the proper reinforcer is identified and implemented)!