As a counselor I bring 32 years experience working with children, youth, adults, and families in a variety of professional settings. Over these years I have come to know that we are all capable of living deeply fulfilling lives, and that beneath whatever suffering we may be experiencing, we are all a wonderful and meaningful part of this world. My collaborative counseling approach aims to help clients safely embody presence, perspective, curiosity, creativity, playfulness and compassion by interweaving the principles of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO) couple therapy, and the practice of Mindfulness.
- Trained in Internal Family Systems (IFS) as a Counselor (www.ifs-institute.com)
- Trained in Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO) as a Couple Counselor (www.toniherbineblank.com)
- 28 year career with YMCAs and JCCs as Executive Director of year-round Children’s and Family Camps in PA, WA, NY, MI, and MA
- 12 years as a YMCA CEO
- 16 years of dedicated mindfulness practice and multiple retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, and Tara Brach
- Former professional jazz musician (Drummer)
- Father of two Young Adult Sons
From time to time, most of us have internal conflicts. When in conflict these “parts” of us have become unbalanced by challenging beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that were taken on at different stages of life. When we feel trapped and burdened by inner conflicts and also by our efforts to avoid hurt and pain, counseling can guide and support us in bringing curiosity and compassion to all of our “parts” with the aim of restoring balance, and having more inner harmony.
Supportive counseling can guide you to tap into your inner wisdom and develop the self-knowledge, and self-acceptance you need to work with your life challenges.
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
“Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a psychotherapy method that was developed by the psychologist and family therapist Richard Schwartz in the 1980’s. IFS is based on the idea that psychic multiplicity is normal. We all have “parts” and, in addition, we are all born with a core wise “Self” that is characterized by valuable qualities that include curiosity, calm, clarity, connectedness, confidence, courage, and compassion. However, some of our parts invariably feel obliged to take on protective roles in response to shaming or frightening events, especially in childhood. Although they aim to keep us safe from further harm by banishing injured, vulnerable parts from our awareness, they continue warding off or distracting from emotional pain beyond the time of danger and can affect our quality of life profoundly. Some protectors are proactive e.g. self-criticism), others are reactive (e.g. impulsive anger).
“In IFS we do not do battle with parts who have developed extreme ideas nor do we push them away. Rather, we get curious about their motives and who they protect. We trust that they can express themselves and will emerge when they feel welcome and safe enough. Through the relationship between the Self and parts, IFS aims to heal vulnerable parts and release their protectors. This approach can help individuals, couples, families and larger systems restore harmony and balance.”
Richard C. Schwartz, PhD & Martha Sweezy, PhD
Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO)
“Intimacy from the Inside Out© is a psychotherapy method using a systemic approach to heal, improve, and provide relationship help. IFIO uses the intimate relationship itself as a vehicle for growth and healing of the individual, as well as the couple. This way of couple counseling embraces that each of us as human beings are resilient and have access to inner resources of self -love and self-regulation. It is a non-pathologizing approach that helps people make sense of their life experience in a safe and collaborative way.
“In IFIO counseling each member of the couple is invited into a process, which leads to a self compassionate, and secure relationship with him or herself. This then makes it possible to stay connected with oneself and one’s partner even in times of stress and relational rupture. Inviting the exploration of each partner’s individual inner life supports couples in envisioning a lively dance that includes: Communicating well; Repairing inevitable rupture; Making room for the needs of both individuals, as well as the relationship; and Exploring authentic heartfelt connection.”
Toni Herbine-Blank, MSN, RN
Over the past year, my children and I have been through some of the most challenging and difficult times in our lives. As a family we have been going through a divorce, moves, changes in career, personal transitions, the quietus of a wife and mother, single fatherhood, traumatic events in my children’s lives and other hardships. I am a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. I have dealt with and continue to deal with therapists day in and out in my line of work. I have never worked or known of a counselor that is as dedicated to the children and families they treat as much as David is. This is a calling for him. He is invested in helping my children. He is able to walk that fine line of working and allying with the children and at the same time working with the parents. He is constantly trying to bridge that communication divide that is almost always responsible for breakdown in relationships. He goes above and beyond to make sure that the children get the help that they need. He is inquisitive, creative, caring, and supportive. He “gets it”. He has a deep understanding of the issues and at the same time is open to learning about other’s perspectives. I believe that he played a significant role in saving our lives, literally. I am lucky and forever grateful that our paths crossed and that he became part of our family.
I am a therapist with a private practice in the Pioneer Valley, and I came to David seeking supervision and support to increase my capacity as an IFS practitioner. After our first meeting it became very clear that I first needed to create more nurturing space and energy for myself, and David was happy to switch into a counselor role. Over the past year David has helped me see the parts of myself that I have been running from/blocking out, and those that have taken on extreme roles in my life. Most importantly, he has shown me through his own caring, nurturing, curious, and calm way of being that I can also be all of those things towards myself. I have always thought of myself as a kind and caring person, but I have only recently realized with David's help the ways in which my inner protectors have been blocking me from fully experiencing connection and love. Even as a therapist it has been incredibly challenging for me to find someone to work with who is the right fit, and I was beginning to doubt that I would ever find "the right person". In the therapy world there is so often a clear divide between therapist and client, that keeps both at an arm's length from authentic connection. One thing that feels so different about David is that he truly cares, without judgement or criticism. When David felt that I needed more support he offered up a Saturday afternoon for a personal retreat, so that I could deepen my connection with my parts. I was awed that anyone would do that for me. I have parts of me that need to feel another's caring before they can fully trust and be seen. I trust David on the deepest level, and I am so grateful that he is in my life. I can say wholeheartedly that my work with David has helped me become a better therapist, a better husband, and a better dad.
Over the past four years in working with David, I have come to know parts of myself that I didn't know even existed. Before coming to David, I felt trapped inside myself and did not know why. Traumas I experienced from childhood within my family and in the world of sports, left me feeling hopeless. Everyday was a battle in which I felt unable to persist through both mundane and difficult moments. I was hesitant about embarking on a journey with counseling, as I had never done it before. Then when I met David, life and light was brought back into my life! His honest and gentle approach provided the space to mend old wounds and offered the possibility to begin anew. His ability to guide me through slowing down and processing what is going on in my life through dialoguing with my parts, has opened up a world of possibilities. Sessions with my parents and me with David facilitating, allowed us to come closer together and grow both as individuals and as a family. I am forever grateful to David for having helped me see what matters in life and how to be more Self led in facing moments of anxiety or challenge with a new sense of strength.
I had only average experience with previous therapy and was unsure about starting IFS work with David. I cannot express how grateful I feel for going through with it. My perspective about myself and the external world has completely changed in less than a year of working with David. He creates a comfortable space which has helped me find my own truth and values. I feel incredibly rewarded after each session and can see clearly the progress we have been making. Furthermore, David has taught me how to make my own progress outside of his sessions. David is extremely flexible and open. He is willing to make sacrifices in his life in order to help with yours. Besides traditional meetings, David has helped guide me in a variety of different ways. We have done walking meditations through the woods that have taught me beneficial mindfulness practices. He has provided day-long IFS sessions that incorporated my parents. These have fundamentally helped change my relationship with both my mom and dad. David even facilitated for me a three day long personal counseling retreat. This retreat provided me with a reset on life, and it has shifted the way I want to live going forward. The care and attention David brings is exceptional and rare to find. Thank you David for helping me understand that change is possible, and for helping me achieve that change.
My counseling with David began in 2020 and not too long after that, my life was essentially flipped upside down. I experienced my parents divorcing and felt abandoned by my mom moving away from my siblings and I. Looking back now, it's hard to imagine how I would have made it through this time in my life without David’s support. Walking with David every week for our counseling sessions made a world of difference. He is friendly, compassionate, and never fails to bring Self-energy to every session. David has shown me how to unburden painful beliefs that parts of myself hold from childhood. Sometimes a part of me still says that what happened was my fault. The difference presently is that my Self hears that message, and approaches it with curiosity. I tune in, and I sit with that part until it’s all caught up and reminded of who I am now, and not who I was at that time. If I can’t see this on my own, I know David will guide me. He has helped me to understand my absent mom's exiles and have compassion for them, and at the same time to be there for myself and have compassion for me too! I still talk to my mom sometimes, though our conversations are always difficult. After talking to her I have to take a moment to remember what David would say: “We can’t control what people say to us, but we have a choice in how we respond". He has taught me to look at: "When someone hurts you, how do you treat yourself?" And then I think, what messages am I sending myself? Because of David, I feel ready to go to college this fall as a social work major and start my adult life. When the inevitable times of hardship show up, I now know I’ll be okay. This is because over the past three years I have come to realize my capacity to be calm, courageous, creative, and curious about situations when they arise or soon thereafter.
Nearly two years ago when first starting counseling with David, I didn’t expect the positive shifts that would arise in all aspects of my life from working with him. David was recommended to me by a friend, and due to unhelpful experiences with other kinds of therapy in the past, I was nervous about going back to therapy. From our first session together, David instantly made me feel so at ease and like I could open up about my feelings and experiences without judgment. I had previously been told that I had anxiety, or depression, and that those parts of me were not good and needed to be “fixed.” Instead of this way of thinking, David brings patience, kindness, and humor to each session, and this has helped me reframe my own view of myself. He guided me to see that no parts of us have bad intentions and that there is nothing inherently wrong with me, in contrast to the messages I received as a child and teenager. We’ve talked through my experiences as an immigrant and first generation American. The most comforting outcome of this has been my ability to better connect with my family, which I had previously believed to be totally impossible. No matter what goes on in my life or how bleak a situation seems, David has a way of leading me to the root of my feelings and helping me be with them, rather than shutting them out. He continues to be an invaluable source of both knowledge and empathy, and I encourage anyone seeking to learn more about themselves and everyone around them to experience the truly transformational counseling process that is IFS!
I am introverted, shy and have always had great difficulty being vulnerable and opening up. I had worked with five different therapists/counselors over the past 3 years and never lasted more than a couple sessions with any of them as everything felt forced. It was like I was acting rather than letting my true self show, as I never felt heard or seen. It seemed like I was just another client, unimportant, a means of making money. I thought maybe I’m just too broken, too traumatized to ever be fixed. Then I stumbled upon Family Life Healing and met David. I was hesitant at first, as I had never worked with a male counselor before and much of the trauma I suffered as a child stemmed from men. To my relief I felt an instant connection the first time I spoke to David, permeated by a feeling of safety, soothed by the non judgmental tone of his voice. He has a calm, understanding, intuitive demeanor which is clear and comes naturally to him. He is living his passion, his purpose and it shows in each session. I feel seen, really SEEN for the first time in my life. I have gained so much clarity, confidence and hope since working with him. I am so excited to see what the future has in store for me. Just months ago I was simply trying to survive day to day, hoping to make it to tomorrow. I often questioned my purpose and everything felt meaningless. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread and David has had the ability to shift my entire outlook on life. I am forever thankful for finding this gem. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!