Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why I'm Getting "Lost In Staten Island" on June 28th

Loving someone with a severe mental illness is challenging.  But losing that person to suicide is one of the hardest things a family can ever go through.  Surviving such a loss takes patience, courage, hope, and even humor.  Fortunately, New York playwright Richard Sheinmel has brought all of these elements together in his groundbreaking new play, "Lost In Staten Island," now playing through July 1st at La Mama in Manhattan, 74E E.4th Street in the East Village, for only $18.  

Based on true events that took place in Sheinmel's family, "Lost In Staten Island" offers the audience a glimpse of how a family absorbs the shock and horror of losing a son and a brother in such a tragic way.  After the death of his brother, the character of Mitch (Sheinmel) must return home to accompany his mother on a day full of difficult but necessary tasks.  Alternately humorous and heartfelt, the drive takes them to unexpected places, where nerves are bared, secrets revealed, and confessions made. Although he grew up in “the forgotten borough,” he finds the familiar roads hard to navigate when landmarks change.

I am proud to be hosting a discussion panel following the performance on Thursday, June 28th, that will address the themes brought up in the play, and will help the audience learn practical and effective ways to survive such devastation.  I am thrilled to be joined on stage by following panel:
Richard Sheinmel (Playwright, Performer) was born on Coney Island, and is a graduate of both LaGuardia HS for Music and the Performing Arts and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.  His produced plays include Downtown Dysfunctionals (librettist; Zipper Theater, 2001) where he met his longtime collaborator composer and lyricist Clay Zambo, Jitter (Arclight Theatre, 2006), and the Modern Living series which began in 2006,  in the club at La MaMa ETC and is currently now playing, of which the Post Modern Living edition was published in “Plays and Playwrights 2011” and is available for download at    For more information or to contact Richard go to

Deniece Chi (Family Coordinator at National Alliance On Mentally Ill) turned to NAMI for help in January 2005, two weeks after her daughter Lucy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A single mom at the time, Deniece decided to educate herself about her daughter’s condition, particularly since she was finding that the existence of mental illness was often denied in her Caribbean culture. Her commitment to the program led to her hire in January 2010 as NAMI-NYC Metro’s Family and Basics Coordinator and State Trainer. Since then, Deniece has taught over 50 classes and has graduated over 500 parents and professionals. Deniece has been instrumental in NAMI-NYC Metro’s use of NAMI Basics to train workers in the child welfare system and parent advocates in the mental health and child welfare systems. She is honored to be able to help family members find the support, respect and services that they deserve.

Kathy McGuire (Volunteer with American Foundation For Suicide Prevention) provides support, aid, and comfort to those who have lost someone to suicide after losing her own father to suicide in 1971.   Her day job is a Sales Assistant with a Wall Street  brokerage firm.    Kathy was born and raised in New York City in the exact middle of the baby boom and remained a lifetime resident.   Her favorite things in the world:  swimming, kayaking, birdwatching, book clubs, and the Russian Bath-House.  Ongoing reminder to herself:  To get to LaMama ET more often. 

So please consider joining me for a night of entertainment, education, and healing.  Even if you can't come on June 28th, the show is definitely worth seeing.  Tickets are only $18 and available for purchase here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Finding The Quality of Equality

History was made this past month when President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage in the United States.  There has been much media coverage and celebration of this courageous and progressive statement.  But what I find missing in all the arguments around same-sex marriage is how people intend to maintain the quality of their equality.  In a country where over half of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, do GLBT couples truly want to replicate the exact same dynamics?  Or is there a way to change the approach to couple-hood so that all relationships can be politically and emotionally satisfying?

Of course I am completely supportive of equal marriage rights for all.  But I am also in favor of couples becoming better educated, more prepared, and further counseled about taking this legal step in their relationship.  I believe that Marriage Family Therapists like myself would see a lot less business if people learned basic relationship skill sets before they committed to a lifetime together.  My psychotherapy practice assists individuals and couples in learning effective and proactive tools that can be easily implemented outside the therapy room, so that relationships remain a source of empowerment, fulfillment, and fun.

I have always believed that arts and entertainment, especially theater, can be a great source of learning and reflection. To that end, I am thrilled to be facilitating a panel discussion after "A Dance For Rylie" on Wednesday, June 13th, at 45 Bleecker Street, at 5pm.  This innovative and groundbreaking musical examines the political and medical intricacies of a serodiscordant relationship (meaning one is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative).  It demonstrates the essential role of compassion, communication, and compromise, in building and sustaining a long term and joyful union.  I hope you will join me on June 13th, or any one of the other performances, for this beautiful and eloquent play.  The tickets are only $18, and are on sale here.  

The biggest mistake one can make in a relationship is to wait until it's over to ask for help.  Would you wait until the house burned down to call the fire department?  Then please consider how counseling can help you maintain the quality of your equality before the arguments, the resentments, and the anger build up.  To discuss further, please feel to reach me at, or call at 347-227-7707.  If you or anyone you know wants to see a video profile of my work, please check out my Therapick page. 

I hope your summer is starting "should-less"!  Let me know how I can help.