In 1999, while completing my doctoral program, I joined forces with one of the best people in my industry. Initially, we worked together by phone: as a doctoral intern, I was seeing young patients at the eating disorders clinic and adolescent medicine center at Children’s National Medical Center and he was working with their parents. His dedication and integrity were clear. He eventually asked me to come work with him, and actually paid for my remaining credit hours as a doctoral student at an expensive private university.
Over the years, Dr. Neil Schiff and I created a practice, with multiple offices, that was dedicated to supporting the overall community of DC and, in particular, helping the neediest citizens.
So, one of the most gifted family therapists in the entire country became my mentor. He trained with Jay Haley, one of the greats, and owned it. We worked seven days a week, frequently bringing our Labs, Asia and Riddle to work with us. I felt unbelievably blessed. He became a great friend and confidant. We could network our way through anything. He knew all my flaws and strengths and still loved me.
We worked together for the department of state, where I repped the East Africa sector, medevac, and eventually consulted for virtually every office in the DC government. We could make eye contact and know it was time to leave an event. He was not prone to mansplaining, even though year after year he was voted one of the top therapists in Washington DC. He almost never told me what to do, but when he did, it was time to listen.
Tragically, years later he became ill with advanced Parkinson’s, initially misdiagnosed. He had every possible side effect and complication you could possibly experience. He lived in excruciating pain, but always had time to share a glass of champagne, kept chilled for me, and a conversation of substance.
I closed the last office we created together as mental health providers serving the DC community. this past weekend. I lost him as a colleague, never as a friend or loved one. I will love him forever.
May we all be mentored well.