Tag Archives: mentor

Jordan’s law and traumatic brain injury

A year and a half ago, one of my dear mentors, Neuropsychologist Dr. Jim Lewis, helped implement Jordan’s Law, to help protect young children who have suffered severe head injuries through abuse.

Jordan’s case still haunts medical and mental health professionals. Jordan was just two years old when investigators say his mother threw him into a wall causing him to have seizures. When he died later, investigators say his body was left in a wooded area and his parents came up with an elaborate story to cover up what really happened.

Jordan’s death highlighted major break downs in communication and data between law enforcement and mental health/child protection workers and posed questions about how his mother was able to regain custody of her son after earlier abuse allegations. Jordan’s death lead Florida to become the first state in the nation to mandate brain injury trauma training for all child welfare workers and mental health professionals working with young children (ages 1-6). Since Jordan’s Law took effect, a dozen other states have reached out to Dr. Lewis to help set up similar laws to protect children.

Dr. Jim Lewis headed the free training courses for professionals. Before the legislation was put forth, I frequently sat in court with him in Maryland and Washington DC for kids who had been shaken and had suffered brain injuries as a result, voiceless victims often injured for life.

Dr. Lewis told me the neuropsychology trainings are often eye-opening. Social service, medical, law enforcement, and mental health workers are astonished when they hear how frequently brain injuries can occur from shaking a child, shoving a child, or even pushing them. Even without lethal force, the vulnerable brain can lead to injuries resulting in learning disabilities, attention problems, and a host of medical issues. Without physical evidence of harm, these symptoms often go undetected.

For more info on brain trauma: Brain Trauma and Psychological Functioning.

Mentor and Mentee: On Growth Through Belief and Challenge

Earlier today, the wife of an early mentor in my life contacted me via my website. My clinical assistant quickly forwarded it to me. The message was regarding a mentor from over 21 years ago who has end-stage cancer and is in hospice. He received an article, via a friend, that I wrote recently about the importance of mentorship and how mentors in my personal life had brought me to who I am today, by believing in me, challenging me, and teaching me.

She wrote: I read your essay to him and it brought tears to his eyes. He was diagnosed last December and has had a tough go of it. In 2019, he was instrumental in requiring brain trauma and injury education for all working with the child welfare and court system to help protect children ages one through six. This has now become Congressional law and you were part of this process. He’s at home now with the help of hospice and struggles to speak, and sometimes wonders if his life and work did any real good. Your tribute showed how much he did. Thank you for writing about your experiences with him, it made him tremendously happy.

My own tears aside, I have always believed firmly in the importance and value of having great mentors or Sensei. It is a timeless way of learning and carrying on knowledge.

What are mentors?
–  Mentoring is the act of passing down a body of consolidated knowledge and experience to another person. It is a one on one relationship that is intentional and is based on encouragement, openness, trust, respect, feedback, belief, and willingness to learn and share.
–  Mentors are recognized experts or scholars in their field.
–  Mentoring requires taking genuine interest in helping another person grow and develop, without transactional interactions.
–  A good mentor is a role model who shows you what is possible, while encouraging you to attain even higher goals.
–  A mentor is a safe space. They may offer corrective feedback and constructive criticism, but they do not belittle, diminish, or minimize your capacities and talent. They may be an expert, but they never make you feel less than.

May we all receive mentors and become mentors to others.
(With love and respect:
*to Dr. Allen Roses, Neurogenetics, Duke University, #RIP who took me out for shrimp and chicken wing lunches when I was a poor student, and taught me how to extract DNA and run a centrifuge in my sleep. He exemplified that science saves lives;
*to Dr. George Bonanno, Columbia University, one of the top resiliency and trauma experts in the world who traveled back-and-forth from New York to Washington DC on his own dime to help me with my data collection during 9/11 and my overall dissertation research;
*to Dr. Sandy Zeskind, Virginia Tech, who helped me fall in love with clinical psychology and developmental psychology and believed in me enough to give me a senior position in his lab at age 18;
*to Dr. Jim Lewis, clinical neuropsychologist, an advocate for victims of brain trauma, who took me from graduate student to professional without qualms, asked me to co-teach his class, and was unfailingly kind and nurturing even with his years of knowledge and experience;
*And, to my dearest Dr. Neil Schiff, who hired me straight out of a doctoral program, helped pay my tuition bills, was steadfastly there through personal woes, trusted me enough to become his Clinical Director for multiple offices, and most importantly taught me that social activism + mental health are the key to the future.

Thank you.

Mentors Are A Gift

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.

Embolden Psychology

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

Thank you for contacting us.