I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In 1998 I opened my private practice Strength for Change, LLC. Since that time, I have treated over 1200 clients, developed innovative treatment methods, presented hundreds of workshops (on a variety of mental health topics), and proven myself to be a highly caring and competent professional. Strength for Change is currently in its 25th year of operation and employs a team of caring, knowledgeable, and highly skilled clinicians. Together we have earned the trust and respect of the communities we serve. In addition to my work at Strength for Change, I coached youth basketball for 26 years. As you read on you will discover why basketball is such an important part of my life.
I initially developed the 1-2-3 Succeed Program to help my adolescent clients improve their behavior and grades. Once I realized how effective it was, with most clients cooperating more at home and improving a full letter grade in school (usually within two marking periods), I was inspired to make my program available to the public. After modifying and converting my program into a format better suited for children and parents outside of my care, the 1-2-3 Succeed Program is now available to anyone interested in helping a child improve their behavior and school grades.
While I initially created the 1-2-3 Succeed Program in response to my clients’ needs, its true inspiration comes from my own life experiences dating all the way back to kindergarten. At the time I was five years old and my family had just immigrated to the United States. I did not know English, and I had the hardest time learning to read and write. To make matters worse, my parents did not know English either and could not help me in any way. Over the years, as the schoolwork got harder, I became more and more discouraged. Eventually, by 8th grade, I disliked school so much that I started to cut class, hang out with the “wrong” crowd, and get into all sorts of trouble.
What turned my life around was my passion for the game of basketball. I really wanted to play for my high school team, and in order to do so, I had to have a 2.0 GPA. With mostly Ds and a couple of Fs on my first marking period report card, things did not look good for me. Out of desperation I asked one of my coaches for help. Fortunately, he was an academic All-American during his playing days (an award given to the top student-athletes in the country) and knew what it took to be successful in school. I met with him several times and he taught me how to be organized and how to best study for quizzes and tests. I benefited greatly from his help. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was actually making the honor roll.
I wish that making the honor roll was the end of the story and that from that point forward school was easy and enjoyable for me, but that was not the case. When I got to college (I attended and played basketball at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA), I found myself underachieving again. The workload was harder and more difficult to manage, especially with all the freedom in college. This time I turned to my professors for help. They taught me strategies for time management, note taking, essay writing, and test taking. Once again, I benefited greatly from the support I received and I was able to graduate college in four years. Despite my accomplishments, my underachievement caused me great stress and insecurity throughout my time in school.
Years later, I discovered one of the main factors to my behavior and school difficulties. I had dyslexia, a learning disability that made reading and writing very difficult and caused me a great deal of insecurity, shame, and stress. While I wish I would have gotten help for my learning disability earlier, struggling as much as I did inspired me to help others facing similar circumstances. In addition, it also taught me that regardless of any weaknesses or deficits I may have, with the right attitude, the right support system, and the right strategies, I could achieve just about anything I set my mind to. My hope is that by following the 1-2-3 Succeed Program students will learn the same lessons and use them to achieve their school and life goals!