''As a child, I was a big fan of the old Perry Mason shows and was fascinated by the way he had everything and everyone figured out in the last five minutes of the program. He was able to take what was incomprehensible and put it together in a way that made sense. I didn't know it at the time, but this is a good part of what psychologists do both in research and in clinical settings.''
But Dr. Silverman hasn’t always practiced psychology. Using her B.A. in Communications from Queens College, she took what she calls “a 17-year detour” working in magazine publishing. In that time, she worked as editor for a variety of special interest publications, including Cosmopolitan, Country Living, House Beautiful, and more.
Eventually, she decided to return to school, earning a master’s in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Adelphi University. Before beginning her own practice, Dr. Silverman used her education in a variety of settings, including a domestic violence shelter, a university-based community clinic, a children’s psychiatric hospital, a Veteran’s hospital, and a correctional facility for women.
As Clinical Director for the Growth and Recovery Program, Dr. Silverman helped to develop a new program that integrated harm reduction and abstinence-based treatment into the public sector.
Dr. Silverman explains that, “One of the most important things to come out of this work is that you cannot effectively treat substance use without focusing on the role played by the individual’s emotional life, especially feelings of discomfort and disconnection. This stands in direct contrast to traditional substance abuse treatment which attributes use to weakness, character defects, and the like. I don’t believe the way to help people is to stigmatize them.”
Details of her work with this program have been published in several professional journals. Additionally, Dr. Silverman contributed a chapter to a book entitled Divorce and Custody: Contemporary Developmental and Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Currently, Dr. Silverman is working on a paper on the role of positive affect on alcohol and substance use.
After creating and directing this new program, Dr. Silverman realized that the administrative duties that the work required were taking her away from her real passion, “clinical work with people in distress.”
| Q: What do you enjoy doing when you aren't working?
A: Fishing, knitting, and spending time with my family.
Q. Who is your role model?
A: My father. He had a zest for life, a belief that the glass was always half full, and an incredible ability to adapt and make the best of whatever life threw his way. I believe these are the real keys to a healthy mental life.
Q. What songs are on your IPOD right now?
A: A whole lot of R&B, classic soul, and smooth jazz.
Q. What's your favorite book?
A: It's a toss up: Patrimony by Philip Roth and Ordinary People by Judith Guest. I read the latter way before becoming a psychologist. I don't know what I'd think about it now, but at the time, it was the most moving book I ever read.
Q. What's your favorite quote or saying?
A: "It's all in the way you look at it."
So, after “a period of soul searching,” Dr. Silverman made the choice to begin a private practice. As a current member of the American Psychological Association, the New York Psychological Association, and the Westchester County Psychological Association, Dr. Silverman passes on this advice for those beginning careers in healthcare:
“Whoever said, ‘There are no shortcuts to any place worth going’ was spot on. Being successful in any field requires persistence and hard work. Having said that, I think it’s supremely important to be honest with yourself, and this applies both to those already in the field and to newcomers.
“Think about whether this field or particular position will get you to where you want to go. Is it a stepping stone in the right direction? Especially for those trying to break in, it is important to speak to others in your area of interest. Volunteer if you can. You’ll get the inside scoop in a way you can’t get secondhand. And you’ll begin to build a network that can help you along the way.”