Richard Sussman, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW is very familiar with the commonly shared resolve to start the new year right by openly facing and addressing preoccupying issues. He maintains offices at 235 West 76th Street and in Weston, CT. A new patient may come into Sussman’s office, bringing what feels like a heavy, confused load of issues they’ve been going over and over with no resolution.
Sussman has been a therapist for over 30 years. He was initially trained in Gestalt therapy, an approach that promotes self-awareness and centers on the present moment rather than past experiences.
Over time, Sussman has integrated many modalities into his practice. Most generally, the work encompasses both mind and body health. He is known for the integration of Western psychology and Eastern spiritual traditions. Discussion and reflection on the causes of anxiety and frustration are as important as exercises in mind-cleansing meditation and self-awareness.
In conversation, Sussman is straightforward and practical. He is upbeat and supportive. His social work training, empathetic personality, and experience as a therapist promote trust in the compassionate support he offers. He listens, and he’s convincing.
When first meeting a patient, Sussman said he “feels what the person’s energy is in the room. Sensing they are tense and anxious on the first interaction, he might simply ask them to open up to feel the energy, not to label it, as they talk and are guided by him. “They need to experience it, not to run away. Then they see what happens if they are open to the energy in their bodies.”
A first step in getting to know a patient and learning what matters are most concerning, Sussman might ask, “Right now, what issue immediately comes to mind?”
Suppose the matter involves faulty communication between a patient and his son. In that case, the patient might be encouraged, during a therapy session, to create, out loud, a two-way discussion that expresses both what the patient feels himself and what they might expect to hear in return. The imagined conversation is often a useful way to begin addressing the components of the troubled relationship and moving toward managing the block.
With couples, Sussman encourages each person to express to the other what is bothering them most. He reminds them to listen and try to understand the other person’s point of view but not blame the other person…this approach supports the couple not agreeing to a compromise (something that might feel like a loss) but coming to an agreement on how to move toward a more positive way of interacting with each other.
Asked about his greatest strength as a therapist, Sussman answered, “The most important thing is being able to relieve people of the sense that they did something wrong of the feelings of blame or guilt.” Relieving them of that feeling can be achieved fairly quickly,” he said. But, keeping the progress going may require ongoing support; simply put, old habits die hard. But, Sussman has a positive overview based on his many years of experience with patients with numerous different problems. “When people want to feel better about themselves, care about navigating their relationships, it certainly can happen.”