Meet Dr. Berkman: Counseling Psychologist  

Deb Berkman Picture.jpg

I have practiced for 27 years as an integrative psychotherapist, meaning that I draw from many different therapeutic approaches in order to tailor my work to your specific needs.  I believe that health and wellness are dependent on not only physical health but your emotional health too.  Your physical health is facilitated by understanding and addressing emotional barriers in your life.  I believe you need, and deserve, support, empathy, and understanding to achieve health of mind, body, and spirit. So many of us, especially under stress, believe that our health challenges are somehow “our fault” or that we have done something to deserve them.  Sometimes being able to identify these negative assumptions, and uncover where they might have come from, is a first step toward positive change and enhanced wellness.

What is an integrative approach to counseling?

I draw from several different approaches to therapy including insight-oriented, cognitive-behavioral, internal family systems, sensorimotor, and emotionally focused methods.  Your needs are unique —how you learn, how you adapt to your situation, and how you communicate interpersonally —I tailor our work to fit with your level of comfort using these different approaches.  The approach that is most beneficial for fostering change and clarity is a combination of insight into the past and present history of the problem.  I facilitate an understanding of how your past influences your present, and most importantly, how to cultivate and implement new behaviors that counteract your old ways of thinking and acting.

Often times, people come to realize that a habit or a pattern of thinking that originated from past events was adaptive at the time, but as our circumstances change behaviors that once worked to protect us now get in the way.  I believe that simply understanding the root of your problem is not sufficient without behavior change.  However, for behavior change to be long lasting and useful to you, insight is an essential part of the healing process.

Why are you passionate about supporting new mothers and families?

I derive my passion for my therapy work through my personal beliefs and values. These include the right of every woman to have a healthy and supported pregnancy and postpartum experience, and the right of every child born to be loved. I believe that women who have had pregnancies during which they are in touch with their feelings - whether they be positive, negative, or a mixture of the two - will then be able to bond securely to their infants, even in the light of difficult moments, which inevitably come in the postpartum period.  I believe that parents who form secure attachments then go on to be good parents. I also believe that challenges during pregnancy and postpartum are completely normal and that nonjudgmental empathy and support can minimize them. 

Postpartum depression and anxiety are real, and can be potentially debilitating and terribly isolating.  As with chronic pain, often women blame themselves for these conditions, and feel isolated and alone. Therapy cannot only help with the feelings of self-blame and isolation, but also facilitate referrals for additional kinds of support and interaction. I believe that a healthy mother—a healthy woman—is the foundation for a thriving family.

Professional Background

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Master of Arts in Teaching
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Bachelor of Arts
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Certificate for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Postpartum Support International