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Weather the Storm

by Lisa Weinberg, PhD and Jennifer Vogel-Davis, Psy.D

Lisa Weinberg, Ph.D and Jennifer Vogel-Davis, Psy.D are licensed psychologists in New Jersey and New York and have practices in Montclair, New Jersey. They specialize in the treatment of complex trauma and are both certified in EMDR and trained in IFS and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. They previously worked together at Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) at Montclair State University where they co-led trauma groups for female-identifying survivors of sexual and physical trauma and helped to facilitate self-defense training and group counseling experiences for survivors. Currently, they meet every other week for peer supervision.

Weather the Storm

Jen: I don’t know how you feel but this morning I woke up with an emotional hangover. 

Lisa: Me too, I know how you feel. 

As psychologists, our bi-weekly peer supervision meetings are times when we share how privileged we feel to work with survivors who trust us enough to share their stories with us. We feel so fortunate to do work we feel passionate about and to be able to help clients on their healing journey. The relationship that we have built as colleagues and friends, allows us to feel nourished in the work that we do. 

We sat down to try to better understand the impact our work has on us, and single out the factors of our connection and process that help us to thrive as clinicians. In deconstructing that “emotional hangover” we notice feeling fatigue from absorbing an accumulation of intense emotion and powerful stories. We don’t simply hear these stories; we feel them in our bodies. One of the things we work on together is how to process and release these feelings in a healthy way. 

Our intention in setting up peer supervision was to provide clinical supervision and support but we realized that it has become so much more. It’s a space where we are able to share honestly about our successes and struggles. What helps to lift the hangover is to be able to share in a vulnerable way our moment to moment responses to what’s happening in our sessions. Both of us have noticed that by having this space to be vulnerable about personal reactions we feel more energized personally and professionally. 

What works well in our relationship is that we share similar values, skills and clinical interests, but have variations in temperament that lead us to challenge each other to go out of our comfort zone. In one conversation about boundaries, Jen joked that her tendency was to lead with “No” and Lisa responded that she was often too quick to say “Yes.” In exploring this we were each able to better understand our proclivities and experiment with being more flexible.

One of the ways we work is to check in with each other about what it is we are needing that day as a way of staying connected to ourselves and present for each other. What we realized is that sometimes it is just enough to know that someone else gets it and is there to listen - and to let you know that what you’re doing is enough. And on particularly hard days Lisa has asked Jen to just listen and say “You just need to weather the storm.” That is what we strive to do for our clients - be present, help them to feel understood and lend hope that the storm will pass.



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