Practicing for over 20 years, Dr. Julie Stewart, her husband, Daniel, and brother-in-law, Thomas, have their suburban therapy office in Ridgewood and a second location in Manhattan. "We each come at the mental health field from different angles and training, although we have a common experience in our modern psychoanalytic training."
Daniel is a psychiatrist who works with children, adolescents and adults. He began a private practice in Ridgewood in 2010, in order to work closer to home, while still keeping an office in Manhattan. He continues to teach and supervise residents at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC where he trained and worked as a psychiatry residency co-director.
Julie received her doctorate in clinical psychology and went on to specialize in school and neuropsychology, working with brain-injured individuals and their families in Manhattan before joining Daniel in setting up a psychotherapy and testing private practice here in Ridgewood.
Thomas obtained his doctorate in Social Work from Yeshiva University and now primarily provides psychotherapy with children and adults at the Manhattan office.
"We have always offered telephone treatment to those who could not travel to us, but we have now added a full 'tele-health' format (sessions offered by video-conferencing) for our practice to keep everyone safe," Dr. Julie explains.
When asked about the mental health concerns for the community, Julie addressed the physical strain and mental stress of front line workers and those staying home: "Many have lost loved ones amidst a storm of other intense emotions and have been unable to say goodbye or address unresolved conflicts, which can lead to a condition called complicated grieving. Essential workers, particularly those in the first response and medical fields, have had to face this virus head-on, pushing past fears for their safety, working tirelessly, and having to make excruciating life-and-death decisions. Many have not had the time to experience their emotions, let alone process them. Continuing to function this way over the course of months, even years, is unsustainable."
To answer the need, she recommends keeping to a routine, limiting time spend reading the news, enjoying meals, quiet time and being creative to maintain mental health. Most especially, finding ways to help others has been therapeutic. “It reduces the feelings of helplessness that can trickle up,” says Julie.
She has been providing free virtual stress reduction workshops in the community, as well as sharing psycho-educational material with community groups, schools in the area, and a NJ psychologists’ effort to assist statewide. (See www.NjPsychologistsCare.org for lots of helpful information.)
In a couple of weeks, she looks forward to joining a volunteer effort providing coping and resilience groups for healthcare providers and others in need in NY as part of the NY State Office of Mental Health Volunteer COVID-19 Initiative.
Daniel and Tom have both been volunteering in other ways—Daniel through Mount Sinai’s Psychiatry Department and Tom through the NYC Department of Health.
"We hope that people are able to find tools to get through this difficult time and that they get emotional support from those around them. Our spirits are raised by observing how, in the midst of crisis, so many people are giving their best."
For more on Drs. Stewart and their practice, please visit www.stewartpsych.com If you are a small business owner in Ridgewood or Montclair and would like to be part of our COVID Small Business Documentary Series, please see more details on the project at www.villagestudiophotos.com or follow on Facebook @Village Studio or Instagram @vsphotos_nj