Judith Lebowitz

Experienced licensed bilingual clinical psychologist. No life is easy however, we can lessen unnecessary suffering by giving up outdated beliefs and defenses. To achieve greater satisfaction, success and even happiness. 

Some thoughts about myself and how I work  

Although I have been living in Paris for many years, I grew up in New York City, more precisely in Queens and Flatbush, Brooklyn.  I went to Barnard College, where I was an English major. My interest in psychology began with my desire to understand elements of my childhood and young adulthood.  I started as a patient with a strictly Freudian analyst whose technique of silence I experienced as hostile and needed a therapist who could create a warm relationship, talk and help me understand my difficulties. When I moved to Paris, I did find several therapists I liked working with. 

My Training

Before I did my D.E.S.S. (a clinical psychologist degree) in Paris, I studied two years at the Institute of Transactional Analysis in Paris (IFAT).  I was a patient in group therapy with several therapists and carefully observed how they worked with patients.  I attended several intensive workshops in France and Holland and was part of a therapeutic supervision group for several years, in which, we discussed our patients and their treatments.       

Experience

I worked as a therapist at the hospital of Pontoise for 12 years, in the Diabetology department, treating diabetic patients.  I have also had a small private practice with, for the most part, English speakers. I have been an instructor with executives for many years and have taught transactional analysis and communication theory for Réalisations Humaines, a training center here in Paris.

How I work

Perhaps the most important element in my work is listening to the patient and understanding the patient’s unique experience. 

So many patients tell me about their loneliness as children, with no one in their entourage who listened to them, or understood them.  

Childhood trauma is not necessarily a single event but can be daily misunderstanding and discounting by parents of what their child needs or how to love their child in a healthy way. Unfortunately, some parents undermine their child’s self esteem by indicating that they will never be good enough or that they must always be first in the class. Parents might want to protect their children, try to control the child’s experience, do everything for them, resulting in young adults who fall apart at any problematic event, when they set out on their own. 

Sibling relationships are also important and events, like bullying, can be very destructive during school years. 

So, in my work, I need to understand my patients’ experience of childhood and adulthood and foremost, how they interpreted their childhood, the conclusions they drew about others and life and how these conclusions become reality in their adult experiences. 

Often people think that they were bad children and deserved punishment…that there was something wrong with them, unable to find fault with their parents (because children need to find their parents wonderful and perfect).  

Children also adapt to parents and develop a false self, trying to please, not make waves, or say or do anything naughty. Later, in intimate relationships they don’t dare express dissatisfaction and become passive aggressive, holding in anger or criticism.  

There are many experiences which lead to damage of the self and feelings of unworthiness. Then it is important to understand how one’s childhood affects relationships later.  

Most of us have so many things to explore and so many emotions to express and maybe let go of…especially anger and sadness. Besides, so many patients are looking for the good or even perfect mother or father they didn’t have and try constantly to get their partner to make up for the inadequate parent or become the doting parent.  To be in “the here and now” and not in” the when and then” …is a difficult achievement…And yes, it is also important to find humor in one’s human predicament and be able to accept one’s imperfections and the dark side of the self. But acceptation and change are difficult and new scenarios with new dialogues, are not so easy to invent.  

We are all used to our own way of functioning even when it is self defeating…so learning new thoughts, behavior, and ways of relating are a challenge. 

As a therapist, I have that quintessential American quality, optimism, which means that I believe we can relate to each other and change in new, positive ways.  

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