We sat down with Sarah Goldstein, a clinician and supervisor in JCCA’s Child-Parent Psychotherapy program, to learn more about her career and a connection to JCCA that dates back to before she was born.

I was raised in Westchester and aware of JCCA as a child. The value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, was infused into my upbringing. I volunteered on the Pleasantville Campus with my synagogue. Interestingly, my connection to JCCA started well before I ever stepped foot on the campus. My grandmother, Dr. Judith Lissauer Cromwell, immigrated from Germany as a child and later became an executive and author. She was encouraged to become a JCCA Trustee by her friend, JCCA’s longtime President of the Board, Howard Blitman. While on the board in the 1980s, she focused on fundraising and helped develop JCCA’s grant-writing capacity.

Independent of this family history, I started developing dreams and plans of my own. From an early age I knew I wanted to work in mental health. Even if I didn’t yet understand exactly how that would manifest, I was passionate about supporting children and families in need. I was particularly interested in family work and I took any opportunity I could––either hands-on or academic––to better understand the effects of family dynamics. While in college, I enhanced my knowledge through a myriad of internships and volunteer positions, working in a range of settings from elementary schools to nursing homes. My undergraduate thesis focused on the impact of childhood trauma on expectations of relationships as adults. I looked specifically at the role attachment theory plays in our everyday relationships and interactions.

Upon completing college, I knew that I wanted more experience in the world of family therapy and trauma. JCCA seemed like the perfect next step. I ended up as a Case Worker in Foster Home Services in Brooklyn. The work was eye-opening and I loved it instantly. I found myself moved by the families and motivated to help them find a way forward.

I went to grad school as planned but came right back to JCCA after earning my degree, this time in Preventive Services in the Bronx. After a year, our contracts with ACS changed and a new model was introduced: child-parent psychotherapy. This was the model I never knew I wanted to practice––the model I’d always been looking for. It builds off of everything I believed in and had studied in terms of family dynamics. It was meant to be.

I recently enrolled in a doctoral program, hoping to take another step forward on this path. I want to keep growing as a clinician and supervisor. In the long term, I want to look beyond my own practice and make an impact on policy. There can sometimes be a disconnect between what happens of the ground between vulnerable families and service providers, and what happens on the level of funding and governmental priorities. I believe policy needs to value the work being done in this space and the real difference it makes.