Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.
Therapist, Ph.D, LMHCReach out
Reach out to Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.
The Self is in everybody. . . the Self cannot be damaged, the Self doesn't have to develop, and the Self possesses its own wisdom about how to heal internal as well as exteral relationships.
Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.'s style🙌 Affirming 🥇 Empowering 🙏 Spiritual
Why Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D. chose to be in the helping profession
The Quote above was by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz, founder of Internal Family Systems. When I discovered this method of doing therapy, my clinical Self was, perhaps for the first time, totally aligned with who I am. You see, my journey into the helping professions was an an unintentional rebellion against conventional approaches. For example, in college, a research project on the treatment of patients in mental hospitals pointed to an issue that disturbed me—the prevailing "we-know-what's-wrong-with-you" attitude among staff, including doctors. This approach struck me as disrespectful to the patients and a contributor to their lack of well-being.
After obtaining a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling, a similar clash occurred. While seeking employment, I interviewed at a rehabilitation center for teenagers, where I maintained that adolescents resorting to drug abuse were likely grappling with profound suffering underneath their bravado. Unfortunately, my interviewers thought that these young individuals were manipulative and called my approach too lenient.
It was only at the urging of my husband that I considered applying to a doctoral program that might be aligned with my views. Reluctantly, I gave in, expressing concern about our four children and who would make dinner for them. He convinced me that they would not go hungry while I pursued a program that was based on the idea that people's difficult behavior often stems from adverse experiences, not inherent flaws.
Another lens through which to view my journey is that I didn't set out to "help" people in the conventional sense; rather, I wanted to understand them. This distinction, I believe, shapes the success of therapy. I believe that individuals possess inherent inner resources to heal themselves, provided they receive understanding and empathy from someone genuinely invested in their well-being. In essence, my journey is a testament to the transformative power of empathetic understanding in fostering self-discovery and healing.
Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.'s approach
At the core of my therapeutic philosophy is the belief that each person has a divine spark. This perspective guides my understanding that unacceptable behavior developed to help children cope with difficult, perhaps even traumatic, circumstances. While these coping strategies may have served them in childhood, they often become obsolete and hindering in adulthood. Therefore, the initial goal of therapy is to assist individuals in uncovering their authentic, undamaged selves beneath these automatic reactions.
The second objective involves illuminating the origins of these defense mechanisms. By acknowledging the circumstances that led to their development, individuals can release themselves from self-blame and the burden of shame associated with persisting behaviors. As they witness their younger selves and the choices made, the grip of unwanted behaviors begins to loosen, allowing the inherent divine spark within them to reassert itself.
The third objective extends to couples and families who have individually engaged in this introspective process. The aim is to facilitate healthy conversations now that the true selves of each member are no longer overshadowed by automatic defense mechanisms.
Avoiding judgment is paramount to me. Unless necessary for insurance paperwork, I dislike labeling individuals with diagnoses. The notion of diagnosis, in my view, tends to assign blame to individuals already grappling with life's burdens. Even if behaviors fit a particular diagnosis, I do not believe the diagnosis caused the behaviro; rather, it simply describes it. The root causes, I believe, were childhood events that led to the coping strategies.
What you can expect from sessions with Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.
In the realm of couples and family therapy, my focus lies in creating a space where members can join together without succumbing to automatic coping mechanisms. With the respectful permission of those involved, our collaborative efforts aim to unveil the childhood moments that gave rise to these defense strategies.
In doing so, clients are offered the profound opportunity to extend grace, kindness, and love to themselves for navigating the challenges of their formative years. When this process unfolds within the embrace of the family, its impact is twofold—it serves as a healing experience in itself and deepens the bonds among family members who bear witness to vulnerable moments.
In instances where the distress of the couple or family members is too high to work together in the same session, I conduct Individual sessions with each participant embarking on the journey to understand their true selves and unravel the origin and power of their defense mechanisms.
The therapeutic process involves gently revisiting the past, not to relive it but to understand that their defenses were sensible responses to challenging circumstances. Once each person undergoes this healing process individually, they can then reunite to forge meaningful connections with one another.
Whether in collective or individual sessions, the overarching objective remains—to foster understanding, self-compassion, and the restoration of familial bonds through a journey that delicately navigates the complexities of the past.
Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.'s experience working with the Jewish community
As part of my doctoral program's licensure requirements, I dedicated significant hours to supervised practice. I therefore approached a Rabbi with a proposal to start a counseling program at his shul, a venture that was successful.
This initial collaboration unfolded around 30 years ago, marking the beginning of my work within the Jewish community through my private practice. Since then, my commitment to serving the community has remained steadfast, contributing to the well-being of individuals within this cultural context.
Dr. Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.'s Book Recommendation Zone
People I work withAdolescents (13-18) Individuals Couples Families
Personal religious affiliationsOrthodox
Jewish community experienceExtensive
Licensed to work inNew York
Where people can see me in personFar Rockaway
770 Empire Ave, Far Rockaway, New York
30 years in practice
- MHC by New York 2010. License number 004678
- Ph.D by Nova Southeastern University 2001
- M.A. by Drake University 1978
- B.A. by Queens College 1970
- Level 1 IFS by The Internal Family Systems Institute 2021
- EMDR by Jennifer Sweeton 2019
- Memory Reconsolidation by Jules Taylor Shore 2023
- American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists by aamft 1992
Average costs per session
What my clients have to say about working with me:
"I've been able to see people in a light I hadn't seen before. I can see that they're hurting....DrDeb is a great coach and mentor...Her candor with compassion has been wonderful."
"I thought it was very interesting to change my thinking of my childhood which will then change my whole life. I thought, 'This is really good!' because I have anxiety and I thought, 'This will calm my little girl.' Also I'm owning my stuff, taking responsibility."