Christine LaCerva, M.Ed.
Christine LaCerva, M.Ed. is director of the Social Therapy Group in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and clinical director of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy Therapist Training Program. A talented clinician with a background in special education and performance, Christine leads a large group practice that includes clients from ages 4 to 84. With Fred Newman, the late founder of social therapy, LaCerva has worked for over 30 years to advance a philosophically inspired performatory approach to emotional development, helping clients build environments (everywhere) for emotional growth. Her multi-family groups have explored unexpected new ways to support the development of families whose children have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. Christine completed her graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University in community psychology and special education (including education of the deaf) and has a performance background in dance.
Barbara Silverman, L.C.S.W.
In addition to 35 years’ experience as a clinician who clients describe as “dynamic and bold,” Barbara Silverman has pioneered the use of a performance-based development therapy in transforming the relationship between emotionality and health. In this process, she has been especially helpful to women suffering from eating disorders and people with chronic illnesses. Barbara is the director of GloboTherapy, a weekly online social therapy group with people from all over the world. She is also nationally recognized for her work with teenagers, and has created an array of innovative programs for community-based agencies, mental health centers and schools, including the ground-breaking “Let’s Talk About It,” mental health program at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. Barbara has provided training, clinical consultation, program and staff supervision for numerous community-based organizations, been a guest lecturer at Hunter College, Lehman College, Touro College, Adelphi University, and Columbia School of Social Work, and made numerous conference presentations on her work over the past 15 years. Barbara is on the faculty of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy and received her M.S.W. from the Adelphi School of Social Work.
Hugh Polk, M.D.
Psychiatrist and social therapist Hugh Polk, MD, leads social therapy groups at our center in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He works with his patients as partners in creating their cure, focusing on health and growth rather than illness and symptom control. Dr. Polk completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University, received his M.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and did his psychiatric residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is on the faculty of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy, and has led numerous workshops and presentations on social therapy at conferences in the U.S. and around the world.
Rafael Mendez, Ph.D.
Rafael Mendez has brought a practical philosophical perspective to his work as a social therapist for over 10 years. He is widely respected for his ability to help clients see how the ways they talk with each other prevent them from being more intimate with the people they love. In addition to his clinical work, Rafael is an associate professor of psychology at CUNY, hosts the Brooklyn Social Therapy Group’s Community Educational Series, and serves on the board of directors of the All Stars Project, a nationally-recognized youth development organization. Along with Lois Holzman, Rafael co-edited Psychological Investigations: A Clinician's Guide to Social Therapy, a compendium of philosophical conversations with social therapy founder Fred Newman. Rafael is on the faculty of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy and has served as a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital. He received his doctorate in clinical community psychology from Boston University. He is also the assistant coach of a little league team in Brooklyn.
Rachel Mickenberg, L.M.S.W.
Rachel Mickenberg, L.M.S.W. is a social worker and talented social therapist who helps adults explore/discover who they are in the world — the ways in which they think, talk and act that undermine their capacity to fully embrace life. She helps build creative therapeutic environments in which people can grow emotionally, develop new ways to respond to challenging situations, and create the lives they want to live. Rachel is a co-founder of the High School for Public Service, a unique and innovative public high school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn where young people grow and develop emotionally in groups. She works creatively with them to perform in unanticipated ways, stretch ahead of themselves, and create the kind of environments that support and promote their emotional growth and development and in which they can accept responsibility for their decisions. Rachel is a graduate of the Hunter College School of Social Work and received her advanced training at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy. She is a social therapist on the staff of the Social Therapy Group in Brooklyn.