Spencer Biel portraitTreatment Specialties and Clinical Interests: I am a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise treating individuals, couples, and families, and consulting to groups.  Over the past 15 years I have worked in outpatient clinics, hospitals, residential treatment centers, and in private practice.  I specialize in addressing how people's struggles are intimately connected to their familial and social environments, both as encountered and held in mind.  I am particularly interested in how we form patterns of thinking, relating with others, and expressing emotions, and in the steps necessary to change these patterns when they are unfulfilling.  

In my work with children and adolescents, I address the developmental tasks facing all family members.  When children seem stalled or emotionally burdened, in addition to attending to apparent deficits, I consider interferences to them applying their resources.  Often, a child’s struggles are in response to family transitions, heightened vulnerability in a sibling or parent, marital discord, or a parent’s stress as the child approaches a developmental stage that the parent had difficulty navigating as a child.  Holding this framework in mind when working with children and adolescents, and mobilizing family therapy when appropriate, contributes to all family members expanding their curiosity and utilizing their capacities.  

Clinical Approach: In my view, people seek treatment either because there is something they want to change about themselves or something they are struggling to bear.  Symptoms often represent efforts to manage and communicate overwhelming experiences.  For example, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, irritability, and irrational thinking are signals, or coded messages, requiring careful consideration and translation.  Psychotherapy provides an opportunity to bring what is overwhelming and confusing to another person so that over time it can be tolerated, understood, and situated in its proper context.  In turn, people discover more freedom and agency in the choices they make.

Education: After completing doctoral training at George Washington University, I pursued an internship at Montreal General Hospital.  I then participated in a four year fellowship in advanced psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalytic studies at Austen Riggs Center, where I remained on staff for eight years. While at Riggs I became the Associate Director of the Therapeutic Community Program, provided and supervised individual psychotherapy and group consultation, developed an outpatient assessment service, and worked with families.  I also taught seminars at Riggs on child development, group consultation, and erotic transference, and at the Yale Child Study Center on childhood precursors of adult mental illness.

Women's Process Group

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