Therapy in NYC

NYC therapy has changed over the years. The distant and passive therapist who "just sits there" analyzing you is no longer acceptable. The same is true for the excessively empathetic therapist who "feels your pain" but has little else to offer in the way of guidance and direction.

What people seeking therapy in NYC are looking for these days is an effective, experienced and down-to-earth professional who integrates genuine caring and support with what is often referred to as therapeutic coaching: (1) shared clarification of challenges & obstacles; (2) focused, honest and direct feedback; (3) transparency and authenticity; (4) action-oriented approach that leads to productive strategies and desired results.

Within this context, there is much attention given to your emotional life, but it is all in the service of making your entire life better in practical and observable ways—internally and externally. The days of endlessly and unproductively talking about your childhood are over.

The starting point of effective therapy in NYC in the 21st century is this:

Of course you did not get all that you needed in childhood. And if terrible stuff happened, then together we will address that in a serious way to help you not only 'work through it' but grow beyond it. We will not let your past over-determine your future. Now, let's get to work on helping you build and create your life in ways that make you proud and excited.

historical development of therapy in NYC and beyond

NYC has always been of one of the major centers of psychotherapeutic thought and activity. Whatever research and developments occurred around the country (and the world) there was always a conduit of one type or another bringing those influences to therapists in NYC.

the development of therapy in nyc & beyond
Late 1800s
  • - 1879: Wilhelm Wundt founds the 1st formal laboratory for psychological research
  • - 1881: Sigmund Freud finishes medical school in Vienna.
  • - 1890: William James publishes "Principles of Psychology" at Harvard
  • - 1895: Freud and Joseph Breuer publish "Studies in Hysteria" in Vienna
  • - 1896: Lightner Witmer opens the first "psychology clinic" at the University of Pennsylvania
Early 1900s
  • - Freud's disciples were spreading psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic School of Psychotherapy throughout the world: New York (Abraham Brill); Berlin (Karl Abraham & Max Eitington); Zurich (Carl Jung); Budapest (Sandor Ferenczi); Toronto (Ernest Jones) [list compiled by Jonathan Engel in "American Therapy"].
  • - 1909: Freud had his one and only visit to the U.S. in 1909, accompanied by Carl Jung. They were invited and hosted by G. Stanley Hall of Clark University in Massachusetts.
  • - In 1911, A.A. Brill helped to found the NY Psychoanalytic Society and in 1931 began the 1st formal psychoanalytic training program in the U.S. — the NY Psychoanalytic Institute in Manhattan, NYC.
  • - In NYC and around the U.S., people with degrees in psychiatry, social work, psychology and nursing were increasingly providing rudimentary forms of therapy to children, war veterans and ordinary adults described as either "neurotic" or "seriously mentally ill." As with everything, class differences played a large role in who received what type of therapy and who worked with what population of people.
  • - Much of the therapy in NYC and other cities was taking place under the umbrella of social justice movements organized around "child guidance," "immigrants' rights," "veterans assistance" and "mental hygiene." It is arguable that psychoanalysis was a social movement of its own, albeit primarily for and by the wealthy.
Early to Mid 1900s
  • - Numerous psychoanalytic institutes were formed in NYC and other U.S. cities as institutions where therapy was provided alongside the professional training of psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic therapists – mostly people with post graduate degrees in psychology, social work and psychiatry.
  • - 1913: The birth of Behaviorism and the Behaviorist School of psychotherapy, when John Watson published "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It."
  • - 1948: B.F. Skinner published "Walden Two," a utopian novel supporting behaviorism's doctrine that human life is mostly determined by genetic and environmental stimuli rather than thoughts, feelings and inner life.
  • - Birth of the Humanist School of Psychotherapy:
    • a. Carl Rogers publishes "Client-Centered Therapy" in 1951
    • b. Abraham Maslow co-founds "The Journal of Humanistic Psychology" in 1961
Mid to Late 1900s
21st Century
  • - 2010: NY State formally regulated the term "psychotherapist," writing into law that one must be licensed by NY State in order to practice "psychotherapy" and/or call oneself a "psychotherapist."
  • - Cognitive behavioral therapy continues to grow and influence the reigning paradigm for therapy in NYC and beyond—while simultaneously being integrated with a relational perspective by many NYC therapists and other practitioners.
  • - Relational CBT is emerging as an integrative paradigm that encourages an ever-increasing integration of the cognitive, behavioral, emotional, relational & creative faculties of the human person. Taking center stage in Relational CBT is the human capacity for meta-cognition, or mindfulness, which is the activity of reflecting on and positively influencing one's own thoughts/feelings as a means to engaging constructively in interpersonal relationships and in life.

fundamental principles of effective therapy in NYC

People seeking therapy in NYC want results. Extended exploration of "issues" is no longer how therapy is seen by most people. More and more, it is becoming commonly accepted that:

  • Life requires that we actively cultivate healthy habits of the mind, healthy patterns of relating to ourselves and others and an action-oriented approach to life-building.
  • Central to happiness and success in life is the quality of our closest relationships.
  • Growth throughout life is a necessity. Life is too complex and busy in the modern world to think we can get by without lifelong learning and personal growth. Expecting that things will simply work out fine on their own is wishful and magical thinking.
  • An enormous reservoir of personal power lies in the human ability to pause, step back and make conscious/creative decisions about how we relate & respond to the internal and external realities of our lives.
  • Learning to manage/influence/shape your capacity for cognition (thinking), emotion (feeling) and action (behavior) resembles the process of learning to master a craft or an art form. The level of mastery you desire and attain is entirely up to you.
  • In order to be well and feel well, we must cultivate the habits of living well.
  • Whatever reality exists in any given moment (inside yourself, in your relationships or in the world)—you are responsible for how you decide to think about and relate to it.

what is it like to be an NYC therapist?

To practice therapy in NYC is to see life through a fairly unique lens. The diversity of background, culture and life experiences of people that I see in therapy is breathtakingly rich and varied. Over the years I have worked with writers, ex-convicts, venture capitalists, adults diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, fashion executives, single moms, domestic violence victims, trauma sufferers, surgeons, psychiatrists, unemployed dads, folks with anxiety and panic attacks, adults living in psychiatric hospitals, advertising executives, film-makers, drug addicts, young adults with trust funds, troubled teens, alcoholics, finance executives, folks with schizophrenia, couples in deep conflict, photographers, conflicted families, pregnant moms, academics, hoarders, prostitutes, design professionals, homeless adults, restaurateurs and more.

It is a privilege to be invited into the most personal aspects of people's lives and to see them grow in ways they could not imagine when they initially began to reach out for therapy. If I had to identify the issues that people seek help for in therapy, I'd have to say that, in my experience, people seek therapy in NYC for codependency and anxiety mostly, in addition to seeking therapy for relationship problems and couples therapy. Some colleagues share this experience, while others tell me that in their experience people mostly seek therapy in NYC for depression and anger management, or simply because they "just want to be happier."

No matter what issues people are seeking therapy for, at the core of all my work is helping human beings decrease pain and increase authentic personal power. Integrating fundamental principles from cognitive behavioral therapy and relational theory provides a robust set of tools with which to help people not only increase self-understanding, but to vastly improve how they are thinking about, experiencing and living their lives.

Chris Kingman | Therapy is located in Midtown Manhattan. For more information on therapy in NYC, contact:

Chris Kingman | Therapy
19 West 34th Street
Penthouse Suite
New York, NY 10001
212-501-4300 |