Alison Trenk, MA, LCSW, has practiced as a licensed psychotherapist specializing with adolescents, young adults and couples for over 10 years. Alison is an intensively trained, DBT adherent therapist. She works within a supportive relational framework and incorporates varied modalities, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Alison also provides couples therapy for people looking to deepen their connection and/or repair their relationship.
Alison received her BA in psychology and criminal justice at Rutgers University. She went on to pursue her Masters in Psychology at Kean University and Masters in Social Work at Hunter College. Alison then completed the 2-Year Post-graduate Adult Treatment Program at the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and 1-year Imago Relationship Therapy Training. Presently she is attaining a Doctorate in Social Work at Simmons University.
Prior to working with Hartstein Psychological Services, she worked in a supervisory clinical role and as a consultant at agencies such as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Center for Court Innovation, SAKHI for South Asian Women, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, Safe Horizon, and Northside Center for Child Development.
1. Why did you choose to become a therapist?
I always wanted to pursue a helping profession. At one point in my professional career, I worked for a domestic violence shelter. At that time I was in law school and believed that I wanted to work with victims of interpersonal violence in a role as an attorney. After my first year working there, I realized that while I could represent a person in a court of law, the clinical team at the shelter was doing far more helpful work. They were helping the residents at the shelter with self-growth. It was work that helped people gain sustainable skills but more importantly sat with them in their time of need. It just felt like far more meaningful work. I left law school and started graduate classes in psychology the following year.
2. What’s your favorite thing about being a therapist?
The people. I truly care for the people that I work with. When you are on the other side of the therapeutic relationship as the therapist, you bear witness to a person’s life in a very unique way. I find my clients inspiring, strong, resilient, incredible humans. It is such a privilege to watch them grow, share in their joys and sorrows, and to create a safe space to be seen.
3. What is your general philosophy and approach to helping?
I like to support people to help themselves. It needs to be about them, not me.
4. If you weren’t a therapist, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
After I left law school, my road to becoming a therapist was not linear. I have worked really interesting and colorful jobs/careers in my life (which is a story for a different day). They were all part of my journey. Therefore, the truth is I am exactly where I would like to be as a therapist.
5. What do you do as self-care? (Mindfulness practices, exercise, etc.)
I work really hard to try to be present in my life (i.e. Mindfulness). It is so easy to get caught in your thoughts and distractions, however my real joy comes from the little things, such as walking my dogs, slowly eating the dinner I prepared, getting to bed early, and letting the sun shine on my face.
6. What’s your favorite quote or mantra?
“Breathe in love, exhale fear.” –Gabby Bernstein
7. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Oh man, I wish I had the DBT skills at 16. I was always so anxious. I would give her a big hug and tell her that I can promise that it will all work out.
8. If you could invite three famous people to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be?
Ok, I have to pick people who passed, because how can I pass an opportunity to raise the dead? Therefore, I am going with Buddha, Jesus, and Martin Luther King Jr. I feel like they all could answer some pressing questions I have.
9. What’s something you are most proud of?
My vulnerability. This has taken a long time and a lot of work. The truth is, I am a work in progress. However, I grew up with tons of shame around this part of myself, and I now no longer hide from it.
10. What do you wish other people knew about mental health?
It is just as valuable as our physical health. We are human beings navigating a very complicated world. All of our thoughts and feelings deserve to have a space to be looked at without judgment, validated and held with curiosity and compassion.