Ilana Sancha, LMSW, received her Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University, with a focus in Family, Youth and Children. Ilana is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and comprehensively trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Problem Solving Therapy (PST), and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT). Additionally, she is trained in Parent Management Training (PMT), an evidence-based model that targets behavioral and attention-seeking behaviors of children by working with the parents and caregivers to develop structured parenting skills.
Ilana has an extensive background working with children, adolescents, young adults, and families. Prior to joining Hartstein Psychological Services, Ilana worked to implement a collaborative care model to integrate mental health services within New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation. While there, she worked in a primary care setting to provide therapy to adolescents and young adults specifically treating a variety of anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorders and grievance work. Ilana also worked at The New York Foundling’s Article 31 Mental Health Clinic where she provided trauma treatment to children and adolescents with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Ilana served as the Director of Elementary School Programming for the Educational Alliance where she created social and emotional learning programming in underperforming New York City schools. This included developing a mentorship program, creating interventions for high-risk students and focusing on young female empowerment groups.
Ilana believes that the importance of a therapeutic relationship lies in active listening, genuineness, and respect. She individualizes treatment to create a safe and empowering environment to achieve clients’ goals. Ilana uses these guiding principles to support her clients to promote healing, enhance functioning, and build self-reliance.
1. Why did you choose to become a therapist?
I always knew I wanted to be in the helping field. I spent the early part of my career working in schools where I focused on youth development and community-based programming. My work was leading me towards an administrative track. I soon realized I wanted to get back on the ground level to work directly with young people. I remember transitioning from programming to clinical work and thinking, “I can have a greater impact supporting people individually.”
2. What’s your favorite thing about being a therapist?
I love my job so there are many aspects that I enjoy! However, I think what is most unique is the opportunity to work intimately with an individual and be part of their growth and development.
3. What is your general philosophy and approach to helping?
“Meet the client where they’re at.” They are the experts themselves, not me.
4. If you weren’t a therapist, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
I think I’d have to say interior design. If you could see my apartment, you would understand. Honestly, I almost pursued it in college but then found out how much math is involved! I enjoy collecting art, textiles and ceramics from my travels and use them to decorate, inspire, and remind myself of all the beautiful and interesting places that exist in the world.
5. What do you do as self-care? (Mindfulness practices, exercise, etc.)
I’m big into exercise and try to be mindful of creating a balance in my physical activities. I regularly practice yoga and appreciate the level of concentration and meditation involved. I also enjoy running outdoors and connecting to nature in my surroundings. I’m one of those people you’ll see running outside with snow on the ground!
6. What’s your favorite quote or mantra?
“Be curious, not judgmental.” —Walt Whitman
7. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Oh gosh…there’s a lot of advice I’d give myself during my adolescence! I’d probably tell myself to slow down, there’s no rush to grow up.
8. If you could invite three famous people to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be?
Martin Luther King, Bob Dylan, and Frida Kahlo
9. What’s something you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of building and growing my family. I’m still somewhat new to being a mom and I never could have imagined the emotional rollercoaster it is! I am fortunate my heart is always full thanks to my 1.5 year old daughter, and my husband’s support and patience are unyielding. I work hard to teach not only my clients but my family as well, that understanding, honesty, compassion, and integrity are principles we should live by and strive for.
10. What do you wish other people knew about mental health?
It’s just as important to take care of as our physical health. We need to talk about it more, and it’s ok to ask for help.