Oona Caplan, LCSW, is a graduate of the New York University Silver School of Social Work, where she earned her Master of Social Work. She has worked for over 12 years at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC as part of the inpatient child psychiatry division specializing in emotional distress caused by trauma in early childhood and adolescents. During that time, she has also served as a teaching assistant at the Icahn School of Medicine training medical students in how psycho-social factors affect the outcome of psychiatric illness.
Oona has extensive experience in managing and stabilizing acute conditions, using a variety of therapeutic interventions, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Attachment theory, and family therapy. Oona has developed a nationwide network of behavioral and therapeutic resources that are used to guide families through short and long-term recovery.
Prior to her time at Mount Sinai, she participated in an HIV pediatric grant for children and mothers at Bronx Lebanon Hospital. She also spent time on the neuropsychiatry team at the New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Oona participated in the 2014 Collaboration for the Advancement of Pediatric Quality Measures (CAPQuaM) expert panel which focused on improving resources and services for children, primarily those in foster care. She also collaborated on an article in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology focused on Guanfacine as a Facilitator of Recovery from Conversion Disorder.
Oona is excited to be a part of the Hartstein Psychological team and sharing her professional experiences and resource network to determine the ideal course of action for each client.
1. Why did you choose to become a therapist?
I chose to become a therapist to effect change in others. It’s important that everyone understands there is always an opportunity to break learned patterns of behavior from our early childhood. And with the right kind of assistance, we can seek answers within ourselves and others, allowing us to embark on a journey to better ourselves.
2. What’s your favorite thing about being a therapist?
Believing that anyone can and will be empowered to find ways to mend old wounds, learn new ways of dealing with stressors and emerging a stronger, more confident & kinder individual.
3. What is your general philosophy and approach to helping?
I espouse the view, as John Bowlby stated: “The human psyche, like human bones, is strongly inclined towards self-healing.” I believe that therapy (a secure base) can help anyone overcome obstacles in life. We are not held back by our past and can change our current and future states.
4. If you weren’t a therapist, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
If I had not become a therapist, I would have wanted to become a Veterinarian. I love animals and have dedicated much of my time (both as a teenager and now as an adult) to dog rescue. As a child, I spent time at my extended family’s farm in Ireland and believe that rural life, surrounded by animals, would have combined my passions of animals, medicine, and caring for others.
5. What do you do as self-care? (Mindfulness practices, exercise, etc.)
I have always run as self-care. I was part of my high school’s track team and continue to run today. Running helps ground me after a stressful day by allowing me to focus on my breathing. I can appreciate my surroundings and engage all my senses as I run. It can be a reminder of the hurdles I have overcome and helps to focus on those in front of me.
6. What’s your favorite quote or mantra?
“Fear is inevitable, I have to accept that, but I cannot allow it to paralyze me.” — Isabel Allende
7. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
I would tell myself, “things are never as daunting as they seem. You have so much to look forward to. Do not despair.”
8. If you could invite three famous people to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be?
I would invite Isabel Allende, St. Angela Merici, and Margaret Atwood
9. What’s something you are most proud of?
Creating and coaching the first track team for my children’s elementary school, and winning 3rd place in cross country during their first year of competing will always be one of my proudest moments!
10. What do you wish other people knew about mental health?