Michelle Y. Pearlman, Ph.D.

About Dr. Pearlman

Dr. Pearlman is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in helping individuals of all ages to live their best lives while learning from the difficult experiences that we all are exposed to. By examining these events openly and in a safe and comfortable fashion, we transform those troubling events into deep and significant resources that help us move forward in a healthy and enriched way. In addition to her private practice work at the Venn Center, she is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine.

Dr. Pearlman practices cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a therapeutic strategy that has been proven effective through scientific research. She works with individuals from childhood through adulthood to better cope with a wide range of problems and issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy is usually short-term, goal-oriented, and focused on working to resolve present-day problems in a step-by-step fashion.

Before joining the staff of the Venn Center, Dr. Pearlman was the founding director of the Trauma and Bereavement Service and the clinical director of the Institute for Trauma and Resilience at the NYU Child Study Center. She was also involved with the development and implementation of programming for children and families who lost loved ones during the terrorist attacks of September 11th. During this time, Dr. Pearlman became specialized in working with children and families through grief, trauma, anxiety and stress. She is the lead author of the book, Grief in Childhood: Fundamentals of Treatment in Clinical Practice, which presents her model for helping bereaved children and families.

Education and Training

B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, Cornell University

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, American University in Washington, D.C.

Post-doctoral work in grief, trauma, and anxiety, NYU Child Study Center

An Interview with Dr. Pearlman

You’re a “psychologist,” what does that mean?

Being a psychologist means that I completed a doctoral program and residency in clinical psychology. This involves a minimum of five years of graduate work and training, including a one-year full-time placement in a hospital or other clinical setting as well as a dissertation project based on original research. Upon receiving my doctorate, I completed two years of advanced post-doctoral training with children, adolescents, and their families.

What makes you different from other therapists?

I work collaboratively with individuals and families to create a plan to help based on their own needs and goals taking into consideration their life history, and personal characteristics. I continually check in to make sure that we are working together while moving in the direction of health and well-being.

In addition to advanced training with youth and their parents, I have specialized training working with people who have experienced loss. This might mean the loss of a loved one through death, but it also includes the grief and other feelings that people face through difficult situations like divorce, a change in career, a new school or living situation, or the diagnosis of a medical condition in themselves or a family member.

What is the key to helping people be well?

I think the key to helping people is to really meet them where they are at in terms of their own goals and desires for therapy. Every person changes at their own pace and it’s important for me to find the tempo, style, and strategy that best suits each individual. I do this in concert with them as treatment progresses.

What can a client expect when he or she meets you for the first time?

When people come to see me for the first time, it is my job to insure that they feel welcome and understood. I actively listen to where people are in their lives and where they want to go… and then do my best to facilitate that change while empowering them to own that change as they move forward in their life.

How can you make a difference in a person’s life?

Therapy should help you feel better, cope with your own set of life circumstances, and make progress towards your goals. These are the criteria that guide the way I work and they help me stay focused on what I need to do to keep moving in the direction of those goals.

Why would you encourage someone to come to the Venn Center?

The Venn Center is a place where people work in tandem with professionals who put a priority on helping individuals and families improve their lives. They do this by helping those individuals learn the strategies that will help them thrive and be well, whatever the situation they are facing. We have specialists on hand to help people across the lifespan to reach their goals and if not, we make sure to put you in contact with someone who can help.

What do you do to help yourself “be well?”

As a working mother, I have thought a lot about how to create a full and joyful life for my children and myself. For me, putting my family first but also finding time to do things that make me feel inspired and creative. These include my work as a therapist, my writing, spending time with friends, and my passion for books and films. I also find it helpful to use the same coping strategies that I teach in therapy, particularly taking the time to breathe deeply, pay attention to my own thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and to always remember to keep moving in the direction I respect, no matter what challenges life serves up.