ABOUT DR. MESSINA
I believe part of the process of solving problems––as well as coming to know about one's internal world––includes finding personal meaning in life. When people learn as much as they can know about themselves, this new self-awareness can lead to a different way of navigating in the world that can help them find a new and more optimal way of living; perhaps giving them the confidence to explore a different path in life, learn more about the road on which they are traveling or come to know more about their internal terrain that they never imagined was possible.
In the pursuit of learning about these ideas, I have had several different but related careers; each adding another dimension to my quest for knowledge about people. As a teacher, I have learned that there is great joy in seeing a child, teenager and even an adult discover something new for the first time; something that they then own, knowledge or an experience that can not be taken away from them. Individuals with learning differences are among the most rewarding people with whom I have worked. The skills and knowledge they acquire are major achievements. It is often these new learning opportunities that gives them hope and great joy.
Teaching adolescents in an inner city school and of those in their first years of college at local universities, I learned to greatly admire the excitement they have about growing up. Yet that exuberance is often accompanied by a great deal of anxiety about the future. For those who are away from home, often for the first time, it can a magical while also being a frightening period in life as well.
My observations and experiences while working with children, adolescents and adults, as well as my work as a Director of Counseling Services in a DC area University, peeked my curiosity about individual differences even further. It laid the ground-work for a deeper exploration of how I could continue my life-long wish to know, understand and help people with bright futures find and then continue on their own paths in life, hopefully armed with more tools to make the journey successful.
This led me to pursue a master's degree in special education with a focus on diagnostic prescriptive teaching and then a doctoral degree in Human Development that included a special track in abnormal psychology. These learning opportunities were followed by post-graduate work in testing and assessment. Since I wanted to deepen my understanding of my patients and myself, I continued to pursue this type of learning by attending 2 local psychotherapy programs and then psychoanalytic training.
Still curious about knowing, at an even deeper level, how best to help students who were beginning the course of analytic training, I competed the next process which included becoming a supervising and training analyst so I could teach people who had similar interest in helping patients; those who wanted to know more about themselves and their own potential as thoroughly as possible so they could help the people with who they work minimize emotional pain and learn about how to achieve what they want in life.
After over 30 years of professional experience, I have come to know and appreciate that learning something new each day about myself and about my patients helps people gain new insights about themselves and their internal world. It has and continues to be a great honor to help people in this way, i.e., as a collaborator, seeking together to develop a deeper understanding of themselves that most frequently leads to a richer life with new and more adaptive ways of navigating in the world.
I do this work in conjunction with family members, whenever possible, to help strengthen the person's support system. When family work is not feasible or the most optimal way to proceed, I help people develop new ways of creating other avenues of support, since relationships with other people contribute to a fuller and more meaningful life.