Meet Randye E. Cohen, Parenting Columnist

Children's Health

Sometimes we come to crossroads in life. Sometimes we don’t know which way to turn. And sometimes we need a little help dealing with what brings us to the crossroads and choosing the path that works best for us. Providing that help is what therapist Randye E. Cohen has made her life’s work.

“I love talking with people — listening to their stories and struggles and helping them find their way,” Cohen said. She has a doctorate in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany, is a lecturer in the department of psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Hitchcock Medical Center and has a private practice in Norwich, Vt.

An English major in college, she felt drawn to characters’ stories and the descriptions of their lives. “My literature professors inspired me, as they were using psychological interpretations of literature,” Cohen said. “I found that approach to understanding characters, their motivation and change fascinating.”

In her practice, Cohen likes to use a relatively new type of therapy with her patients called a narrative approach. With this approach the psyche is viewed as a story that can be revised. The therapist’s role is to help people re-author stories that aren’t doing them justice and, by doing that, change their lives for the better.

“I don’t think of myself as offering guidance — and I don’t give answers. I see myself as more of a collaborator,” she said. “My role is as a listener and a question asker. Sometimes I can ask a question that might help someone see something in themselves they never saw before.

“It’s very special and wonderful to be trusted and confided in and then to be able to offer help — whether it’s in finding a way out of a situation or simply by walking a bit with someone on their journey — and bearing witness to their struggle,” Cohen said.

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