Dr. Wiesel is an Assistant Professor of Psychology, and Director of the CBT Training Program within Psychiatry Resident Education CBT Program in the Psychiatry Residency Training at Icahn School of Medicine. She’s also an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
She has expertise in OCD and related disorders and uses strategies from CBT, including exposure and response prevention (ERP), mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to help people manage their symptoms.
Today, Dwellingright founder, Miriam Rapaport-Hindin, sat down for a second time with Dr. Tali Wiesel to explore more about her work, and why she recommends using Dwellingright to her clients.
Miriam: OK, question about your work, what aspects do you love the most about it?
Tali: That's like asking me to choose between my children.
Miriam: Haha, ok so what's the most rewarding thing?
Tali: I really like hearing people's stories. Everybody has a story. When these people come to me, the wheels start turning to figure out how everything kind of gels together. It's like pieces of a puzzle.
For example, here's how your childhood fits in with your deep-seated beliefs about yourself. This is how you cope with life challenges. Do your coping mechanisms reinforce your beliefs about yourself? And we see that play out in an everyday context in terms of your triggers, how you think about things, how you react to things emotionally and then behaviorally.
All these things are underpinned by your core beliefs, your coping mechanisms, the way in which you were raised and your community. Fitting those pieces together collaboratively with the patient and hearing their story is a big aspect of what I love.
Another aspect I love, is seeing evidence-based treatment work. I like being able to give people skills to help them understand what it is they're going through and struggling with. I like giving people education, which I think gives them a lot of power. After that, we figure out what process would work best for them, such as behavioral therapy or DBT, and then I give them a brief intervention for a few months, come up with a really good maintenance and relapse prevention program and then let the patient go fly on their own!
I always say to them - 'If you ever need me, I'm here, but you've got to do this on your own now and you have what you need to live your life'.
This is a very awesome part about what I do. To see measurable results that stick, is really fulfilling.
I once saw a patient who had seen several neurologists and he believed and said to me that nothing is ever going to work. He had a serious case and I thought to myself, 'oh, my God, how am I going to deal with this? This is such a serious case'. We worked on it together and at the end I said to him - 'So, how do you feel about being wrong? That the treatment worked? Are you OK with that?' And he said to me, 'I was hoping I would be wrong'. It was very sweet. It was amazing to see him do so great and now he's doing wonderfully.
Miriam: Wow, that sounds so fulfilling. It’s so inspiring to see you do such amazing work and help people change their lives.
Tali: Yes, I absolutely love what I do.
It makes so much sense to give a person psychological education. If you're able to break it down for patients by explaining to them - a) this is the function of the behaviors that you're engaging in, b) you don't have to feel ashamed that you say, pull your hair out, c) this is a disorder and there's a way to treat it - it’s really empowering for them.
This lever can be very helpful when people first get a diagnosis. It's especially true for a lot of older people (not to generalize at all!) or people who come from families where they don’t like to talk about these things, where the diagnosis stage can be very hard. It's a bitter pill to swallow.
To be honest, it doesn’t matter what label or category you want to place things in. If you're struggling, you're struggling. Now say you want to call it ADHD. If that works for you, great. If you need to find a community to help you face your struggles and the community with this association helps you, then that's wonderful!
Miriam: What would your advice be to someone who's never been diagnosed with anything in their life, but has a suspicion that they're neurodiverse and have challenges on this front?
Tali: It's a good question. I would say that you should figure out what you're struggling with. What is it that you're having problems with?
Make yourself a little list and then do the research. Do some Googling. It's not a commitment at all.
And then go see if you would benefit from talking to someone. You could just go and talk to somebody to get an evaluation. Going to see a psychologist is not a commitment. You don't have to go for a bunch of sessions. You can go to a consultation, get their professional opinion and assessment, and make a plan.
From there, it's up to you what you want to do with it. I have plenty of people that just like to come in for an opinion, and I think that whole process is less intimidating to people. After that you could also get recommendations from the person you went to see, such as, potential books to read, other useful psychiatry contacts, medication etc. This would be very helpful.
It's hard to research everything all on your own. There are people out there who specialize in this, went to school for this, and have all the knowledge that can help you.
Miriam: I know you’ve used Dwellingright and recommended it to your patients - what do you think about it as a tool?
Tali: I think it's great. I think it really helps people get their act together.
I think life has become very messy and very overwhelming as the expectations of adults have grown to an unmanageable degree. Especially when you have kids. Even if you don't have kids, there are still a lot of things going on all the time.
Things will inevitably slip through the cracks and you'll only realize it after problems develop from it. It really helps to remind you of these things, and it also teaches you. I learned some things from Dwellingright about my home that I didn't even know I had to do! Like cleaning the gutter. I didn't realize that's a thing I have to do!
I've always sort of prayed for a manual on how to be an adult or how to be a homeowner. I don't know if there is one, but if there was something, I would read it. Dwellingright is so great because it’s saying, 'here's a checklist, here's how often you need to do that'. So, it's really helpful for me personally.
Miriam: What particular aspects of Dwellingright make it helpful for your clients?
Tali: I think a lot of people live their lives on their phone, and so to expect people to carry around a to-do list is a bit too much. I do have people set reminders in their phone, but if you can have everything in one place it’s much better, so you're not constantly toggling between different apps.
There's an app for everything, right? So, if you have different apps for different things, you're not going to remember everything. You need something that is easy and simple and obvious, otherwise your routine and process is really just going to fall apart.
There are many products that are also made in a microcosm, by people who don’t relate to specific types of users. For example, there are a lot of products for neurotypical people, but sometimes the neurodiverse users' wants and needs are just ignored.
I think that having everything with a simple layout is really helpful, as well as the different category suggestions it proposes that you might need. For example, I'll take photos of important papers that I’ll want to use later. However, I have a camera roll of around 6000 photos. There's no way I'm going to find it later. It's just lost forever. Forget it, I'm not scrolling through 6000 photos to find that document. But if there is a subfolder for that picture where I can easily find it, it makes my job a lot easier. That’s one superpower of Dwellingright.
It makes my life a lot easier. Also, I love how you can add your own categories and personalize it, too. It makes it really easy to manage everything.
Miriam: Thanks for speaking to us again, Tali! We absolutely love the work that you're doing and can't wait to speak soon on more topics.
If you're interested in finding out more on Dr. Wiesel's work, you can find her here.
About Dr Tali Wiesel
Dr. Wiesel completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University. She completed her internship training at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and postdoctoral fellowship at the Zucker Hillside Hospital of Northwell Health with a focus on OCD and bipolar disorder. Dr. Wiesel is an expert in CBT and is a diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. She is licensed in New York and New Jersey.
This interview was brought to you by Dwellingright, the app that helps you stay one step ahead in life. Download Dwellingright on iOS and Android today.