This is the long version, but it’s worth the read – I promise!
It started about 20 years ago. When I returned from 2 years of learning in Israel and entered as a junior at Touro College in Manhattan. I realized very quickly that I needed to decide on a major, though I had no idea what specifically I wanted to do.
One night I was speaking to one of my Rabbis and explaining my confusion of what to do with my life. He asked a very important question, one that I still ask kids and clients today: “If you could do anything all day, what would you do? (In fact I think I asked that question here
a while back.)
My answer was easy. “I would color. Just give me a coloring book and crayons and I would color.”
With that, I made an appointment to meet the guidance counselor at Touro, Dr. Marian Stoitz-Loike, a woman who I now realize I owe all the thanks to, but have lost touch with…
As I explained my interest in the brain and how it worked, but knew I couldn’t do biology because of the chemistry and physics, I knew I wanted to study psychology. And, of course, I now knew I wanted to color. She asked if I had heard of art therapy.
My first introduction to the field of expressive therapies.
She told me she knew of an internship available at the Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, or maybe she knew there was an art therapist there already, this part is still unclear how it all came together – after all, why would a locked psychiatric ward want to take an unqualified college student without any background who was only interested in art therapy?!? That would never happen today!
Dr. Stiotz-Loike put me in touch with the art therapist there named Devorah Gotthold, who just happened to be Israeli.
I met with Devorah; she welcomed me onboard, and there began my introduction to art therapy. I stayed there 1 or 2 semesters, decided I wanted to be an art therapist, although also knew I wouldn‘t want to work in a psychiatric ward (why, is for another time.)
Fast-forward 10 years. I graduate from Lesley College in 1997 with my Masters in Expressive Arts Therapy. I thought it would be great to be in touch with Devorah again to thank her and let her know what I was doing. But searches on Google and other places were unsuccessful and I never found her.
When I made aliyah, I thought of Devorah again, and thought she had probably come back to Israel. But searches here were also unsuccessful.
As I began my private practice last year, I knew I needed a private supervisor. When I began working with the therapists at the Oasis center
, one of the art therapists referred me to a supervisor in Tel Aviv. I met with her several times, but something about our work together did not feel right, so I stopped meeting with her. At our first meeting, though, she had already given me a name of an art therapist in Jerusalem for me to call to locate some office space.
When as recently as last week, I received a referral for a client with very traumatic issues, I knew I could no longer put off finding a supervisor. I called Ofra who gave me the number for a Devorah Slipkin. Devorah and I played phone tag for over 4 weeks (with the holidays in between), but finally found a day to make an appointment.
I finally met with Devorah last week on Thursday. I found her cute little office in the basement of one of the buildings in the Katamon area of Jerusalem. She seemed nice enough as I sat down and began to introduce myself and tell my story. Nothing clicked immediately. I didn’t recognize her, nor did it occur to me that her first name should or could have any signficance.
As I spoke, her smile began to feel familiar, something about her seemed familiar. Then when she mentioned something about when she lived in NY, the energy in the room felt familiar. Something felt connected. So in the middle of a sentence I asked her. I figured I had nothing to lose.
“I know this is going to sound weird, but I feel like I know you. Did you ever live in NY?”
“Did you ever work at a hospital in the Bronx?”
“Yes, Montefiore Hospital.”
“Are you…by any chance… Devorah Gotthold?”
Her eyes widened, “Yes, I’m Devorah Gotthold Slipkin. I use both my names. Depending on who I am talking to.”
“I can’t believe it!” I raise my hands up to the ceiling. “Holy Mackeral! I have been looking for you for 20 years!”
She is now looking at me like I am crazy!
“I am Sarah Edelman. I was a student at Touro College in 1986/87. I was an intern at the hospital. You introduced me to art therapy. I am an expressive therapist today because of you. I can’t believe this!”
“You were very young then.”
“Uh, yeah! I was 19 or 20 years old. That was 20 years ago.”
“I learned so much from you. I am so thankful to you. This is crazy!”
We both continued to look at each, trying to remember each other’s faces and stories. The connection was there though. I felt it. We shared a little more of our personal lives since then. She returned to Israel in 1988. I shared that I was married with 4 kids, and made aliyah 3 years ago.
It knew it was the right match!
And there you have my story.
The same supervisor who introduced me to art therapy 20 years ago, and who I thought I would never find again; will now, hopefully, be my supervisor again, as I begin to build my private practice as a real professional woman and expressive arts therapist.
As Rabbi Kosman always says, there are no coincidences!
Great story, eh?