Richard Schwartz began his career as a family therapist and an academic at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There he discovered that family therapy alone did not achieve full symptom relief and in asking patients why, he learned that they were plagued by what they called “parts.” These patients became his teachers as they described how their parts formed networks of inner relationship that resembled the families he had been working with. He also found that as they focused on and, thereby, separated from their parts, they would shift into a statecharacterized by qualities like curiosity, calm, confidence and compassion. He called that inner essence the Self and was amazed to find it even in severely diagnosed and traumatized patients. From these explorations the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model was born in the early 1980s.IFS is now evidence-based and has become a widely-used form of psychotherapy, particularly with trauma. It provides a non-pathologizing, optimistic, and empowering perspective and a practical and effective set of techniques for working with individuals, couples, families, and more recently, corporations and and classrooms. In 2013 Schwartz left the Chicago area and now lives in Brookline, MA where is on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
W. Scott Griffies M.D., DFAPA, is currently an Associate Professor of Psychiatry with Duke Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Medical Director of the Psychosomatic Medicine service at Duke Raleigh Hospital. He is boarded in General Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and is certified in psychoanalysis from the New Orleans Psychoanalytic Institute. He recently relocated to Duke from New Orleans where he was faculty at LSU Department of Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine Fellowship for over 15 years. His main academic and clinical interest has been in the treatment and understanding of psychosomatic patients. While at LSU, he won numerous teaching awards and worked and directed services predominantly focused on psychiatric aspects of medical and surgical patients. He also served as the LSU Psychiatry Residency Director for 8 years through Hurricane Katrina. His most recent publication was “Non-mentalizing and Non-symbolizing Psychic Functions and Central Sensitization in Psychosomatic Patients”in From Soma to Symbol: Psychosomatic Conditions and Transformative Experiences, edited by Phyllis Sloate.
Rabbi Alexis Berk accepted the position of Rabbi of Touro Synagogue in the summer of 2008. Although raised in rural Massachusetts, Rabbi Berk is a southerner at heart. “I was surprised by how the softness and warmth of the South held so much immediate appeal.”Rabbi Berk graduated with Honors from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in June of 2000. Upon ordination, Rabbi Berk was awarded two prizes for sermon oratory. Following graduation Rabbi Berk served in Nashville as Congregation Micah’s first Rabbi Educator.In March of 2005, Rabbi Berk assumed the position of Hillel Rabbi at Vanderbilt University, but finding she missed participating in a congregational community, she left to join the clergy team at Temple Ohabai Sholom, as Director of Congregational Enrichment. It was a good move: the congregational setting was where she felt most at home. When the opportunity to serve as Rabbi of her own community in New Orleans opened up, she knew it was the right city and the right time.Rabbi Berk is honored to serve as the Rabbi of Touro Synagogue. “The complexity and texture of the New Orleans landscape illuminates the elemental beauty of the Touro community. The fact that Touro is a 180-year-old synagogue belies its strong desire for innovation and growth. The professional team and congregational leaders embody passion for this community – within the walls of the congregation and beyond. Resilience, interconnectedness, and strength are the core of this distinctive place.” Rabbi welcomes conversation about the uniqueness of this community.In 2011 Rabbi was chosen as one of Gambit Magazine’s “40 under 40,” – forty individuals under the age of forty whose skills and accomplishments have helped make New Orleans a better place to live and work.Rabbi Berk and her husband Bob live in Uptown New Orleans with their two young sons and their dog Russell, all of whom are frequent and welcome visitors in the office.