Collaborating Students,
Research Assistants

Shayna Herszage

Shayna Herszage is a recent graduate of Yeshiva University with plans to apply to graduate programs this year. In the lab, she codes FIS videos. Additionally, she codes transcriptions of Working Model of the Child Interviews and Life Story Interviews for defense mechanisms.

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Rachel is a first year student in the Clinical PsyD Program at Ferkauf. She graduated from Stern College for Women with a B.A. in Psychology. Her work in the lab includes coding defense mechanisms and facilitative interpersonal skills. Prior to joining the team, she helped research children’s development of social cognition at Stern College's Developing Minds Lab. She has also worked as a psychosocial rehabilitation counselor and is a volunteer crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line.

Rachel Baitch

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Dan Spina

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Tali Miller

 Tali Miller is currently a junior at Yeshiva University, pursuing a degree in psychology. As part of her work in the lab, Tali has been coding psychoanalytic therapy transcripts for coping mechanisms and cognitive errors. She is also part of the Facilitative Interpersonal Skills project, focused on identifying therapy skills in therapists.

Sarah Horne

Yuval Surpin

Yuval Surpin moved to New York from Israel. After graduating high school, she served in the Israel Defense forces for two years and she became a certified health and fitness trainer after studying at Wingate Institute. She is an honors psychology student at Stern College. After the completion of her undergraduate degree, she plans to continue to grad school and become a clinical psychologist. Healthy mind and body are a big part of her life and she wants to transfer her knowledge to as many people as she can.

Dan is a first-year student in the Clinical Psychology program at Penn State University in the Laboratory for Personality, Psychopathology & Psychotherapy Research, and is an external research assistant in our lab. He grew up in Fresno, CA and received his B.A. in Philosophy and French from UC Berkeley. He then studied at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology in New York in the Psychodynamic Process Research Lab, where he will receive his master's degree in
Clinical Psychology. He is broadly interested in psychotherapy process research and Transference-Focused Psychotherapy. He hopes to better understand therapeutic processes
that lead to greater attachment security and improved defensive functioning in patients with personality disorders. He is also interested in LGBTQ+ mental health and how clinicians might
better support patients struggling with BPD and sexual identity uncertainty. He loves fermenting foods, reading, jogging and listening to music.

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Caroline Pearl

Sarah is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology PsyD program at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. She grew up in NYC and received an A.B. in Psychology from Harvard University in 2019. Sarah is currently collaborating with Dr. Aafjes-van Doorn and other members of the lab on projects related to trauma, psychotherapy outcomes, and the therapeutic process in individual and group psychodynamic therapy. Her clinical work focuses on child and adolescent psychodynamic therapy, and she is currently an extern at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Westchester.  In her free time, Sarah enjoys reading, biking, and playing squash. 

Previous Collaborating Students

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Zhaoyi Chen

Zhaoyi is a fourth-year student in the Clinical Psychology program at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. She grew up in Changsha, China, and received her B.A. in Psychology from Grinnell College in 2014, and M.A. in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness from New York University in 2017. Zhaoyi’s research broadly pertains to psychotherapy process, telemental health, and cultural adaptation of psychotherapy. Her clinical experiences include providing individual and group therapy in person and via videoconferencing in English and Chinese. In her free time Zhaoyi enjoys hiking, scuba diving, and watching Chinese reality shows.

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Céline Kamsteeg

Céline has worked with us as an external Research Assistant. She has completed her B.A. in Social Sciences at University College Utrecht (the Netherlands) and her M.Phil. in Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge. She has co-authored several papers in the field of psychotherapy, for example in psychotherapy integration, a pilot study on dialectical behavior therapy, mediation of cognitive factors in the relation between adverse childhood experiences and adult psychopathology, and psychotherapy for personal growth. Her research interests include mediators of psychotherapy effectiveness as well as psychotherapy in the context of severe psychopathology.

Amanda Balakirsky

Amanda Balakirsky is a fifth year student in Ferkauf's Adult Clinical PsyD program and an intern at the NJ VA.

She is interested in psycho-oncology and geropsychology, with a particular focus on meaning-making, grief, and loss. She has been involved in cleaning and editing text analyses of Referential Process & Language Style Matching.

Kathy Portier 

Kathy is working at the lab as an external research assistant. She received her bachelor’s degree from University College Utrecht with a major in Psychology and Law. This year, she graduated from Utrecht University with a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. During her Master’s she has been able to work with different patient populations, including psychotic disorders, complex psychotrauma and bipolar disorder.


Kathy’s research so far focuses on the client-therapist interaction and attachment. Specifically, she is trained in the Patient Attachment Coding System (PACS) and she has coded a variety of transcripts to assess patients attachment based on in-session verbal interactions. 

Kathy has also co-authored a paper on dialectical behavior therapy in a psychoanalytic community clinic. 
Her research interests include transference-focused psychotherapy, psychotrauma, borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. 

Tzippora Topp

My name is Tzippora, and I’m from Los Angeles, California. I am a senior at Stern College for Women studying Neuroscience, and I hope to pursue a career as a Clinical Psychologist. I am excited to be part of the lab and am currently assisFng by ediFng therapy transcripts to prepare them for Language Style Matching as well as transcribing interviews of therapists’ experiences during the pandemic. In my free time, I love to draw, do yoga, and spend Fme with friends.

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Tova Boshnack

Tova Boshnack is a junior at Stern College for Women and pursuing a nursing major.  In the lab she reads transcripts of therapy sessions and codes them based on the quality of the real relationship (RR) present. She hopes to apply the skills she develops from observing in sessions to overall patient care in her future career.

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Shlomo Gittleman

Shlomo Gittleman has a BA in Psychology from Touro College and is currently studying Talmudic Law and Jewish Philosophy in Shor Yoshuv Institute in Lawrence, NY. He currently codes coping mechanisms and cognitive errors in Psychoanalytic therapy sessions. In his free time he enjoys fishing, exercising, and nature walks. He is planning to apply to graduate programs this year. 

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Sharon Khalil

Sharon Khalil is a junior at Yeshiva University majoring in psychology. In the Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Process Lab, she is coding facilitative interpersonal skills and the real relationship in psychoanalytic therapy. Sharon is excited to be gaining experience in the field of psychology from both a clinical and research perspective through the lab.

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Samuel Liebowitz

Sam is entering his second year as an undergraduate at Yeshiva University studying Psychology and Marketing. In the lab, Sam is coding the different coping mechanisms and cognitive errors the patient mentions during their therapy session. He is interested in continuing to research more about how patients cope with their problems, and to expand his knowledge in Psychology. Over the next few years, Sam will be figuring out whether he will be pursuing a career in clinical therapy. Sam enjoys continuing his religious studies, and hanging out with friends in his free time. 

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Caley Coughlan

Caley (Chana) Coughlan is currently a senior at Yeshiva University, pursuing a degree in psychology. As part of her work in the lab she has been coding psychoanalytic therapy transcripts for coping mechanisms and cognitive errors. In the next few years she is looking to pursue a graduate degree in psychology as well as travel and learn through hands-on experiences.