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Irina Firstein, LCSW Background And Experience

I have been providing counseling and therapy to individuals and couples in New York for over 30 years.

My work with Couples is based on Attachment Theory, and I heavily rely on the Emotionally Focused Therapy model. My point of view is that we, human beings, are wired for attachment to other people and particularly to a partner in life. Our attachment style is informed by the relationship with our caregivers. In seeking a romantic partner we hope to repair the attachment issues we have or had with those caregivers, usually parents. Each partner in a relationship comes in with a particular attachment style, whether that be anxious, avoidant or disorganized etc.. How the styles of each partner interact creates negative cycles, which couples refer to as “communication problems”. The goal of good couples therapy is to identify and understand what triggers these negative cycles and the emotions, which cause behaviors that drive them into escalation. Then through vulnerable conversations these cycles deescalate.

I have been studying this model for the past 10 years and I find it to be the best approach to working with couples.

My approach with Individual clients is trauma informed. The model I use is EMDR.

Our lives are shaped by our experience with important relationships, starting with family of origin. Since we are all imperfect as people, we are all traumatized by even those who love us. There are mis attunements, ruptures, rejections, losses and other attachment traumas that occur throughout our lives. There are other traumatic experiences at work, school, as well as in other areas of life.

The theory behind EMDR is that these experiences get lodged in our bodies and psyches and continue to drive our experiences consciously or unconsciously. Through EMDR, we can clear them from our nervous systems and experience our lives in the present moment, rather than through a trauma lens. This way of processing trauma is very effective and efficient.


  • Masters Degree in Social Work, New York University, 1984
  • Bachelor Degree in Psychology, Antioch University, 1981


  • NYCEFT – Externship (6/24-6/27/2013), Core Skills (May 3, 2014), Beyond Core Skills Modeul 1 and 2, trainings in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
  • Individual and Group Supervision and Trainings in various areas of EFT (20014-present)
  • New York Open Center – Certificate program in EMDR
  • Karen Horney Clinic – 2 year Program in Dynamic Psychotherapy
  • Washington Square Institute – Certificate in Group Psychotherapy
  • New York Hospital, Payne Whitney Clinic – Internship and Training on Depression Research Unit.


Private Practice, New York, New York (1985-present)

  • Specializing in treatment of individuals and couples.

New School For Social Research (5/1999 – 6/2002):

  • Staff therapist at Student Health Services. Assessment, referral, and brief counseling with students at the University.

Consulting Health Care Systems, New York (1/1994-7/1999):

  • Part-time therapist. Development of provider network, assessment, screening and referral of Russian speaking clients to therapists.

American Express, Employee Assistance Program, New York (9/1994-4/1996):

  • Part-time Employee Assistant Counselor. Assessment and Referral services. Crisis intervention and brief psychotherapy with American Express employees.

Cornerstone Treatment Center, Chemical Dependency Program, New York:

  • Director of In-Patient Detoxification Program (7/1988-8/1992)
  • Director of Social Work (8/1992-6/1995)

Phoenix House, Inc (10/1985-5/1986):

  • Admissions office. Senior admissions counselor. Intake, assessment, and evaluation of potential admissions. Crisis intervention around drug and alcohol abuse, family intervention and outreach with other treatment facilities.


Irina has been named as one of the “9 Best Therapists of 2015″ by DatingAdvice.Com.


Numerous Corporate speaking engagements at American Express and Lehman Brothers on Stress Management, Teamwork, Working with Difficult People.

Sessions available in person, by phone or on Skype.