David Zerella is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and has been in the mental health field for several years dating back to his undergraduate days. He currently holds a Master of Social Work degree from Stony Brook University and is Licensed by New York State. As a LCSW, David provides psychotherapy, under clinical supervision, with a practical understanding of the systemic environmental and societal factors influencing individuals with mental health conditions. David is able to incorporate a strength-based social work perspective with many evidence-based psychological treatment practices, including mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
My fondness for cognitive behavioral therapy was sparked at a young age when I discovered the psychological works of Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). As an undergraduate, I first heard the phrase, “people are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of those things,” from my psychology professor. This was a phrase that would stick with me throughout my academic, professional, and personal life. Enthralled with psychology, I memorized my professor’s lectures, studied my notes with amusement , and purchased my first psychology book, “The Road To Tolerance” by Albert Ellis.
Following my undergraduate education, I quickly jumped into the mental health field where I worked in a residential program for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. It was in this setting where I learned to implement many of the concepts of REBT and CBT on a day to day basis. Moreover, it was a setting where the notion of teaching people independence and enhancing their ability to solve their own issues and conflicts was paramount. Eager to practice psychotherapy, I researched various degrees and educational programs before determining a Master of Social Work as the most pragmatic and efficient way to begin.
I have experience providing psychotherapy and social work services in various settings with individuals, adolescents, young adults, children, couples and families. At the heart of all of my work is a humanistic approach designed to assist others in developing more self-enhancing and independent ways for handling stress and adapting to surroundings.
Much of my professional success is possible due to my personal supports and self-care interests. My wife and I recently had our first child: a beautiful baby girl, which I always affectionately call “baby girl.” Additionally, I enjoy spending time with my whole family including my brother, sister, in-laws and parents.
Socially and recreationally, I enjoy sports including basketball and volleyball. “Sports provide a great social opportunity. We benefit from doing something while we socialize. My most meaningful conversations with friends, as a kid, where always when we were just outside shooting hoops.”
Prior to graduate school, I coached and refereed for youth basketball leagues, an experience which also offered direct insight into both adolescent psychology and intricacies of family dynamics. Nowadays, I can also be found on beach volleyball courts where I play weekly on a team with colleagues and friends.
I also enjoy writing, hip hop music, and stand up comedy. I credit my writing and love for linguistics to my mother. (My father gets credit for my initiative and work ethic). In regards to hip hop and comedy, I assert these as two of the most unfiltered art forms. “In both arts, it’s just someone and a microphone. It’s authentic and always struck me as very pure forms of free expression.” I also credit hip hop music as a way to connect with people across cultural and financial lines. As an adolescent, hip hop music was the trend, but my psychologically inquisitive mind also appreciated the ability of artists to take negativity and turn it into positives. That is, take a negative environment and use it as a way to be creative and resilient.
Similarly, my love for watching and listening to stand up comedians also influences my professional approach. I believe comedy is often inspired by the most difficult situations. “Laughter is the best medicine. Certainly we never want to laugh at someone but we definitely want to help someone to laugh. I love when my clients have a sense of humor; it illustrates their strength. It’s a way of saying that despite this challenge or obstacle in my way, I can still find a way to smile. I can laugh through this therefore I can live through this.“