The Taconic Counseling Group

Michael A. Westerman, Ph.D.


Michael A. Westerman, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, graduated from Harvard College, received his doctorate from the University of Southern California, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Denver. He has been a member of the Taconic Counseling Group for almost four decades. His practice includes work with adults and older adolescents in individual psychotherapy and couples therapy.

Dr Westerman has experience helping patients with a wide range of problems. His area of specialized expertise is problems in relationships, which often are the main reasons people seek therapy, but also often play key roles in other problems, such as anxiety, depression, and difficulties at work. In addition, the therapy relationship itself is a key part of all psychotherapy, and it has been shown to be one of the most important predictors of treatment outcome by a great number of studies of psychotherapy.

Dr Westerman was a tenured member of the core faculty of the Department of Psychology at New York University for 40 years until he recently retired from his position there. At NYU, he was engaged in teaching and research, and he served as the Director of Clinical Training of the doctoral clinical psychology program for several years. Dr. Westerman currently continues his research and theoretical writing on psychotherapy at the Derner Institute for Advanced Psychological Studies of Adelphi University, where he holds the position of Clinical Associate.

Dr Westerman has authored about 60 publications on psychotherapy and related areas of psychology. Currently, he is a member of the editorial board of the journal "Psychotherapy Research" and an editorial consultant to the "Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology." He previously served on the editorial boards of the "Journal of Counseling Psychology" and the "Journal of Research in Personality." Dr. Westerman is a member of the American Psychological Association, the New York State Psychological Association, the Hudson Valley Psychological Association, the Society for Psychotherapy Research, and the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration.

Dr. Westerman meets with people from Dutchess County and other parts of New York State via telehealth.

Current Interests

My current clinical and research interests focus on interpersonal defenses, which play a central role in most relationship problems and many other difficulties people struggle with. Iíve developed a theory about what these complex processes are like, why people engage in them, the problematic effects they have on relationships, why patterns of defensive interpersonal behavior often persist even though they have those negative effects, and what are effective ways to help people change those patterns in therapy. I have conducted many studies on these issues. My research on interpersonal defenses has enhanced my own clinical work.


Click here to see Dr. Westerman's video "Some Things We Know about Psychotherapy."

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