Rotem Brayer, MEd, LPC, joined the JFS Refugee Mental Health department in December 2015. He grew up in Israel and moved to Massachusetts in 2007 to earn a master’s in education at Cambridge College. While in Boston, he worked at a community mental health center providing therapy for people with chronic mental illness, addiction, stress, or other issues.
He specialized in addictions, especially helping people in their 20s with behavioral addictions such as gaming and the Internet. While he didn’t specialize in working with refugees, he got referrals for clients from other countries and could easily relate to them since he didn’t grow up in the United States.
Rotem and his wife moved to Denver in 2015 for the mountains and quality of life. Before starting at JFS, he worked at Aurora Mental Health. In JFS’s Refugee Mental Health department, he sees adults from many war-torn countries, including Iraq, Congo, Iran, and Afghanistan. Rotem helps them with anxiety, depression, and adjustment issues.The clients he has seen so far have been in this country for anywhere from a month to eight years.“So far I love everything about working at JFS,” says Rotem enthusiastically. “The work environment, my coworkers, and of course working with the clients have been wonderful.” He adds that he was attracted to this job because “I am interested in different cultures and relating to people’s experiences when they are coming from other countries.”
Deborah (Debbie) Goodman, LCSW, joined the Jewish Family Service Mental Health Specialists team in February 2016. Originally from Denver, Debbie left in her 20s and lived in several states before landing back in Denver more than two years ago. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Colorado, followed by a master’s degree in applied early child development. She earned a second master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.Debbie spent the majority of her career working with children; she counseled pregnant and parenting teens at an adolescent healthcare clinic, served as a Jewish educator and preschool teacher, and worked with foster care children. About four years ago, she started working with adults at two different mental health centers and discovered she really liked it because they could make decisions about their lives.
Her area of expertise is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (referred to as “ACT”), a cognitive behavior therapy that helps people gain skills to manage their symptoms so those symptoms don’t stop them from leading a value-laden life. “I am so passionate about this type of therapy,” Debbie says. “It is so effective and I have seen it turn people’s lives around! We’ve spent years thinking people had to get rid of their anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses, but they don’t—they just need tools to manage and accept them.” She looks forward to employing this technique with both individual clients and starting a group at JFS in the near future.So far, Debbie loves everyone she’s met at JFS and is very impressed with the longevity of the staff. “Everyone is so kind, sweet, and accepting,” she says. “I also really love working in a Jewish agency again—there is a comfort there.”
Debbie’s 29-year-old twin daughters have followed in her footsteps: Rebekkah works as a therapist in the Counseling Department of Regis University and Rachael is in a community psychology doctoral program at Michigan State University.
-Alaina Green, JFS Marketing Department