I am Dana Weir, the director of the group therapy services program at Specialized Therapy Associates, and am a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). I have experience in working with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. I am also certified with the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) as a group psychotherapist.
My experiences started early on in my career as I first started working with adolescents in group homes while still studying for my BA in psychology at Rutgers University. From there I went on to receive my Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Hunter College in NY due to their prestigious reputation. While an intern at Hunter I had the fortunate experience of working in a community based mental health center in Newark where I had the opportunity to develop an after school program for children in the surrounding neighborhood. I also had the chance to work with victims of Domestic Violence at Alternatives to Domestic Violence in Hackensack.
Upon receiving my license to practice social work I worked at Barnert Hospital’s community counseling center in Paterson. Mostly this is where I started working with children, adolescents, and families. However, this was also where I started working with groups as well. I ran a parenting skills group and developed a poetry therapy group that was dear to my heart, since it combined two of my passions, literature and psychology. Barnert also offered me the opportunity to receive training in working with victims of sexual abuse through the Children’s Sexual Abuse Case Consultation Project. Upon receiving my license for clinical social work (LCSW) I then moved on to another community mental health center in Belleville, where I added working with adults and couples to my repertoire. I then returned back to working with children in an out of home setting through Children’s Aid and Family Services in Paramus, where I was an assistant director in their therapeutic foster care program. Other than learning a great deal of the foster care system, this is where my passion in working with children and adolescents grew even further.
I then began working at High Focus Centers in Paramus, first as a therapist and then as the coordinator for their adolescent group therapy programs. I was amazed to see how well the adolescents responded to working in a group setting and how I was able to see them get better through support from their peers, normalizing their experiences, and by making healthier choices in their lives. One of the reasons I was drawn to STA was because I saw it as an opportunity to develop groups at a less intensive, outpatient level that would not only be available for adolescents but for other populations as well.
On a more personal note, the communities of Northern New Jersey have always been very special to me. Not only was I born and raised here, but I’ve chosen to raise my own children here as well. I’m a proud alumnus of the Hackensack public school system, and have worked mostly in Northern New Jersey as a way to give back to some of the communities that have given so much to me.
As far as my treatment philosophy is concerned I believe that everyone should be given the chance to reach their fullest potential, whether that be through self exploration, overcoming obstacles, or anything else in between, and I feel the best way to nurture this is by providing a supportive, nonjudgmental environment that offers a safe space in which to thrive.