In addition to her clinical training and experience, Dr. Oppenheim brings to her practice her many years of working in the arts as a painter, a theater director, a writer of prose, poetry and non-fiction. Her conviction that the creative impulse, (often dormant or hidden), is a healing and vital impulse, informs her work as a psychoanalyst.
After training as an actor and director at the Stella Adler Studio and appearing in and directing productions in New York City, Dr. Oppenheim became cofounder and Creative Director of the Stella Adler Conservatory Theater. Utilizing her theater training Dr. Oppenheim has run supervisory groups at The Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies to help mental health professionals become more sensitive to the client's needs.
As Theater Department Head at Bank Street's School for Children in New York, she created an innovative writing curriculum for young children not yet able to read or write that combined story creating, mutual play structuring and performance.
As Mental Health Consultant at Grand Street Settlement, she designed poetry and dream workshops for homeless and pregnant teenage girls as a therapeutic tool for discovering a sense of self-directed action in young people overwhelmed by a lifetime of emotional and physical dominance and abuse. She brings to her private practice her many years of clinical experience working for government programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and FEMA. As a psychotherapist for Head Start and Early Head Start, she has helped clients struggling with Hiv/AIDS, substance use, mental illnesses, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. She has utilized art and poetry groups for harm reduction patients, stressing flexibility in her work and her understanding of the creative process. She has learned that sometimes something as simple as taking turns humming songs and having everyone guess what that song is can function as a powerfully healing communal ritual. As a therapist for FEMA, utilizing art and play therapy, she assessed children for traumatic reactions to catastrophic events such as the 9/11 attacks. Her paper, Art and the Mother's Face (presented at IFPE, 2008), explores the ways in which early experiences influence our emotional relationship to flexibility, spontaneity and creativity.
She serves on the Research Committee of The Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies, and is a founding member of its Adoption Circle, a research organization dedicated to better understanding the meanings of adoption within the adoptive family and within society at large. Dr. Oppenheim regularly leads workshops, often through the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies, on adoption; relationships--family, romantic, parental, work; and the connection between early experience and creative endeavors. She is a recipient of the Phyllis W. Meadow Award for Excellence in Psychoanalytic Writing, 2008, for her paper, "The Magic of Adoption: A consideration of the preoedipal genesis of the family romance", Modern Psychoanalysis , 2009, vol 34:1.