Michael Roeske, PsyD

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Executive Director – Newport Academy, Connecticut

Michael Roeske, PsyD

Executive Director – Newport Academy, Connecticut

Dr. Michael Roeske is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked and trained in a variety of settings since 2003, including community mental health clinics, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, and residential and outpatient substance use disorder treatment programs. Michael has experience as a supervisor, clinical director, and assessor of children, adolescents, and adults. In addition, he has served as a chief operating officer and chief executive officer.

Michael recognizes the importance of exceptional, ethical, and collaborative clinical care; staff and therapist development; community outreach; and open, transparent communications. As an educator, he has been a national presenter, adjunct professor, and trainer of psychotherapy graduate students. In these ways, he has devoted his life to the science and art of serving those facing substance abuse and acute and/or chronic mental health concerns. Michael is currently an executive director at Newport Academy Bethlehem, Connecticut.

My Five Fundamental Beliefs

1. Childhood experiences inform adult mental health. Among the many theories put forth by Freud, one of the most durable and important was the idea that events in childhood are connected to adult mental health. Since then, other theories have emerged to describe the connection between our psychological past and our present. Arguably the most popular are derived from John Bowlby’s attachment theory. Today, almost all clinicians recognize that later difficulties in life are associated with earlier ones.

2. Families should be included in adolescent treatment. Without addressing how primary caregivers interact with their children, there is little chance that therapy or medication will result in long-term improvements. Parents need to listen to their children and work on connecting with them, rather than trying to immediately fix or dismiss what’s happening.

3. Trauma can impact both mental and physical health. Researchers began to explore the effects of early trauma in the mid-20th century. But it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that Vincent Felitti and others found evidence that unresolved childhood issues contributed not only to a greater likelihood of depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse, but also to a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.

4. What a therapist says is less important than how they are experienced. I am drawn to the concepts of “containing” and “holding.” These approaches describe a way of being with and relating to clients, which in many ways has little to do with talking. British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion developed the concept of containing, which likens emotional health to digestion. Specifically, Bion believed that infants were born with an undeveloped ability to handle, or digest, emotions. Thus, they needed specific types of encounters with a caregiver or therapist to help them think about, experience, and process these emotions.

5. Alcohol and drugs are both a solution and a problem for severe substance users. First glance, models of addiction that view drugs and alcohol as the problem can be compelling. For instance, it’s hard to argue against the idea that if there are no methamphetamines, there are no meth addicts. But what about the second and third glances? For some in the field, like the Hungarian psychoanalyst Alexander Radó, it was the impulse (and not the drugs or alcohol) that defined addiction. This shifted the focus of study to the psychological factors that make a person susceptible to abusing drugs and alcohol. In the histories of those with severe substance use disorders, I have found there are often preexisting symptoms, such as anxiety and obsessiveness, that later can change into other expressions of psychic distress.

Newport Academy…in his own words

“It is immensely gratifying to helps kids see and experience different ways of engaging, ways that are fulfilling and vibrant and that support connection—with others and, most importantly, with themselves.”–Michael Roeske

Select Achievements

  • Adjunct professor, University of San Francisco marriage and family therapy programNational speaker on opioid use disordersTrained as a full-battery assessor of children, adolescents, and adultsDeveloped curriculum for psychotherapy groups in acute care setting