LAS grad Dr. Chaim Neuhoff’s multidisciplinary approach to community healing
Philosophically, root-generating plant stems known as rhizomes are metaphors for how thought and action can spring from unlikely sources and seamlessly intertwine. In that sense, Dr. Chaim Neuhoff’s work as a clinical psychologist and community leader could be described as fundamentally rhizomatic.
The Class of 2000 Lander Arts and Sciences (LAS) psychology grad demonstrates equal passion for his profession, faith and fellow neighbors, and has found a way for all of those interests to organically intersect and feed off one another. Not only does he operate a private psychotherapy practice for children and parents, but the lifelong Brooklynite helps inspire wellness outside of his office by volunteering mentorship at local organizations like Toshia, which assists observant Jewish families dealing with crises. For Neuhoff, the spiritual component of his life couldn’t exist independently of his clinical work, which thrives off opportunities for philanthropy.
“This parallels the Touro experience,” he says. “[They] were teaching us how to integrate our religious personalities with secular training, and [my work] is an offshoot of that—taking whatever I learned and applying it back to the community. It’s all about integration.” That principle explains why, while at Touro, Neuhoff changed his concentration of study from Marketing to Psychology. “I was running some mentoring programs for adolescents,” he recalls. “I got to know a lot of them and wasn’t able to help them to full capacity, and at that point I decided to switch over to a psychology class, and I really saw that as a way to integrate the work I was doing with the community with a need to make a livelihood.”
His story also mirrors timeless parables that remind us there’s never a wrong time to pursue one’s ambitions. Even though he’d already settled down with a wife and children prior to enrolling at Touro, Neuhoff summoned a universally understood philosophical motivator. “It’s never too late,” he offers. “If someone’s determined, they can get to where they want to get and maybe surpass others who got an early start in the game. There are challenges, but at the same time, there’s nothing that stands in the way of determination.”
As for the goal of reducing trauma and stress among families in his community, Neuhoff will remain vigilant until “the need to get this kind of help is fully accepted by all segments of the Jewish community, and people will not feel stigmatized by it and be able to get the help they need. And Touro plays a large role in that to jumpstart the process.”