In 2013, The Coche Center celebrated 35 years as a “best practice” Practice in Clinical Psychology. In 1978, Dr. Judith Coche embarked on bringing the best of mental health to the public by beginning one of the early non-medical female-led mental health practices on the Eastern seaboard. 35 years later, mental health is a household word. It’s about time.
The Little Practice that Could
The Early Years
The 1980’s celebrated credibility for Psychologists by requiring licensure in all 50 States. Drs. Erich and Judith Coche became central figures in the politics of Psychology out of sheer necessity: before licensure, no insurance company would reimburse patients for necessary inpatient and outpatient Psychotherapy with a Psychologist. Through their leadership as past presidents of the Philadelphia Society of Clinical Psychologists, and their participation in the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Drs. Coche were among the first licensed Psychologists in Pennsylvania, redirected the zoning of Psychological practices to the stature of a professional office, and had the audacity to suggest that colleagues ought to be able to advertise their services and to educate the public by appearing in the media. Despite consternation among conservative colleagues, the Coche Center began to grow, attracting clients from the nearby University of Pennsylvania, as well as the educational and business communities of the Delaware Valley.
The mid-1980’s were building years, as the Coche Center expanded to serve lower income clients in Cape May County. Both Drs. Coche achieved the status of Diplomate, the highest distinction offered in Psychology, by colleagues in the field. Both became licensed in New Jersey, enabling clients from a radius of 100 miles to choose to do personal or interpersonal work at either location. Between them, the Drs. Coche had published over 60 Academic articles and book chapters by 1988, when they completed work for what was to be their only co-authored book.
Spinnaker, a huge, smiling golden retriever, entered The Coche Center in 1987, long before therapy dogs were common anywhere. Reading the research on the power of canine contact to soothe anxiety, lessen depression, and prevent second heart attacks, Dr. Coche learned to train therapy dogs and committed to a partnership with her dogs of choice. Clients overwhelmingly applauded the ability to touch and commune with the four-pawed clinical expert at The Coche Center.
The Transition Years
Struck by lightning in the form of a melanoma, Dr. Erich Coche died quickly in his 49th year of life, leaving The Coche Center to Dr. Judith Coche, who had founded it alone in 1978. The Coche Center continued to thrive as Dr. Coche began a rich teaching relationship with the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical School of The University of Pennsylvania. Becoming known as a training center for colleagues, the Coche Center maintained its small size and dedication to its reputation as a “Best Practice” practice. Continuing the commitment to public education, Coche Center activities involved national media, including appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and many others.
“Couples Group Psychotherapy” (J. Coche & E. Coche, 1990) became of interest to colleagues nationally and internationally, as training expanded to include Europe, Canada, and South America. After remarriage to businessman John Anderson, Dr. Coche streamlined business practices, creating a community of change in which clients assumed accountability for responsible personal and interpersonal transformational change.
The New Millennium
The new Century ushered in a physical move to beautiful garden-front and bay-front offices with walls of glass, enabling clients a quiet and contemplative space in which to do life-altering work. A reputation spread for ethical practice in interpersonal psychotherapy for as many as 3 generations became a byword at the Coche Center. Clients from far away locations (Australia, Germany, rural United States) flew in for destination work at both office locations. The couples work became the focus of articles and interviews in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The British Telegraph. Prize-winning documentary journalist Laurie Abraham attended a couples group for two years, using her experience at The Coche Center as the basis for “The Husbands and Wives Club” (Simon and Schuster, 2010).
Moving forward, we can expect two trends:Continued incorporation of the electronic age. Introducing a therapy dog in the 1980’s was cutting edge and proved successful, as has much else at The Coche Center. Are clients likely to meet a friendly and helpful droid in the waiting room in coming months?
Skype and phone services create consultation opportunities for clients who attend appointments at the offices. Texting, which replaced e-mail, which replaced cell phones, which replaced live receptionists, is now a frequent, if carefully used, way to be in touch with one's mental health professional.
Think positively! Positive Existentialism has long been the foundation of treatment at The Coche Center, and shares fundamental concepts with Positive Psychology. Clients are delighted to reap benefits from the teachings of positive psychology as part of their individual and interpersonal mental health treatment.
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