Dov Cohen has been working with children since he was in high school — first as a camp
counselor and later as an assistant to therapists. With a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland, Cohen, 25, is a child and adolescent therapist working at a practice in Fairfax. Cohen, who loves technology, also built his own computer.
Why did you go into child therapy?
My whole family is therapists. My mom is a therapist, my stepmom is a therapist.
I have aunts and uncles who are in the field. And so, social work and therapy have always been things that I’ve been passionate about.
I worked at a summer camp doing behavioral [work] for a long time. I worked at therapy practices as an assistant to the therapists and a lot of [therapy] groups that were being run and so I’d always been really focused on children in that way.
More recently, I was working in a hospital in D.C. where I was working with adults with severe mental illness, and I loved working with adults. I actually found it to be incredibly important and enjoyable work. But in the end, I think my passion is still kind of focused around kids.
What issues do young people face today?
I think there’s a lot of misconceptions around change in general, right? I think that, oftentimes, older adults see their experiences as kind of the way that things should be. And so, when the youth are experiencing new things, like social media and technology, it can be
really challenging [for adults] to see its benefits without just seeing it as a change and immediately hating it.
I work with families to understand how video games can be really useful in a lot of ways, or good in terms of [kids’] development, as opposed to being the devil and [thinking that] all kids should be outside all the time playing.
What was it like to build your computer?
It was challenging — challenging and easy at the same time. The fact that I had a friend who was a computer engineer was hugely beneficial. I would not have been able to do it without him. He helped me figure out what parts I needed. And then it was just about putting them together in the right way. And so it was very much just like following a set of Lego instructions. Actually, it was a lot easier, but with some very expensive pieces thrown into it.
Do the skills of working with kids and being a camp counselor transfer into your work now?
Absolutely. I’ve been working with kids for years. You know, it doesn’t really happen very often, but I, as a young person, sometimes feel like it would be hard for parents who are older than me to just trust that I can help their kids in various ways. But my experience goes back so many years and there hasn’t been a month when I haven’t been working
in some way toward improving my technique and abilities.
It sounds like this is something that you’ve always know you wanted to do.
It totally is. I was very fortunate in that — you know, I joke that I remember being in fifth or sixth grade and I was, like, dreaming of one day being a therapist. But it wasn’t until college that that really solidified for me. I was always willing to think about other professions that might be something that I enjoyed to the same extent, and I kept my options open. But the more different things that I did, the more I found myself to be passionate about therapy.