A licensed clinical social worker in the state of New York, Mary B. Heller became interested in psychology from an early age. After earning a bachelor’s degree, she commenced her career in 1957 as a psychiatric social worker at the Beloit Children’s Home in Ames, Iowa, until 1958. Relocating to New York, she served as a caseworker for Lutheran Social Services from 1958 to 1959 and the Society for Seamen’s Children from 1968 to 1971. She also served as a psychiatric social worker at Staten Island Mental Health Children’s Community Psychiatric Center from 1971 to 1975. Serving as a psychotherapist at the Mid-Hudson Consultation Center from 1976 to 1994, she served in the same capacity at the Windsor Counseling Group from 1988 to 2003. Likewise, she has been a psychotherapist in a private practice in Poughkeepsie, New York, since 1979.
Ms. Heller is a noted fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, and member of the National Association of Social Workers and Academy of Certified Social Workers. Authoring the article “Preventive Mental Health Services for Families New to the Community” in 1975, she has also contributed greatly to her local community. She was a member of the mission development board and the candidacy committee and chair of the Synod Council for the Metropolitan New York Synod from 1992 to 2002, member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Council and chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Seafarer’s and International House. Likewise, she sat on the board of directors of the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie.
Ms. Heller finds the most rewarding aspect of her profession is the trust she fosters in her patients, especially the children and teenagers she has in therapy. Involving families in the healing process, she enjoys sorting through family dysfunctions and providing guidance for the wellbeing of her patients. When asked of her career highlights, she cites helping a young boy recover from a severe toxic reaction to his asthma medication. Initially referred to her for grief issues, the young boy exhibited symptoms of a brain tumor. After consulting with several doctors and mentors, Ms. Heller referred the young boy and his mother to a specialist in Staten Island, who consulted with the chief pediatric
neurologist at Bronx Einstein Hospital. It was there the true cause of the very serious symptom was discovered. Ms. Heller soon realized that the young boy would have died had she not investigated the genuine causes of his illness and read between the lines. She feels grateful and humbled to have saved the young boy’s life.
Looking toward the future, Ms. Heller intends to continue providing psychological services to patients throughout Poughkeepsie. Married to the Rev. John R. Heller for almost 60 years, she is the proud mother of three children and grandmother of five grandchildren. She enjoys skiing in her spare time.
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