Columbia University School of Social Work, MSW

Training & Certifications

  • 250-HR Registered Yoga Teacher

  • Complicated Grief Training, Level 1 - Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University School of Social Work

  • East Meets West: Integrating Eastern Healing Methods with Modern Psychotherapy

  • LifeForce Yoga for Mood Management, Level 1 – Amy Weintraub & Rose Kress; Kripalu Center for Yoga & Meditation

  • Neurofeedback

  • SomEx (SM) Therapy for Trauma & Addiction, Module 1  - Experiential Healing Center

  • Stretching Trauma-informed Strategies: Yoga and Mindfulness for Children and Adolescents

  • Trauma, Body, & the Brain: Restoring the Capacity for Rhythm & Play  - Bessel van Der Kolk & Lucia Sky; Kripalu Center for Yoga & Meditation

New York State License Number: 105694

NPI: 1649836917 


Janine Ilsley, LMSW


“In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert's, there are few.” —Shunryu Suzuki, Zen master Buddha


  • Depression

  • Emotional Regulation

  • Spiritual Guidance

  • Transitions

  • Anxiety

  • Chronic Illness and Disabilities

  • Self-Esteem

  • Stress Management

How I Help

I approach our time in therapy with a "beginner's mind" - that is, recognizing my role as both the observer and listener of client's stories in knowing that we, as individuals, are far greater than what our past experiences assume us to be. However, the words contained within the narratives we often tell ourselves and others have an incredibly powerful impact on our ability to heal. Therapy offers a vantage point to bear witness to the narratives that block the inner wisdom of our mind and body. The clearing away of these self-limiting beliefs, or obstructions, creates the healing space necessary to reclaim the authentic voice that writes the path of your life.

Who I Help

I work with adolescents and young adults affected by a variety of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression; managing stress and anger; low self-worth; a sense of disconnection from the Self and others; interpersonal relationships; coping with life transitions; and navigating the Spiritual Path of awakening. I am particularly passionate about developing an individualized, integrative framework towards treating developmental, or childhood, trauma.   

Prior to joining Cobb, I had experience working with adolescent girls and women living with chronic disabilities, both congenital and acquired in nature. Here, I founded a support group for women living with Invisible, or otherwise "hidden," disabilities such as fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and chronic pain. I hope to continue that precedent here.

What to Expect

It is difficult to say, “I don’t know, and that’s why I have come to you.” When you really say that me, I see that you have become more humbled, more brave, more devoted, and more open to learning about your experiences.

While it is natural inclination to seek answers, lean on our supports, and find empowerment in other’s personal stories of “descent and rebirth,” we all have a Phoenix story burgeoning to be recognized, validated, and evoked. In order to do so, however, we must bring into full embodiment the past experiences that are tainting the present moment of our reality, and with that, teach ourselves to ride the natural ebb and flow of our moods, sensations, identities, relationships, and all of life.  While “talking” plays a key role in therapy, I view it as only a mere instrument to get us closer to the vehicle of our bodies.

Developing our ability to “bear witness” is a skillful means for freeing ourselves from the bondage of our own suffering – whether it be rooted in our childhood traumas, shadowed by the ambiguous losses of our lives, complicated by existential questions of what our true Purpose, or simply an underlying sense of “notOKness” that may permeate daily existence. According to Buddhist theology and integrative psychotherapist Stephen Cope, there are 6 primary characteristics of the Witness:

  1. The Witness does not choose for or against any aspect of reality.

  2. The Witness does not censor life.

  3. Witnessing is a whole-body experience.

  4. Witness consciousness is always present at least in its potential form in every human begin at every moment.

  5. The Witness is the part of already awake mind that is capable of standing completely still, even in the center of the whirlwind of sensations, thoughts, feelings, fantasies – even in serious mental and physical illness.

  6. The witness goes everywhere.

My role as a therapist is to evoke the Witness that lives within each and every one of us that allows us to stand back and observe our thoughts, feelings, and sensations – even in the midst of having them - without discrimination or judgment. It allows us to recognize what our imbalances are, and then how to work with these imbalances. It allows us to acknowledge and experience everything – including both our pleasures and pains - and, from that, transform our conditioned responses so that we can reclaim a sense of physiological and psychological balance.  Simply put: it allows us to sail out to ocean, while still remaining anchored and moored to the shore.

There is no formulaic method or “one-size-fits all” approach.  I see my training in evidence-based modalities, mindfulness-based practices, and trauma-informed techniques, as well as my studies in developmental neurosciences, all as different vistas through which I can view the individual and provide support in a more Wholehearted way. In doing so, I seek to cultivate a warm, contained nurturing space characterized by unconditional acceptance, compassionate connection, and loving-kindness. I became a social worker in the field of holistic mental health and wellness because it allows me to do just that – so that we can truly come to honor and share the wisdom of our lived experiences, and more fully dance in the circle of life.

More About Me

It is through the cultivation of my own self-awareness through which I can seek to authentically connect with others and create meaningful relationships. I foster my own holistic development the daily mind-body practices, including yoga, meditation, creative writing, and taking retreats to various ashrams and spiritual residencies within the country. I am also a registered 250-hour yoga teacher whose style is informed by Vinyasa, Iyengar, and Kundalini. I will be continuing my 500-HR advanced training this fall, as I feel strongly that our contemporary Western society can cultivate an intelligent union between yoga and psychology.

A life of service is a theme that guides my daily intentions.  In 2014, I lived and volunteered at a children’s village in Tanzania prior to pursuing my degree in social work. Ever since I have had the fortunate opportunity to spend the Christmas holiday with them.

In the meantime, you can find me delighting in sunflowers at a farmer’s market, taking a walk in nature, and in some way or another getting outside the confines of our spaces to travel to divergent corners of the state, country, world, or even the galaxy.