Steve Rudolf | Macaulay Honors College
Steve Rudolf

Steve Rudolf
Associate Director of Clinical Services

Macaulay Honors College

Steve Rudolf is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a focus on strengths-based interventions. He has a variety of experience as a therapist and clinical supervisor, having worked in outpatient clinics, schools, hospitals and remotely through telehealth. His training includes certification as a Solution-Focused Practitioner, as well as extensive study in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which uses a great deal of Mindfulness tools. He received his master’s degree in social work from Columbia University.  Steve enjoys working with people to help them recognize their strengths, build new skills and design their preferred future. Outside of work, he enjoys the parks and libraries of Brooklyn, podcasts and learning guitar.


Here are the various interventions I use, all of which I find to be flexible, creative, practical and engaging:

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT):  This intervention focuses on constructing the life you want to be living, while simultaneously looking for clues in your present and past that show instances of your preferred future. SFBT involves, at first, understanding what your hopes are from therapy, and what would make it worthwhile for you. After that, we use some unusual questions that will engage your ability to view multiple perspectives, explore exceptions to the problems you are having, and build solutions that are doable and self-sustaining. “Brief,” for our purposes, means as long as it takes, but not one session longer—emphasizing that our work together is purposeful and that therapy is not an endless project.

Assertiveness: I view assertiveness as a key skill in living well. Having assertiveness as a default style of communication is the goal, in that passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive communications come with pitfalls and are usually not the proper tool to use. A flexible, mindful approach to assertiveness is simply to view it as being present and willing to express your opinions and desires, while having no expectation of a particular response. This opens up a fluid, genuine way of communicating that will improve relationships and increase your ability to reach your potential. To help accomplish this, we look at the influences—good and bad—on your ability to be assertive through your beliefs, social roles and how you manage stress.

Mindfulness: Like assertiveness, mindfulness is another key skill in living well. The ability to be present, without judgement, and act in a way that overcomes the stress response or bypasses ingrained, unhelpful thinking is clearly useful for many situations. A further benefit of mindfulness is that, just like true assertiveness, it fosters a way of living that is more open and genuine, and you will find that you are happier, with the ability to be more comfortable in your own skin across a variety of circumstances. The skill of mindfulness comes from the practice of bringing yourself back to the present moment, and there are different ways to do this, based on what fits best for you.

Exposure: Exposure is a technique that cuts across various interventions. Simply put, it means taking part in activities or experiences that you may be avoiding due to anxiety or other reasons. Our work with exposure involves understanding avoidance strategies and safety behaviors, such as being overprotective, overcompensating for perceived deficits, and excessively seeking reassurance. We create an exposure plan and construct a hierarchy of difficulty to help tackle the issues step by step, so that your successes can build on each other.

Behavioral Activation (BA): BA focuses on behavioral change, by growing your ability to choose behaviors that are healthy and helpful. Positive reinforcement is the goal, specifically “diverse and stable” activities and relationships that are pleasurable and/or satisfying and naturally encourage repeated action. These helpful behaviors would ideally be diverse in that there are multiple sources of positive reinforcement (friendships, a respected coworker, dodgeball team, etc.), and stable in that they can be done consistently and are repeatable (going to the gym or a class 2x a week versus a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Bora Bora). It’s also important to combat avoidance behaviors, which provide temporary relief and “negative reinforcement” in that they help you in the short term to get rid of an unwanted feeling, but do not help you construct a vibrant, connected life.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): This intervention focuses on changing the relationship you have to something that is bothering you, whether it’s some form of negative thinking, physical pain or other troublesome stimuli. To do this, we develop the ability to accept the undesired thought or feeling without judgement, by building awareness, mindfulness and what ACT calls “psychological flexibility.” From there, the goal is to make choices that are consistent with your values in the real world, not some abstract version of values. This is the “commitment” part, in that we want to build the ability to act in a way that honors your values such that you can make choices that are better for you in the long term, as opposed to making short-term, avoidance-oriented choices.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This set of interventions is very flexible, and at its core examines the relationship among thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Any part of that trio can be the area of focus in CBT, but probably what most differentiates it from other treatments is the analysis of “unhelpful” versus “helpful” thinking, and examining evidence that supports or contradicts specific thoughts and interpretations. Examples of unhelpful thinking would be “all or nothing” thinking or saying you “should” or “must” do something when that’s not really the case.