ACEs Community Spotlight Series: Dr. Richard Honigman, Central Nassau Pediatrics


For our second community spotlight interview, I spoke with Dr. Richard Honigman, a pediatrician at Central Nassau Pediatrics in Levittown and infant mental health advocate. We discussed the importance of addressing childhood adversity and the relevant work he is doing both inside and outside his practice. Please note that responses have been adjusted for length and clarity.

Dr. Honigman is also the first recipient of the 2019 Ed Tronick Award for Distinguished Contribution to Infant-Parent Mental Health of the alumni from the UMASS Boston Infant-Parent Mental Health post-graduate Fellowship Program (Pictured here with Alexandra Harrison, MD; Marilyn Davillier, LCSW; Ed Tronick, PhD; Dorothy Richardson, PhD). He has completed Bruce Perry’s Child Trauma Academy’s Phase 1 Neurosequential Certification. Additionally, he is an active participant in Docs for Tots ACEs Learning Collaborative that has brought ACEs screening to pediatric offices across Long Island.

How did you get started working with families affected by  ACEs/Trauma on Long Island?

I have been involved with ACEs work for around a decade. Initially, I was doing work on the island of Grenada with a  foundation (Reach Within) that was interested in developing resiliency programs for youth who have experienced abuse and maltreatment living in residential facilities. This led me to do more research into early life adversity. I started to do more and more readings by and attending conferences with experts in the field, such as Dr. Felitti, Bruce Perry, and Bessel Van der Kolk. In 2012, I enrolled in Ed Tronick’s interdisciplinary 2 year Infant-Parent Mental Health Post-Graduate Fellowship Program at UMass Boston. This course covers normal and abnormal early development from a multi-interdisciplinary perspective and how to intervene to assist the infant-parent unit to correct dysfunctional trajectories. Also in 2012, I entered into a pilot program with South Oaks Hospital to co-locate a behavioral-mental health therapist in my office two days a week for my families that need intervention. I am happy to say that this program has been a resounding success and is still going strong.


For the rest of the interview, click here.

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I’ve been reading everything I could find from all the professors in the IMH program over the past year, plus a whole lot of other stuff.   I’ve been listening to BVK’s conferences for 10 years but only went once 4 years ago.  I asked Ed Tronick in a passing exchange about peds and he said “You pediatricians know nothing about child development.”  I totally agree. 

I went to medical school with 1 and only 1 goal,  to give my life  to prevent child abuse and neglect.  I couldn’t find a good way to really get that done, but I was passionate and I’m still passionate.  I’m gonna be a part of these programs someday just not quite yet....Right now I’m doing self care. I have to heal me first so next time I can give everything that I’ve got without any fear or shame.  I have to do this self care so that I can conquer this overwhelming drive to run and hide because my IWM is that people are not safe but I’m working to change that.

I can say for the first time in my life.... I’m getting really close.  I’m almost there.  I’ll never forget it and it will never go away but it will be my wisdom and that is a wisdom that you can’t know any other way than to walk through fire. 

Much love to everyone who cares with all their heart & soul for children.