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By Miletski, Hani | Contemporary Sexuality, August 2007 | Go to article overview

Member Spotlight


Miletski, Hani, Contemporary Sexuality


Berta Davis, PhD (Encino, Calif.)

Berta Davis was brought up in a conservative Jewish family in Brooklyn. She married for the first time in her early 20s, believing virginity would be the answer to marital bliss. Open communication about penis, vagina and sexual pleasure did not come naturally to Davis, who at 25 years of age, in analysis, became horrified by the bill of goods she had been sold, and went on to spend at least the next 25 years in revolt against the personal and social upheavals that traditional sexual mores represented. Davis' connection to Asian healing energies - whether in the form of yoga, meditation or shiatsu massage - has enormously facilitated her personal growth and development, she says.

When she and her second husband moved to Los Angeles in 1983, Davis didn't know a soul. She'd left an exciting professional world behind and wanted to establish herself professionally in "tinsel town." Davis enrolled in the one-year Human Sexuality Program at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), with Joshua Golden, Barry Reynolds, Anna Heinrich and Susan Price.

"These four inspiring clinicians and teachers introduced me to the cognitive behavioral world of sex therapy," Davis says. "This world was thousands of miles away from my New York psychoanalytic roots, which had inspired and nurtured me throughout my early life and training." She felt her deepest identifications were challenged, although she appreciated the behavioral model and found it quite helpful in dealing with anxiety based sexual concerns. Davis continued, however, to feel more comfortable in psychodynamic playgrounds where the complexity of human behavior and the influence of unconscious factors were more regularly explored.

Davis became an AASECT certified sex therapist in 1987. She is a clinical associate at the University of Southern California, where she supervises graduate psychology students in couples and sex therapy, in addition to her private practice. She served on the Los Angeles County Psychological Association Board for over 20 years, holding every post from membership chair to president. She also served several years for Division 42 of the Board of the American Psychological Association.

Davis is married to Benjamin Nitzberg, a retired pediatrician, who in their 30 years together has "inspired or dragged me (depending upon my mood) to travel throughout the world and to live and work for over five years in Tokyo, Japan." While in Japan, she gave birth to their son, Hersh, and wrote a weekly column for the Japan Times called "On Your Mind," dealing with issues of expatriate adjustment to living overseas.

"This was one of the most satisfying, creative and challenging times of my life," she says.

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