Michael Q. Rhea, 52

Seventh Ave and 19th St.

Miachel Q. Rhea

Photograph: Jay Muhlin

What are you up to? Just putting up some fliers. I do therapy, group therapy and life coaching.

The phrase life coach always brings to mind Steve Martin in Roxanne—when he hides in the bushes and tells his friend what to say. [Laughs] The take from Cyrano! Yeah. Well, not exactly.

You must be privy to a lot of interesting stories. Of course. I've been doing it for 25 years.

Are we more or less crazy than we were in 1984? Well...crazy is an interesting word. Freud said everyone is neurotic, just to different degrees. The problems are the same but they just get magnified by things—for instance, the economy.

Do you think living in the city messes people up? Absolutely not. We carry who we are inside and we act and react in a given situation based on who we are.

But what about getting pushed around on the subway?!? That's more stressful than traveling in an air-conditioned car in L.A. But there, you get stuck on the freeway. Every place has its problems, it just depends on who you are.

After so many years, do you hear the same stories over and over again?< Yes—it's encouraging. If I can see where it's going quickly enough, then the time it takes the person to recognize it and do something about it is shortened.

So, no signs of burnout, then? Not really, I like to help people.

How does it feel being on the other end of the question-asking, by the way? [Laughs] It's not a problem!

More from Michael

"This is just the way I dress in fall and winter. I find that, in New York, every patient is making a fashion statement. What I wear isn't an issue."

"I do community organizing in the Harlem and Hamilton Heights areas. There were three rapes there recently, so right now we're working with the police department to form a community watch. We're also doing some training to encourage rookie police officers to get to know the people in the neighborhood they're walking around in."

"I've been in New York since 1982. I grew up in L.A. and came here several times for conferences and really liked the city. I also liked the idea of a change of seasons. I haven't tired of it yet. [Laughs]" Want to try therapy with Michael? E-mail him at mq.rhea@earthlink.net.

Kate Lowenstein