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Liza Harbison

 Licensed Clinical, Marriage and Family Therapist

Education:

Master of Science in Couple and Family Therapy

University of Maryland, College Park

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Oberlin College

Appointment Availability:

Mondays   10am-9pm,

Tuesdays 10am-8pm

Thursdays 10am-8pm

 Fridays     10am-1pm.

Saturdays 10am-1pm

    About Liza

    Typical clients:

    I work with a diverse set of clients, and aim to create a safe space for people regardless of gender, race, age, or sexual orientation. I see couples who have been dating for a year and others who have been married for 30 years. Some are looking for a relationship check-in or tune-up, while others have years of issues to work through.

    Specializes in:

    Many of my individual clients are struggling with interpersonal issues, anxiety, depression, and difficult life transitions. I also enjoy working with men who have not been to therapy before. In my work with couples, I specialize in communication issues, infidelity and trust, trauma-informed therapy, premarital counseling, and infertility.

    FAQs for Liza

    What happens in a typical therapy session?

    While there is no syllabus to work through in therapy, it can help to know a bit about what to expect before walking in the door. In the first session, I am learning more about the history of the presenting problem and about you outside of the problem. We begin to talk about the work to be done and how I see the presenting problem. In future sessions, we set goals and dive into the hard work of untangling the problem and making changes. Some sessions involve exploring a recent incident, while other times we may explore how the issue came from childhood experiences or do a structured communication or art therapy activity. I mix a variety of models and techniques into my work, always taking my clients’ needs and preferences into consideration. Over time, the client or clients are able to change their old patterns on their own and we can discuss ending therapy. The goal of this end stage is to go over the changes made and how to keep healthy new habits and ways of thinking in the future.

    What do you think allows change to happen?

    I believe the relationship between client and therapist is an important part of the value of therapy, and change usually will not come if the client does not feel safe with and understood by the therapist. With that groundwork in place, I help clients understand their inner experience better so they can begin the work of healing inside and outside of session. With insight into their inner world and some new skills, clients feel empowered to do the hard work of making change in their lives.

    What do you think gets in the way of change?

    Sometimes it is more comfortable to look at how other people or outside forces are causing the problem. I try to shift these clients to see that they can only work on their part of the equation, as that is what they can control. It is actually very freeing and empowering to turn the focus inward and make change from there. Another issue is impatience or expecting a quick fix. People come to therapy when they are hurting, and it is so understandable to make it want to go away. But there is rarely a quick fix, and making meaningful, lasting change takes time.

    How can you tell if therapy is effective?

    I believe in communicating regularly about the progress of therapy. When therapy is effective, clients report a change in symptoms or an improvement in the issues that led them to seek therapy. I am less involved in pulling them out of old patterns because they are able to do it for themselves in and out of session. I also communicate positive changes I see over time that clients may not notice in themselves, as sometimes it is hard to see change in ourselves.

    What made you interested in becoming a psychotherapist?

    I have always been interested in how the mind works. While working at a nonprofit with teenagers, I learned that I also cared deeply about the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. This systemic lens led me to choose marriage and family therapy in particular.

    How do you like to spend time outside of work?

    I enjoy hiking with my husband and dog, cooking vegetarian food, doing Sporcle quizzes, reading, and photography.

    Endorsement: Poignant, Provocative and Pragmatic Therapist

    "Liza is well versed and highly qualified in over nine different systemic therapy approaches.  Her range of theoretical knowledge and practicum experience allows her to conceptualize the problems and process for change through multileveled lenses.  Therefore, her therapy techniques address clients’ individual, couple and family needs.  Liza’s style as a therapist is balanced between poignant, provocative questions that empower clients to think for themselves.  Her mindful sensitivity provides warmth and support that encourages her clients toward hopeful and realistic goals.  Her reflections of client circumstances reveal poignant insights as well as pragmatic wisdom.  Liza has a unique ability to enliven and refresh heavy moments that clients might otherwise get stuck through her playful, cheeky sense of humor.  As a colleague, Liza is wonderful to work with.  Her contributions to the practice and my professional growth include her levelheaded ideas, thorough attention to details, diligent work ethic and being an empathic advocate for client interests and a trusted sounding board."       - Jennifer Fang Brehm

    Contact

    301-852-7177 ext.3

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