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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, Ohio

 

 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

 

FAQs

Who is your typical client?

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.

What therapy topics do you specialize 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, premarital counseling, and infertility.

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.

What times are you available for appointments?

I am available: 

Mondays   11am-9pm,

Thursdays 11am-8pm

 Fridays     10am-1pm.

 
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Jennifer Fang Brehm

Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist

Education:

Master of Science in Family Science 

University of Maryland, College Park

Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies 

Pennsylvania State University, University Park

 

Testimonials

What Clients Have Said

"Jen is such a calming, clarifying influence! She helped us move past a crisis in our marriage and reach a point to rebuild.  We not only improved trust and communication, we improved the strength and depth of our team- a much stronger unit now! We haven't been this excited about our marriage and lives together since we were newlyweds 15+ years ago."

- Married Female, 40s

" She really focused on the positive.  (I mean all therapists do!) But with Jennifer, she helped me alter my way of thinking and seeing positive outcomes of difficult situations.

- Single Female, mid 20s

"Jen is great at validating feelings that I had that I felt guilty for having.  She really helped me to open up through understanding what I was feeling was not somehow wrong.  Jen is also great at tying in and contextualizing relevant psychological theory into her sessions.  This has been my first experience with therapy and it greatly exceeded every expectation I had as well as countered any stigma I had associated with therapy."

- Married Male, 40s

 

FAQs

Who is your typical client?

About half of the clients I see are couples or family members and half are individuals.   Presenting problems my clients cite most often include communication, conflict resolution, decision making about whether to stay together, trust, infidelity, grief, trauma, anxiety, anger, depression, and life transitions such as retirement, kids leaving home for college or work, new baby, preparing for marriage, or preparing for a romantic relationship. What I love about my work is I get to learn about and learn from a variety of people across all different ages, life stages, relationship/ family compositions, ethnicities and spiritual backgrounds.

What therapy topics do you specialize in?

Intercultural couples and families, Work and family stress, Premarital preparation, Grief and loss, Self Confidence, Men's  Communication

What happens in a typical therapy session?

While therapy is tailored to meet the unique needs of my clients for each particular session, there are a few common phases. At the beginning, I use qualitative interview get-to-know-you questions and sometimes quantitative assessments to get a clear picture of each person, the problem history and present state of circumstances. At the first session, I will ask my clients about what they do with their time, what recharges/ energizes them, a history leading up to the problem(s), what their contribution and attempts to resolving those problems have been, and what’s worked and what has not.   Then I summarize my understanding of the people and issues involved, explain a working hypothesis and discuss a plan for our work together. In early sessions, I will usually map out clients’ family structure and any salient patterns by drawing an intergenerational family map, called a genogram.   In the middle phase, we do the “hard work” which includes check ins about any out of session work, updates on the attempted actions, reinforcements for what works, instruction and practice of relevant coping skills, dives into deeper layers of meaning.   In the end phase of therapy, we consolidate the growth and gains so clients continue to do what works, remember why and how it does, work on acceptance of what cannot be or has not yet changed, and express any hopes and wishes that remain for the future.

What do you think allows change to happen?

Information, insight, perspective coupled with desire and willingness to try something new, or to remember what used to work but was forgotten, then doing it.  Noticing what works now and reinforcement to continue doing those things.   Being open and flexible to adjust when new circumstances arise.

What do you think gets in the way of change?

 A lack of self awareness or at least lack of willingness to take personal responsibility.   When we assign responsibility to others more than ourselves, we fail to see our agency or power in the situation and thus we give away our power and leave ourselves powerless.

How can you tell if therapy is effective?

 When my clients tell me so.   Also, when they are done with one topic and move onto a new topic, need sessions less and less frequently, and let me know they are ready to terminate therapy.   I have been a therapy client myself and feel most grateful to my therapist when I have internalized the questions coping abilities and am empowered to be independent. 

What made you interested in becoming a psychotherapist?

Consciously, having had very rewarding personal relationships, experiencing the empowering impacts of deep, intimate communication and human connection.  Subconsciously, I would suspect family of origin conflict I wished I could help resolve and my parents’ divorce has something to do with it too.

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

I enjoy quality time with my husband, our daughter, and fur-baby Labrador Retriever, as well as the rest of our family and friends. My most frequent pastimes include cooking, journaling, ballroom dancing, running, being out in nature, reading, napping and binging on a good Netflix series.

What times are you available for appointments?

I am available: 
Mondays 10am-8pm
Tuesdays 10am-8pm
Wednesdays 10am-8pm
Thursdays 10am-8pm
Fridays 10am-6pm
Saturdays 10am-2pm
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