Therapy with Liza
From your perspective, what is therapy?
Therapy is a space for you to safely explore your feelings, challenges, experiences and past trauma. It allows you to consider your experience and needs without the complications of a loved one’s feelings or advice. Therapy helps you to notice and shift behaviors that create anxiety, sadness, or simply keep you from being fulfilled. But therapy is not only about coping with problems or overcoming difficult life challenges—it is about discovering hidden parts of yourself that have potential to bring greater joy and satisfaction to yourself and your relationships.
Please share 2-3 anonymized examples of how the work can play out and/or look in the room so that I can form a visual or narrative of what to expect.
- Jennifer came into therapy because she was feeling overwhelmed at work. As she began to speak about her experience, I supported her to notice how she felt the need to always say yes to the requests in her life—not only at work but in her relationships. Jennifer began to understand that this was about her difficulty trusting and articulating her own feelings and needs. I supported Jennifer to process how this developed in her childhood. Slowly, she began to be more aware of her feelings in the moment, and started to assert herself at work and in relationships. Work became less stressful when she could set necessary limits for herself, even if they were small ones.
- Josh came into therapy after noticing strong feelings of anxiety for the first time. As he unpacked his experience, he noticed that his anxiety always came up around planning for social situations. Whenever he went out with friends, he searched for “the perfect places.” No one explicitly asked him to make the plans, but he felt he had to. Josh started to realize how much he disliked this process, and how he never enjoyed the actual outing because he worried if everyone would enjoy his choices. Therapy supported Josh to explore his need to make things work out for others, and how it impacted him. When he began to take a step back from being the planner, he was happy to see that others started to step up and make decisions. Josh felt relieved to know that if he did not take control, others might fill that void.
Are there any philosophies or values that inform your work that I should know about?
I subscribe to a humanistic philosophy, which greatly informs my practice. I believe that we are all born whole and full of all that we need to thrive. Life throws us many challenges that get in the way of us being our full selves. It is from this belief that we are whole and have the inner capacity to grow and heal that I work as a practitioner.
How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?
I will share about myself when I feel that it could be supportive or helpful to your process. I will sometimes let you know how I am responding to material you are sharing and give you a chance to tell me how you feel about my response.
How participatory are you during sessions?
During sessions, I allow my clients to talk and guide their experience. I participate by asking you follow up questions to explore a topic. I will also support you to become more aware of feelings and sensations in your body. I may support you experientially, to have a dialogue between two conflicting sides of yourself or to speak directly to a person with whom your expression is stuck. Finally, I may provide information that may help you to better understand a particular aspect of yourself, about which you are struggling.
Do you assign homework, activities, or readings for me to do between sessions? Why or why not?
I will assign homework in session if it feels relevant to material you are working on in therapy. This is usually about taking increased notice of yourself and your emotions in different circumstances. For example, I recently asked a client to pay attention to her feelings as she was engaging with a parent. At times, I recommend books to clients around relevant topics.
How will our relationship be different than relationships I have with friends/loved ones?
Our relationship will be different than with friends and loved ones in that I am foremost here for you. That means that I will not respond with my thoughts and feelings and opinions, rather help you to discover your own. Therapy is confidential, so any information you share will not be shared. I will see you on a regular basis, but I will not contact you outside of therapy session unless it is about an appointment time or payment matter.
Is there ever a time when you would encourage me to leave or graduate? Or how do I know when it’s time to end or move on, or time to stay and explore more?
You will know when you feel ready to end therapy, though this is a question we can explore together if you’d like. Some people come in looking to work long term, and others seek shorter term support. This is up to you.
Where did you work before going into private practice?
Since 2003, I have worked in community mental health, schools, as a therapist to adults, teens, families, and children. I was a program director in a program for mothers and babies in foster care for four years before starting my private practice.
Have you received any particular training beyond your post-Bachelor’s training?
I am a licensed clinical social worker with advanced training in Gestalt Therapy, Family Therapy and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral therapy.
What led you to become a mental healthcare practitioner?
I taught school in New York City just after college. Very quickly, I learned how profoundly feelings and life experiences impacted my student’s academic success. I found myself being an important emotional support—whether to the child coping with being “the different kid,” or to the parent struggling in a difficult marriage. This experience led me to want to go into the field of mental health.
What is the best part of the work for you?
The best part of the work is the privilege I feel to be trusted with my client’s stories and feelings. This feels so important to me and I take it very seriously.
What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues?
I am warm and casual, and people have told me that they feel quickly comfortable and at ease with me.
My presence in sessions is compassionate, direct, and interactive. I will bring humor into the work, because I find it’s a wonderful way to connect and bring levity to the therapeutic process.
I encourage my clients to be honest with me and share their reactions to how I am working with them.
How do you approach diversity in the room or working with clients who may come from a different background than you?
I enjoy working with a diverse client group. I believe that race, culture, socio-economic background, and gender identify critically impact our world view and experience. Like most topics, I will not directly explore aspects of your life until you bring them up, or if it feels like it is a factor in our therapeutic relationship. A good example of my approach to diversity comes in a recent client interaction: a client recently said: “I don’t want you to offend you, but um… I’ve never had a white lady therapist.” My response was: “I’m so glad you’re telling me, what is it like for you?” This client wanted to know more about my background and I was happy to share with her.
How can you tell if I am benefiting from working with you?
Most of my clients tell me they are feeling a decrease in stress and anxiety overall from coming to therapy with me weekly. They share that they are more aware of their own feelings and needs in the workplace, with friends, and with spouses. Each individual is different in terms of benefits; you may feel you are a better support to yourself outside of therapy, or that you are able to get space to more rationally think through decisions that you make based on reactive emotions.
How can you tell if I’m feeling unstuck, unseen or unheard:
I am aware of my client’s physical and emotional responses in session. I will ask you directly if I sense that you have not felt heard or listened to. This might come in the form of my simply noting: “I saw you have a reaction to what I just said, what happened?” or it might be more direct: “Wow, you didn’t seem to like that response.” If you are feeling stuck, I may allow some silence or space and then jump in to support you to notice what you are feeling or what is creating your sense of “stuckness.”
How long should I commit to being in therapy, at least in the beginning?
I see my clients on a weekly basis. Most of my clients have been in therapy with me for 3 months to a year. This is their choice, and I do not dictate the length of time in therapy with me. I do usually work more long term with clients, but encourage you to dip your foot in the water to see how it feels to you.
How should I prepare for my first session with you?
It might help you to know that I do ask more questions at intake than I do during an on-going session. I will want to know what brings you into therapy, and will ask you about your current work, relationships, and family history. You share as much as you are comfortable.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
Please bring payment to the first session.
Do I need to be mindful of anything in particular while commuting to your office?
My Manhattan and Brooklyn offices are centrally located, and close to multiple train lines. You may want to be mindful of the elevators that often have longer wait times than I’d like!
“Liza is an exceptionally astute and observant practitioner. She is dedicated to being a steady and helpful support to her clients and has the ability to support clients to feel safe expressing difficult emotions.”