How We Can Help

Hello and welcome to our web site. If you are reading this, you may be struggling with depression, sadness, or anxiety. You may be in the middle of a difficult break-up, or the discovery of infidelity.


Perhaps you are planning to marry, looking to improve your marriage, or trying to decide whether or not to remain in your current romantic relationship.


We have had the privilege of helping many people work through these and other challenges in order to build happier, healthier lives.


Our specialties include couples therapy, addressing infidelity, adjusting to break-ups, relationship skill-building, communication enhancement, navigating divorce, self-esteem building, and pre-marital counseling.


— Elisabeth Joy LaMotte, founder


Learn More

What We Do

Help You Improve Your Relationships
We teach concrete relationship skills that help clients build stronger, happier, more intimate relationships with family, friends and romantic partners.

If you are experiencing a difficult break-up, a divorce, or the painful discovery of infidelity, we will help you work through the many levels of loss that are common to such challenges. We help our clients find opportunities for growth in spite of these painful scenarios.

If you want to improve your marriage or seek pre-marital counseling, our approach considers each partner as an essential player in the relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. We teach relevant psychological theories to help you work on both yourself and your relationships.


Help You Achieve Your Goals
Whether you are looking to build self-esteem, become a better communicator, manage anxiety or relieve depression, we work with clients to set concrete goals and take clear steps to achieve them. In addition, we help clients gain insights necessary to improve their lives.

We suggest resources so that the therapy is happening not just in our office, but outside of the office, in your lives. To this end, specific books, films, web sites and articles are suggested and tailored to the needs and interests of each client.


Upcoming Group Seminars


Niki Novak LMFT is now a participating provider in the Blue Cross network.  Blue Cross members seeking individual or couples therapy can learn more about Niki through the about and contact tabs. You can also reach out to Niki directly to schedule an appointment:

We are pleased to announce that Erin Katz is joining our practice in late August. She will be seeing clients at our Palisades location on Thursdays. To learn more about Erin, visit the about tab for a full bio.

In the News…


Elisabeth’s article about using films as a catalyst for change was featured on the Washington Post home page.  The comprehensive, unedited version of this article is posted here.


One of the signature aspects of our practice is that we suggest books and films that are specific to our clients’ interests and concerns.  For many years, we have integrated these resources into our therapy, and our clinical experience has been that the use of appropriate films and books enhances the effectiveness of therapy.  New research has validated the clinical benefits of our approach.  You can find out more in this report from the New York Times.  In February, 2016, Elisabeth was honored to have the opportunity to present strategies for this approach at the annual conference of the American Group Psychotherapy Association.


In August, Elisabeth was interviewed by Dow Jones for Money-ish to discuss marriages with a significant age difference. In July, she was featured in The Guardian discussing healthy ways to go through a difficult breakup and in the Psychotherapy Networker discussing the importance of respecting clients in therapy. In July, she was also interviewed by the Huffington Post to discuss important topics to address before deciding to marry. In May, Elisabeth was interviewed for an interesting HuffPo story detailing candid reasons women called off their engagements. April, Elisabeth commented for Huffington Post habits of resilience among married couples. In March, she was honored to present at the American Group Psychotherapy Association Annual Meeting. In January, Elisabeth was interviewed by the Huffington Post about things that matter less that you think when it comes to committed relationships and about what couples therapists notice in a first therapy session. In December, Elisabeth was interviewed about qualities that lead to lasting relationships and also about frequent sources of tension for couples during the holiday season. In October, Elisabeth was interviewed about reasons for constant marital conflict.

Elisabeth appeared on Fox 5 to discuss why breaking up is getting harder to do in Washington. She also appeared on HuffPost Live to discuss parenting and divorce. She was quoted in Redbook Magazine about divorce, and in Fox News Magazine about breakups.


She was also interviewed on WTOP and by Washingtonian Magazine for an article about couples and exercise and Washington Post Express for an articles about breakups cohabitation and moving in together.

Niki Novak was interviewed by Washington Post Express to discuss important considerations about moving in with your significant other.

We are pleased to announce that Niki Novak LMFT and Spencer Northey LMFT are now holding office hours at a new location: 316 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.  Please contact Niki or Spencer directly to schedule an appointment. or

Latest Posts

Cinematherapy/Bibliotherapy Blog

Questions of the Month



Our Approach


Cinema/Bibliotherapy Blog

Questions of the Month

Elisabeth Joy LaMotte: Founder & Executive Director
Niki Novak: Director of Training & Development

Sarah Spencer Northey
Erin Katz

Contact Us!

  • For more information about the Center and our therapists, contact Elisabeth LaMotte at 202-333-7424, or
  • For Niki Novak: 202-596-6454, or
  • For Spencer Northey: 202-656-7818, or
  • For Erin Katz: 202-430-5641, or


  • Paterson

    In her January, 2015, New York Times article Writing Your Way To Happiness, Tara-Parker Pope cites a plethora of research demonstrating that the act of writing can improve mood disorders, reduce depression, and even improve outcomes for cancer patients. Journaling is among the therapeutic writing strategies discussed, and journaling is a long-standing tool encouraged by therapists to accompany therapy.

    Therapeutic journaling strategies vary. Some therapy clients are encouraged to use a journal to track thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Some prefer to journal in the more traditional sense, as a personal diary and a means to describe personal daily experiences and memories, and to identify and express internal feelings. In Jim Jarmusch’s off-beat, lyrical film Paterson, the therapeutic mechanism is poetry.

    Paterson (Adam Driver) is a New Jersey Transit bus driver who punctuates his otherwise predictable days writing unexpected, glorious poetry in his private notebook. He tells his adoring girlfriend that he is writing a poem about her. When she asks if it is a love poem, he matter-of-factly explains that because it is about her, it is certainly a love poem. This simple exchange is a metaphor for the film itself, which functions as a love letter to the art of poetry.

    Paterson writes about love, objects and nature with simple, quiet irony. He is, after all, a bus driver named Paterson, whose route circulates the town of Paterson, New Jersey.

    The film’s plot is less of a formal story line and more of a poem. Random moments and meaningful ones are interspersed with words from Paterson’s notebook scrolling along the side of the screen. In one of the most memorable moments of this utterly whimsical but serious film, Paterson stumbles upon a young girl in an alley by the bus depot. The street does not look particularly safe, and she looks too young and too innocent to be sitting on a dumpster, unaccompanied. Paterson asks if he can sit with her until her mother returns. It turns out that she, too, possesses a cherished notebook filled with with poems. They bond quickly over a love for poems in general and Emily Dickinson in particular. She reads him her favorite of her own poems:

    Water Falls. Water falls from the bright air, it falls like hair, falling across a young girl’s shoulders. Water falls, making pools in the asphalt, dirty mirrors with clouds and buildings inside. It falls on the roof of my house, it falls on my mother and on my hair. Most people call it rain.

    The poems in Paterson were written by Jarmusch’s friend, the poet Ron Padgett, who wrote four original poems for the film.

    The film closes with another chance encounter with a fellow poet. Paterson has suffered a loss, and seeks solace in his favorite spot, a local waterfall referenced in his favorite poem “Paterson” by William Carlos Williams. A stranger (played Japanese poet Masatoshi Nagase who is perhaps playing himself) approaches and — like the young girl in the alley — they bond through poetry. Poetry is everywhere, in the mundane, the erotic, the outdoors and the urban streets. Whether writing for others, or writing for ourselves, the understated beauty of this magnificent film celebrates poetry, writing, and magic of human connections.

    Note to Jarmusch fans — the poet Masatoshi Nagase was also featured in the epic and unforgettable Jarmush classic, Mystery Train!