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People, Places & Things

By Elisabeth LaMotte / November 8, 2017

The slippery criteria that define substance abuse are notoriously difficult to distinguish in a client’s behavior. Sometimes the signs are obvious. But often, therapy clients hesitate to report the full extent of their usage. Practicing therapists must ask the right questions, usually more than once. I was trained to begin therapy asking several background inquiries…

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The Big Sick

By Elisabeth LaMotte / September 27, 2017

Breakups can be heartbreaking, traumatic and disorienting. Therapists are intimately familiar with breakups, because a relationship’s demise is often the catalyst for therapy. A surprising outcome of certain breakups is that sometimes, they ultimately save the relationship. Director Michael Showalter’s hilariously raw romantic comedy, The Big Sick, illustrates a compelling roadmap to the ways in…

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Anything Is Possible

By Elisabeth LaMotte / September 5, 2017

Elizabeth Stroud’s 2017 follow-up to “My Name is Lucy Barton” stands alone as an engaging, page-turning tale about how two people can have vastly different experiences of the same relationship. A group of character studies follows the same characters that played roles in “My Name is Lucy Barton”. This time around, their stories are excavated…

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My Name is Lucy Barton

By Elisabeth LaMotte / August 21, 2017

Elizabeth Stroud’s 2016 best-selling novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, examines the literary challenge of capturing an internal emotional experience and translating it to tell a meaningful story. The novel begins from Lucy’s hospital bed in Manhattan where she is battling a substantial but undiagnosed illness. Lucy’s husband is struggling to balance work, caring for…

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Wizard of Lies

By Elisabeth LaMotte / July 13, 2017

Family Systems theory is a school of psychology through which individual functioning is best understood in the context of their most intimate relationships. This “systemic” perspective emphasizes how each individual is shaped by the culture of their “family of origin”. (Family of Origin refers to the family in which we were raised.) The theory focuses…

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Lion

By Elisabeth LaMotte / June 11, 2017

As a therapist in Washington, DC, I work with many career focused individuals and couples. DC dwellers tend to marry later and so they often decide to start families will into their late thirties and early forties. It is, therefore, not surprising that infertility and adoption are common therapy themes in our practice. The process…

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Hillbilly Elegy

By Elisabeth LaMotte / May 18, 2017

“I don’t believe in epiphanies. I don’t believe in transformative moments, as transformation is harder than a moment. I’ve seen far too many people awash in a genuine desire to change only to lose their mettle when they realized just how difficult change actually is.” What factors facilitate authentic change? And what traits of character…

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Fences

By Elisabeth LaMotte / April 17, 2017

Discovering infidelity is a common reason that couples seek therapy. Infidelity is much more frequent than one might expect, and the popular culture tends to equate infidelity with a loveless or passionless marriage. In my work as a couples therapist, I often discover marriages that have experienced infidelity but that clash with this popular conception.…

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Dear Evan Hansen

By Elisabeth LaMotte / April 10, 2017

Parents of teenagers are bound to struggle to communicate and connect with their kids. It’s hard enough to lure a teen out of their bedroom, let alone to convince them to engage in an authentic conversation. One strategy to connect with teens is to create scenarios that set the stage for conversation. Driving to and…

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Sing Street

By Elisabeth LaMotte / March 21, 2017

Sublimation is a freudian concept defined as the conversion of an unacceptable impulse or desire into an acceptable and even desirable form of expression. Unacceptable impulses are expected reactions to painful and traumatic experiences and are often discussed during the process of therapy. Director John Carney’s 2016 musical coming-of-age film Sing Street celebrates how song-writing…

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