Elizabeth Owen O’Brien, M.A., LPC-S

I support clients in gaining self-awareness and emotional intelligence, maintaining healthy boundaries, practicing reciprocity in relationships, reframing life obstacles as opportunities for growth, and assuming personal responsibility—all in the service of becoming more authentic. So many of us develop a “false self” when we’re young in order to cope with parents, other adults and the demands of society, and we can get stuck there.

I like to work with individuals who are seeking insight into why their lives and relationships aren’t working well. I believe that the mind and body are intricately connected and that people become depressed, anxious, and physically ill when they keep their anger, fear, shame and resentment to themselves. Depression and anxiety are often “wake-up calls” to address our emotional/spiritual immune systems—opportunities to address deeper issues. Since human beings do not exist in a vacuum, but as participants in various systems—families, social groups, work groups, church/spiritual groups, and the culture at large—understanding contexts, particularly  family roles, is crucial in gaining the self-knowledge necessary to move forward. Finally, research bears out that we are “wired to connect,” and that people who become too isolated “fail to thrive.” Therefore, I see my key role as supporting clients in building and maintaining healthy relationships. I am also trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to address trauma, both primary trauma, and especially vicarious trauma experienced by health-care professionals.

I am credentialed with Seton Health Plan for Seton employees.

*I am an LPC-Supervisor at the Austin Counseling Center, where I practice. We offer office space to LPC interns who are interested in starting private practices under our umbrella. Visit: www.austincounselingcenter.com

My practice is strongly influenced by Attachment Theory; the Humanistic, “person-centered” approach of Carl Rogers;  Eric Erikson’s developmental model; Family Systems Theory; Positive Psychology; and Existential therapy, particularly the work of Viktor Frankl, in the service of helping clients discover their authentic life paths. Among the evidence-based tools I utilize are CBT, Motivational Interviewing and Mindful Self-Compassion. With appropriate clients, I use writing therapy as a vehicle for psychological exploration and emotional expression. I see a wide variety of clients and specialize in life transitions, relationships, parenting concerns and meaning of life issues. In addition to my private practice, I founded and manage a pro bono counseling program at the Town Lake YMCA, exclusive to Y members. Key areas of my practice include:

Parenting/Launching Young Adults Love and Relationship/Meaning of Life/Separation/Divorce/Empty Nest
Grief and Loss/Trauma/Illness/Pet Bereavement/Career Transition Retirement


The Spiritual Power of Depression

The Spiritual Power of Depression By Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC-S “Depression Hurts.” This clever tagline was used for years by a pharmaceutical company hawking a particular anti-depressant, or SSRI, and the medication in question allegedly ameliorated not only the despair and fatigue of depression but also the actual physical aches and pains that often accompany it. …

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The Interestings

By Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC-S I see a lot of clients who suffer from social anxiety. Many of them begin to isolate because of their discomfort. When we deconstruct their social experiences, more often than not many clients report that they strive to appear interesting to others and hence spend the bulk of their social exchanges …

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The Zen of Remote Coaching

By Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC-S A year ago, my right hip had become so painful that I was reduced to walking with a cane. This was after months of limping, hoping the condition would resolve. I am an avid dog-walker, and log 2-4 miles in my neighborhood daily. I was desperate to avoid surgery, but determined …

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The 3 Simple Hallmarks of Well-Being

What do we mean by “well-being?” Dr. Martin Seligman, the positive psychology guru at the University of Pennsylvania, uses this term instead of “happiness,” as it’s a more accurate and less charged term describing the human state of relative peace and contentment to which most of us aspire. Imbedded in the term is self-compassion as …

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