Elizabeth Owen O’Brien, M.A., LPC-S
EMDR-trained

*During the COVID-19 pandemic, I am available to meet remotely. I send clients a link a few minutes before our scheduled session. 

I support clients in navigating difficult challenges, life transitions and relationships. My goal is to help clients become more self-aware and hence more emotionally attuned. Most of us need candid feedback in a safe space in which to evaluate our thoughts and behaviors so that we can make empowering changes.

I see life obstacles as opportunities for growth. Maintaining healthy boundaries and assuming personal responsibility are critical for self-actualization. When we are too defended or too people-pleasing, we can inhabit a false self that drains our spiritual energy and prohibits authenticity. We often act on internalized programming from our early lives—programming that might have protected us as children but which sabotage us as adults.

We live in a competitive, self-involved culture, and therapy can help us develop more self-compassion and also more empathy for others. I like to work with individuals who are seeking insight into why their lives and relationships aren’t working well. The mind and body are intricately connected and people can become depressed, anxious and even 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—providing motivation to explore 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

COVID Journal 4/8/20

COVID Journal 4/8/20 I never know how I’m going to feel when I wake up in the morning. Some days are dark, ominous—even when the sun is out—and others, like today, are more promising. We dodged a bullet in our family when our daughter and her husband, who came down with the virus in March, …

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COVID Journal 4/3/20

My husband Michael and I begin the days normally: coffee, smoothie, 3-mile dog walk. Only the  walk is different than in pre-pandemic days, in that it’s the morning’s main event and one of 2-3 long walks we take in the ‘hood to keep from going mad. Mind you, we’ve had to “borrow” Jamie, the chocolate …

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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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