Every month we delve into the life and work of a different therapist. We ask everyone the same 10 questions about everything from the biggest myth about therapy to their best advice for living a meaningful life. Clinicians also reveal what they love about working with clients, if they’d take the same professional path today and how they personally cope with stress — and a whole lot more.
This month we’re pleased to present our interview with Liz Morrison, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker with a psychotherapy practice in New York City. In her practice Morrison works with children, adolescents and their families, as well as emerging adults. In addition, she conducts a regular workshop for therapists on private practice development.
Morrison obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University, as well as a Master’s Certificate from New York University in Child and Family Therapy. In her work with children and families, she specializes in behavior disorders, ADHD, anxiety, self-esteem issues and social skills. She also specializes in anxiety disorders, relationship issues and life transitions in her work with adults.
For more information, please visit www.LizMorrisonTherapy.com.
1. What’s surprised you the most about being a therapist?
Since I primarily work with children and teenagers in my practice, my biggest surprise has been how interested they are in coming to therapy. More often than not, the source of the parent’s inquiry is that the child has asked for help. When a child or teen is asking for the help, they are immediately more invested in their progress. They are more open-minded about trying new things in therapy. This creates a positive therapy experience and leads to better results.
2. What’s the latest and greatest book you’ve read related to mental health, psychology or psychotherapy?
The latest and greatest book I have read related to mental health is called Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book was actually given to me by a child I worked with who had difficulties with peer interactions and social engagements.
Focusing on a 10-year old who has a facial deformity, Wonder explores the life of a boy with “differences” entering a new school. The book describes the experience from his perspective as well as from some of the other student’s perspectives. This provides insight into what it is like to be like him, as well as how others view him. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
“It’s like people you see sometimes, and you can’t imagine what it would be like to be that person, whether it’s somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who can’t talk. Only, I know that I’m that person to other people, maybe to every single person in that whole auditorium.
To me, though, I’m just me. An ordinary kid.”
― R.J. Palacio, Wonder
While Wonder is written for middle school children, it contains positive lessons about bullying for everyone.
3. What’s the biggest myth about therapy?
There are many myths about therapy. One myth is that therapy is only for people that are crazy or have something really wrong with them. This is completely untrue. People seek out therapy for a variety of many rational reasons. Some common reasons include learning coping skills, reducing stress, managing responsibilities, learning social skills, etc. Anyone can benefit from therapy, as it really is an open space for thoughts and feelings. Having someone to speak with who has an unbiased opinion can be particularly helpful for getting through a difficult or uncomfortable situation.
4. What seems to be the biggest obstacle for clients in therapy?
Embracing new ideas is one of the biggest obstacles I have seen in clients. Change can be a scary and difficult thing because people can become set in their ways. Wanting to make the change is not necessarily enough to make it happen. Being open-minded and embracing the change — even if it is scary — can lead to a more meaningful life.
5. What’s the most challenging part about being a therapist?
Time management is my biggest challenge as a therapist. I am constantly trying to accommodate my clients and make space for new ones but it can occasionally lead to a poor work/life balance. Being more mindful of this is an effective tool to avoid burnout impacting my clients and my work.
6. What do you love about being a therapist?
I really love hearing what my clients are interested in working on. Being a part of the change that they want for their lives is impactful for me. Since no two people are alike, I am constantly being exposed to new and interesting challenges. This makes the job fun and keeps me engaged.
7. What’s the best advice you can offer to readers on leading a meaningful life?
Everyone should realize that life has to have balance. Being able to enjoy the things you love to do and spend quality time with those that make you feel good about yourself can help you achieve a more meaningful life. This can be a challenge for many people as it can feel like work or school is consuming them. Self-reflection often leads to a more meaningful life.
8. If you had your schooling and career choice to do all over again, would you choose the same professional path? If not, what would you do differently and why?
I would absolutely choose the same professional path! Some of the obstacles that I experienced in school and my past work environment helped me to create my private practice. My job fulfills me every day and allows me to have the flexibility needed to have a meaningful life. This is the message I hope that I am passing along to my clients — that you can achieve anything you put your mind to even if there are struggles along the way.
9. If there’s one thing you wished your clients knew about treatment or mental illness, what would it be?
Keep an open mind about everything you hear, read or see concerning mental illness. To some degree, it affects almost everyone in the world and you are not alone.
10. What personally do you do to cope with stress in your life?
Coping skills are great stress relievers. Some of my coping skills include deep breathing, speaking with friends or family members, spending time outdoors by going for a walk or bike ride, and traveling. Find a real interest and utilize it when needed.