Jen Bertasi Liam

jen pic

Who I am…

I am a clinical social worker specializing in work with families, parents, young adults, adolescents and children. Some of the most common concerns of my clients include depression, anxiety, self-harmful behaviors, divorce, parenting challenges and a desire for overall improved family functioning.

I believe that healing comes in many forms – and can be accessed through different avenues. I do not subscribe to one form of therapy… but instead, prefer to know many aspects of different strategies – and then, with my client’s knowledge and understanding of themselves, help facilitate whichever approaches will be most beneficial. This belief and practice comes from years of personal and professional experience. That being said, I do subscribe to a handful of common theories that I tend to use most frequently in session. See below for these.

Before becoming a social worker I attended culinary school and worked as a professional chef – until finally deciding that carrots don’t offer much in the way of riveting conversation. After returning to school to complete my bachelors and masters degrees I worked in a variety of settings ranging from elementary, middle and high schools, a local county mental health office, an in-patient mental health hospital and a domestic violence shelter. These varied experiences have all significantly shaped the way in which I provide services.

When not in the office I can usually be found with my family or outside…or in the best case scenario, both!


What I believe….

I believe that therapy works best when it is collaborative. I see myself as a facilitator and guide who can assist you/your family/ child in deciding what works best for you. That being said, I do come to the table with a few strongly held beliefs about qualities and characteristics that healthy families and individuals have in common….(obviously the degree of mastery varies at each stage of life, from baby to grown adult)- that’s where I come in.

 

The Common C’sfor Families (circa 2014, JL)

Cooperative Communication – a system to communicate that includes respect, willingness, openness and equality

Comfort/Companionship – the ability & willingness to experience empathy, enjoyment, warmth and love

Challenge – can challenge each other (intentionally and unintentionally) to be better people and family members

Consistent & Credible – has a well defined structure & rhythm that includes traditions, is effective & predictable with a sense of relatedness, and is accountable (to themselves and others)

 

Shared S’s for Self (also circa 2014, JL)

Self Soothe – the ability to regulate self and manage emotions more often than not…and to have a relative balance in the emotions that are experienced

Socially Sustainable – can effectively express thoughts and feelings to engage others and make/maintain meaningful relationships… this includes conflict resolution and repair

Start & See it through – exercises the ability and willingness to focus on a task (school work, paying a bill, exercising…) and pace ones efforts/ energy to complete the goal…and persevere when the task becomes challenging

Sense of Self – has purpose, confidence, direction and interests

Obviously not everyone can attain all of the above elements, all of the time. But most people find life more enjoyable when they can access most of these qualities, most of the time. I see my role as helping clients identify and capitalize on strengths in the above areas while simultaneously addressing and building on the challenges.

***I also strongly believe that finding a therapist who is a good fit for you, your family and/or your child is imperative to a successful therapeutic experience. I often say that people tend to spend more time finding a pair of shoes than a therapist. While I am all for finding a good pair of running shoes, I also encourage you to shop around when looking for a therapist!

 


How I work….

As referenced above, I do not have a one-size-fits-all methodology. It is likely that how I work with you, your family, or your child will vary slightly from those who left the room before you. However, there are some strategies/tools that tend to be common among most clients. I am well versed in those below and draw on them most heavily in my practice…

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviors – I help clients understand these connections so they can implement effective patterns that create positive change.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – Focuses on regulating emotions and interpersonal effectiveness by changing patterns of behavior that are maladaptive. I use this theory to guide clients in using mindfulness, distress tolerance and concrete self- soothing tools.

Imago Relationship Theory – Looks at emotional well-being within a relationship context and suggests that our intimate relationships are the catalyst for profound healing. I draw from this theory when working with parents, couples and families to explore ways for each individual to create and benefit from safe, supportive and empathetic relationships.

Floortime/Developmental Individual Relationship-Based (DIR) Therapy –Promotes the idea that caregivers are central and integral to the movement of children through the stages of emotional development – and that truly understanding the unique, biologically-based way each child processes the world is an imperative component to successful therapy. I rely on this framework when supporting parents in understanding their child(ren) and building on each child’s strengths (which may or may not be in-line with what parents expect/hope).

Psychodynamic Therapy – Is an insight-oriented approach that focuses on an individual’s unconscious content in an effort to alleviate maladaptive patterns of behavior. I use this theory when helping clients process and understand past experiences that have shaped who they are.

Family Systems Theory – Suggests that individuals cannot be understood outside of the context of their family…this theory assists in identifying strength and challenges within a family when looking at (among other things) sibling conflict, parental roles, boundaries and alignments within a family system.


Fun FAQs…

Can I leave my child with you and go run errands? While I can appreciate the need to multi-task on some days, unless otherwise discussed with me (asking while running out the door does not constitute ‘discussing’) – please do not multi-task during the time you are paying for my services. There are several reasons that I ask parents to stay during the session…..1) while many sessions may begin with your child alone (depending on the age of your child and the clinical situation), there will likely be a point during our time together that your participation is needed. Waiting for a parent to ‘come back’ to the office can be frustrating for the child, and it also sends the message that parent involvement is not ‘that important’. 2) As elaborated upon above, it is very important for your child to view therapy as a family affair. You leaving will send the opposite message.

How long do I/we need to keep seeing you, anyway? This is a fair (and common) question. My answer is usually something along the ambiguous line of ‘it depends’. And it does. It depends on the frequency with which you come, the intensity of the reason you are coming, whether the presenting issue is chronic or acute, and the willingness of all family members to participate in therapy. The span of therapy will also depend on what you are wanting to get out of the experience….some individuals see therapy as a short-term solution…while others are wanting a longer-term, safe relationship to take them through a specific phase of life. I do my best to talk through expectations and possibilities to assure that we are all on the same page.

Do you accept insurance? I am not on any insurance panels, meaning that you pay me directly and then I give you a receipt for reimbursement. The specific amount that you will be reimbursed depends on your insurance plan; you can contact your provider for more information on this.

How long are sessions and how much do you charge? I charge $150 for a 50 min session, $225 for an 80 min session and $75 for a 25 min phone session. Your arrival by our scheduled appointment time will ensure that you receive your full appointment. (ie, please do not assume that if you are 10 minutes late that I can extend your apt time by 10 minutes to make up for time lost). That being said, I work hard to assure that clients get their full appointment time…if for some reason I am running a few minutes late I will extend my time to assure your complete session.

Do you do phone sessions? Again, it depends. I do occasionally schedule phone sessions in lieu of in-person sessions, if appropriate. This is an agreed upon decision well ahead of time and does not mean that if you are suddenly unable to make a regularly scheduled appointment we can do a phone session instead. I do allow for brief (10 min) phone check-ins between sessions, without charge. Phone check-ins lasting over 10 minutes will be charged as a 25min half-session at $75.

Do you have any children? Yes…one daughter who is 8 (‘and ½ ’, as she would say)