Elizabeth Asta, PhD
Training Director, Senior Staff Psychologist
I find that my professional and clinical interests are always evolving and my interests grow as I work with diverse presenting concerns. I do identify as a generalist and enjoy having clinical variety on my caseload. With that said, my areas of developed specialty and interest include disordered eating and body image, perfectionism, familial and relationship concerns, anxiety, and multicultural issues in a broad sense (e.g. issues of ethnicity and race, sexual orientation, gender, social class, ability, religion and spirituality, and size). In terms of multicultural work, I have the most experience working with LGBTQIA+ clients and am a member of the transgender treatment team. Social justice work is central to my identity as a psychologist, and so I enjoy exploring identity development with my clients and how their understanding of their intersecting identities evolves over time. It is also always important for me to be continually exploring my own biases and stereotypes as a person who holds many privileged identities. Professionally, I love doing training and supervision and integrate that as much as I possibly can! I also enjoy the administrative aspects of counseling center work and am getting increasingly involved in the ways in which we can grow and improve as an agency and as a training center.
Theoretical Orientation and Therapy Approach
My theoretical approach is feminist, interpersonal process (FIPT) rooted in a multicultural framework. When doing clinical work, I reflect on my clients’ relational patterns, coping strategies, and ideas and beliefs that originate from family of origin or other formidable relational experiences. I also focus on how these beliefs and experiences are created or informed by the cultural context and value systems in which clients are embedded. I believe that clients learn ways of relating from relationship models in their childhood and utilize strategies to cope most effectively at different points in their development. Over time, those strategies can prove to be less effective and can impact their mood, ability to develop meaningful connections with others, and can lead to the development of symptoms that are distressing. I am also strongly looking at how systems of oppression, disempowerment, or privilege impact the distressed clients experience, including the ways in which they develop relational patterns and coping strategies. I utilize the therapeutic relationship as an avenue to explore these patterns and try to create an empowering space in which clients can try out new ways of relating and coping that may be more effective for them. I tend to take a strengths-based approach and integrate Dialectical Behavioral Therapy strategies into my work to help clients gain confidence in their coping strategies. I also utilize many cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) strategies as it seems fitting with the clients’ needs, though I predominantly approach my conceptualization from an FIPT model.
Supervision Approach and Model
Supervision is one of my favorite aspects of this job. I take a feminist and developmental approach to supervision. This means that my approach with supervisees depends on their developmental and professional needs over time—i.e. some may appreciate more structure and information initially, but may need less of that support later as they become adjusted to the agency and trust their clinical intuition more. I prefer to be transparent about expectations, our working and supervisory relationship, and ways in which our cultural identities may impact our work together in supervision. It is also important for me to be mindful of how power dynamics impact our relationship. I have a nurturing style that I try to combine with the empowerment of the skills and knowledge my supervisees already bring to the table. I prefer to focus more on professional themes and particular clients that my supervisee may be struggling with, rather than taking a larger case management focus. I am also very invested in helping my supervisees not only develop their clinical skills, but develop a strong sense of who they are as an agency member, a professional, and how they connect with their personal identities. If you cannot tell already, I love supervision and it is exciting to see the growth of my supervisees. I feel lucky to learn so much from each of my supervisees’ experiences and passions.