Abby Endashaw is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPC-A) in Texas specializing in life transitions, emotional regulation, trauma, and depression. Abby welcomes both individuals and couples to her practice, often encouraging clients to reflect on how their childhood has impacted their relationships today. She strives to help clients better identify their emotions in order to better express their needs and respond to life’s challenges through the use of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and Narrative therapeutic techniques.
We asked Abby more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Abby’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
While I discovered therapy as a profession later in life, it was clear that I had the makings of a therapist early on. I found myself drawn as a kid to various interview based talk-shows—Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Tyra show, and more.
While I loved hearing peoples stories, the part which remained with me all these years is the power of well-worded questions. Good questions can help us determine our values, uncover truths that haven't yet been acknowledged for ourselves, and help an individual make a stand. I find as a therapist, the same is true. A well timed question, an ear which picks up what's left unsaid, is the marker of an excellent therapist and is what I aspire to provide my clients with in each session.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
Prior to private practice I spent some time working at a faith-based, humanitarian aid organization. I taught leadership skills, intercultural communication, and provided grants to organizations working in the fields of peace and social justice. I find that much of the work I've done continues to be supportive in my work as a clinician in private practice.
We are all learning to use our voice, discovering who we are in the greater context of the world, and trying to take up space in ways that don't marginalize others. In both environments, though through different means, I utilize my resources to support individuals, teams, and organizations to be the best citizens they can be.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time I love to visit art galleries, attend concerts/comedy shows, and continue my search for the perfect oatmilk vanilla latte! When I'm not playing with my cats, I'm probably on the phone with my long distance friends or adulting with Taylor Swift playing in the background.
Abby’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
I believe that love ought to leave us all whole and not hole-y. In the words of Bell Hooks, "when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm's way." Holistic well being must include a sense of love for oneself, for our partner and families, and the world. This does not mean we are a doormat to our family, romantic partner (s), or colleagues. Instead, it means that a sign of true recovery will lead us to being a compassionate member of our social ecosystems. We will take our fair share, metaphorically and literally, and leave enough for others. We won't be hoarders of resources but kind stewards with regard for both ourselves and others.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I work most often with couples and individuals typically between 20 and 50. My clients are often people of color and often find themselves in periods of transition - coming out to their families, moving in with their partner, or even caring for their aging parents.
Folks often seek therapy when they are ready to see a change in themselves and the world they live in. It takes a great deal of courage to believe or even to hope for change in spite of the limitations existing in our day to day realities. I am incredibly inspired by my clients as they dare to be brave, in the words of Brene Brown.
Can you tell us more about your work with clients on self-identity and overcoming “people pleasing?”
Many folks come to therapy seeking a strong sense of self. They often find themselves over accommodating to meet the needs of others at work, in relationships, and with family. The pressures of meeting so many peoples needs at all times can accumulate in stress, anxiety, and a loss of agency.
Therapy can be a supportive tool unpacking the "why" behind people pleasing and help cultivate your inner voice, so before saying yes to everyone else, you can say yes to yourself.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in couples counseling?
In conflict most couples find that though the topic might change, the fights are somehow the same. In therapy, I invite the couple to get curious about the pattern they fall into. Instead of fighting each other, the couple can unite as a team against the patterns which divide them, and learn ways of relating that bring them closer instead.
Can you tell us about your work with clients on emotional regulation?
Our bodies give us cues to signal when we're tired, hungry, safe, and more. Becoming attuned with your body, learning these cues, is the work of emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is helpful in dealing with depression and anxiety, conflict resolution, improving sleep, and more. It is the foundation to all self care and mental health best practices.
Therapy sessions with Abby
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
Session one is introductory. It's a great time to get a little background on you and to set some therapy goals. One question you will certainly hear from me in the first session is, "In three months time, were you to look at your life and say therapy was successful for you, how could you tell? what would be different?" This is a helpful way to identify some therapeutic goals in your own words.
How long do clients typically see you for?
At the first session, we can identify appropriate parameters for our work together in terms of frequency of meetings (weekly or twice a month) and the amount of time you are comfortable seeing a therapist. Many of my clients work with me for about 6 months or more. During that time period, it's common that progress is made on their initial goals and new goals are identified.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
For clients who are struggling with people pleasing, I recommend, The Four Agreements. This tiny book packs a punch as it undresses the ways in which we internalize harmful messages from the world around us (and how to free ourselves from these messages)!
For clients who feel low on coping skills and struggle with overwhelming emotions such as despair, anger, or anxiety, I recommend The Dialectical Behavioral Skills Workbook. This workbook provides tools to manage your emotions in an easy to understand and disarming way.
Lastly, for clients looking to improve their communication, I recommend The Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples. This workbook isn't gonna figure out who is right or wrong in the argument. Instead, this workbook will help you see the common and reoccurring patterns in all your arguments and provide solutions on how to interrupt these patterns once and for all.
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
If I assign homework, it's often to reflect on a topic we discuss in therapy, to complete an action the client identifies as a goal for themselves, or to practice a breathing exercise we do together in session. Not every client needs homework, but for some, it will be a natural extension to the work we are doing together in therapy.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
I plan a check-in after 6-8 sessions to look back at the goals named at the start of therapy and see if they need to be changed or if, perhaps, the strategy ought to change.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
If you have tried all that you know how and it is not enough, that is a great reason to seek therapy. In therapy you can expand your "toolkit". If you would like the support of a nonjudgemental person in your corner to process your emotions and experiences, a therapist may also be helpful. Lastly, you may seek out therapy based in a genuine sense of curiosity.
Gaining insight into your values, emotions, and internal thoughts can be very helpful for folks experiencing imposter's syndrome, self sabotage, or self doubt to gain confidence and find kinder, more compassionate and authentic ways of being.
How can I prepare for our first session?
If this is your first time in therapy, it is okay to be nervous! During therapy you should know that you have permission to: say "no" to talking about something, decide you're not ready to commit to the therapist, and to pause
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
If you feel your concerns are being well addressed and you have no additional concerns to bring to the table, that may be a time to reduce or end therapy sessions. Also, if you find that your concerns are not being addressed at all, that is another good reason to reduce/end sessions (and find a new therapist!).
In sessions with me, you should always feel welcome to bring this question up and we can openly talk about either switching up the therapeutic approach or closing out and moving on to what's next! Your time is valuable, so whenever you feel the time is right, that is the right to end our time together in therapy.
Visit Abby’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!