Jennifer Lamaj is a Licensed Certified Social Worker licensed to provide therapy to clients based in New York, New Jersey and Florida. Jennifer specializes in addiction, eating disorders, relationship challenges, and trauma. We asked Jennifer more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.
Jennifer’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
I decided to become a therapist after confronting struggles in my own life. It was through seeking a therapist for myself that I was introduced to the process and fell in love. Therapy helped me to understand who I truly was, and I use this approach with the clients I work with.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time I like hanging out with friends and family, running, reading, "vegging out," and cooking.
Jennifer’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
In my work I try to create a non-judgmental space where clients feel comfortable and safe to talk. I am here to allow them to express themselves however they feel authentically.
What clientele do you work with most frequently?
I currently work with adults in a variety of demographics and presenting issues. I have developed a niche helping those who have a history of substance use, eating disorders and trauma.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in working with clients in recovery from addiction?
Prior to private practice I worked for several years for a national addiction treatment agency. Usually challenges with the substance use population are denial, avoidance, and lack of internal motivation. I've observed that by meeting the client where they are at and being non-judgmental that this aids with initiating change. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all approach so it's important to understand that recovery looks different for each individual.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in eating disorders?
The eating disorder population is probably one of the more difficult populations to treat due to challenging behaviors and not being able to practice abstinence in this area. Unfortunately we are consistently surrounded by diet culture and this reinforces the shame, stigma and need for restriction with any eating disorder diagnosis.
By using a HAES (health at every size) approach and introducing clients to Intuitive Eating, a lot of these cultural barriers become flexible and allow persons to enter recovery.
Can you tell us about your specialty in trauma?
By working with the substance use and eating disorder populations, I have come into contact with correlated trauma. Often persons with trauma struggle with regulation of symptoms and feeling safe in sharing on the cause. Offering a non-judgmental environment, validating the client's experience, and providing coping skills is essential with helping someone to experience less impact with their PTSD.
Treatment for PTSD has to be incremental and understood that it is not an overnight approach; we are looking for subtle change at first so that we can build up.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is seeing people change and knowing that change is possible. It's amazing to see someone become empowered, work on themselves and be able to meet goals.
Therapy sessions with Jennifer
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
A first session consists on introductions of myself and the practice, along with the client sharing on what has them coming to session. We look at themes and a possible diagnosis to work off of so that we know how to better treat the issue and begin developing goals.
How long do clients typically see you for?
Session are 50 minutes each and it is the recommendation that we meet every week or at most every other week. The duration of remaining in therapy depends on the individual and the support they need.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
Books I usually recommend are:
- Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
- Codependenct No More by Melody Beattie
- Radical Compassion by Tara Brach
- Living Sober
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
I do often assign homework which may consist of a writing exercise like journaling, creating a pros and cons list, meditation, or movement to name a few.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
I ensure progress in therapy by discussing with my clients what they have seen as change in their lives and noting my experience with them in therapy. It important to consistently highlight progress as this aids clients in developing further goals and gaining confidence.
How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?
Often times clients enter therapy due to a lack of support in their lives and struggling with navigating issues because they feel like they have tried everything. Therapy can be a nice outlet to share and release emotions when you don't feel this is possible in every day life.
How can I prepare for our first session?
There is nothing that you need to physically prepare for our first session. If there are questions or concerns you may have, I encourage you to bring them up so we can work through them. Just know that I'll provide some guidance in the session and be asking questions to better understand your situation and support you.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
I sometimes rely on clients to share when they would like to end therapy or decrease sessions. It's when we notice consistent lulls in conversation due to conquering goals that we may need to decrease or end treatment. In any situation, we will have a conversation about the decrease to process reactions
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
A partner, friend or loved ones may have a biased opinion or not be able to provide helpful feedback when someone struggles. Therapy becomes a space where you can freely share on your issues without bias and collaborate on resolve to feel empowered.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
Seeking therapy can be a daunting and anxiety provoking process. My hope is that once we begin this outlook can dissolve and you can experience the benefits of working with someone who can act as a guide and support in your mental health journey.
Visit Jennifer’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!