Therapy with Liz Staples Sheehan, LPC

Liz Staples Sheehan is a High-Performance Coach and Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX. She works with individuals to conquer their minds. This approach is for clients who desire mastery in their craft, career, and personhood. Clients experience freedom from anxiety and ADHD, they are able to regulate their emotions and own motivation. Liz is dedicated to guiding clients towards their life purpose and equipping them to perform at their peak.

We asked Liz more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.

Liz’s background and personal life

How did you decide to become a therapist?

I must admit I tried to avoid the therapeutic path for a while or rather avoid the vulnerability of it all… maybe you can relate? I knew I wanted to use pain I had  experienced to help others and began the lawyer route. I was pursuing justice and looking for a cure. While this is a worthy path, it’s not what I was truly craving. What I really wanted was a better understanding of myself and those around me. I wanted freedom from emotional heaviness, anxiety, and to know how we overcome our circumstances and live an enjoyable life.

I reexamined the story I had been telling myself and began uncovering my true nature. I started to understand the power of care and how it’s a provision for the cure. Caring for others by guiding them on their journey and speaking truth is my authentic path! It provides the space needed for others to recognize their own innate strengths and actualize their ability to live the life they want.

What was your previous work before going into private practice?

I wanted to have a variety of learning experiences before starting my own thing. My desire to explore lead me to incredible opportunities in East Africa, working with university students and trauma survivors. I took on endeavors I hadn’t set out to such as, developing a mental health department, teaching psycho-educational courses, training lay-counselors and creating a mentor program.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this experience was giving me a window into what I enjoy most in my field: a passion for creating & teaching! These passions are at the forefront of my private practice today. Working with people internationally and locally has shown me more about our similarities than our differences; we all essentially need the same things to heal, grow and flourish.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to laugh. Always have. My kid photos are mostly of me laughing… or having my head in the clouds, day-dreaming. I love absorbing comedy and cracking jokes with my husband; we recently practiced some courage and joined an improv group (highly recommend- tons of therapeutic benefits that span beyond laughing.)

The day-dreaming is still true today, which benefits me in my creative endeavors of writing and painting. I also love getting consumed in the fantastical world of a good book; I enjoy one’s that spark my curiosity and I love to learn!

Always down for a good road trip. It gives me time to think and sing along to my favorite songs. I can’t get enough of Harry Styles these days…Music for a Sushi Restaurant anyone?

If there’s an opportunity for me to be outside, I’m taking it. I feel whole in nature and going on daily walks gives me life. Meeting up with friends in the park for walk & talks is a favorite.

Liz’s specialties and therapy philosophies

What guiding principles inform your work?

You Do You. It’s the name of my practice and my number one guiding principle. The You I am referring to here is the one true You, your one true self. This is your inner guide and this is who is speaking when your true voice speaks. When you have awareness of your thoughts and your emotions, you are that which has the awareness. You are not your thoughts or your emotions. You are not your mind. This is the only true freedom; to learn to separate from the conditioned self and move through the world instead from the aware self.

Mindset is Key. Our thinking brain has a place and when we utilize it, we need to do so correctly. How do you walk through the world? When things happen, do you always ask yourself, “How is this for my benefit? What do I need to learn from this?” Having this mindset will move you in the direction you want to go. We work on developing a growth mindset to everything we approach.

Take care of your body first. Sleep, nutrition & exercise are essential for conquering one’s mind. Every time we feel “off” returning to our body is always the best place to start. Our body is very connected to the emotions we experience. Learning the language of the body is essential; creating awareness of where you experience emotion in your body allows you to take on new postures to conquer ones emotions. Becoming more “bodyful” allows you to become more mindful.

This is a 50/50 relationship. The client’s role is to invest in their learning, in and outside of session. It’s about making the teaching your own; understanding and embodying the concepts we learn in your unique way. My role is to be a catalyst; a mirror here to reflect what I’m seeing in you. I’m connecting with you to help you connect to yourself. I’m here to help you find YOUR way and guide you closer to your inner-guide.

What clientele do you work with most frequently?

I work with leaders, creators, & truth seekers; anyone who wants to improve their performance by conquering their mind. I take on clients who want to experience their true selves; they remain open, value correction and are willing to carry out instruction. My clients would describe themselves as on-going learners who desire understanding and inner-growth. They know this is what they truly need versus temporary fixes.

I work with high performers who seek improvement related to their health and wellness (including sleep, nutrition and fitness), at work as Senior and Executive members of their companies (including leadership styles, communication, and fostering relationships), and as Entrepreneurs and Creatives (including removing blocks, creating efficient systems, perfecting their craft and getting back to the joy of their art).

Can you tell us more about your specialty in performance coaching?

What I’ve often heard from clients is they feel they are putting on a performance at work, in their relationships, in any given moment. This type of performance is akin to wearing a mask; anticipating what the other person wants and becoming that. This is living a false sense of self and it’s the alternative to true performance.

True performance isn’t about becoming anything. True performance is conquering the mind so your true self can show up instead. It’s breathing, relaxing your body and allowing your felt sense to be your guide. This is what allows for efficiency and effectiveness and it’s not just for athletes, it’s for everyone. Performance is how you function in the world; whether we’re playing a sport, running a company, chatting with your neighbor, writing a book, being a mom or a dad, creating a work of art, making dinner…literally living your life. We’re always performing whether we realize it or not; if you’re not being your true self, you will be attempting to play at who they want you to be.

So who is your true self? You are the awareness behind your thinking brain, behind your ego, the you who is able to be genuine, communicate how you feel without a reaction or attachment to that feeling. How do we unlock this you? It’s more about removing versus adding and following our interests without any concern of “what we should be doing.” In order to perform at our best and experience flow in everything we do, we need to remove the you, you think you are.

Can you tell us more about your specialties in helping clients navigate anxiety?

Anxiety is a weird thing; it feels more like our shared human trait than a disorder that some people have. I would argue that we experience moments of freedom versus moments of anxiety. Our brain is trained to run and run with incessant thoughts. I work with clients to help change their relationship to anxiety and the number one thing I say to them is, “let’s stop using the word anxiety.” If we are telling ourselves “I am anxious” we will continue to be anxious and live in that state. We all have an ego that loves nothing more than to be in the driver’s seat and protect the stories we’ve told it.

True freedom only comes for those who take the power back. They allow their thoughts by accepting the truth that our powerlessness comes from us not watching them, from believing them and from listening to them. This is how we develop spaciousness between ourselves and our thoughts and emotions. Truly seeing our thoughts removes the heightened emotional charge. Ease will come to us the moment we begin this process.

You have to sit with the question, “Who do I want to be?” What must I do? What must I create? There are no “shoulds.” You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

When we have a life theme/mission/purpose (whatever you want to call it) we can align our day-to-day actions to serve our bigger vision. When our values don’t align, we live in distress. We say we want a lot of things, but we don’t truly know what we want until we sit with THE question. When you know what you want the universe conspires to help you achieve it.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Witnessing growth. When a shift begins to occur; you can feel an opening in which peace is entering and a client is adopting a new way of being. You can see it when a client comes back the following session and they’re implementing their felt sense into their daily routine. They know what they want and they have a true desire to achieve it; they’re experiencing more time and flexibility because they have learned to embody the honest approach of yielding versus forcing.

Therapy sessions with Liz

What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?

We jump right in! We start by making sure you have the proper foundations in place to achieve the mental fitness you’re striving for. We focus on the basics for human health; getting your body right by making sure you’re eating well, exercising and getting the sleep you need in order to perform. I want to get a good understanding of what you want to accomplish with our time together. We assess how you’re currently functioning and begin changing things up right away to disrupt the current flow that is not serving you.

In on-going sessions we troubleshoot; what’s working and what’s not? We build, refine and improve. We check in on your growth areas and goals to ensure you’re making progress. We get into flow states with deep conversations on what's pulled your interest and matters of the heart (getting to the core of what’s really bothering you.) This is an iterative process; there is frequent repetition to ingrain the concepts being taught by applying them to the specific scenarios you bring into session that given week, this is how we learn; we can gain full understanding when we see the truth in practical form.

How long do clients typically see you for?

I recommend clients start out with weekly sessions. Once they are seeing improvement and able to maintain that improvement outside of session, they reduce to bi-weekly and so forth until they are in the maintenance phase. The goal of our work is for you to be fully functioning and thriving on your own.

Are there any books you often recommend to clients?

I only share books that have had a significant impact on my life. The client’s who read the following are typically able to experience the truth becoming more ingrained and develop understanding at a faster rate. I always like to note the goal is not to finish a book as quickly as possible, but to UNDERSTAND the material, ingrain the material and apply it.

Do you assign “homework” between sessions?

All clients I take on are committed to the YDY process of showing up for themselves and seeking truth in and outside of sessions; we work and we seek to make the work effortless. The only things that will be assigned will stem from an intuitive session in which we both agree on the benefit. You're here because how you've been doing it isn't working and if you keep doing what you've been doing, you're not going to see movement. I’m giving you stuff that’s going to change the way you’re moving through the world.

How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?

It’s important to set goals; are you making progress in the right direction or do we need to change it up? My goal is to have you accomplish your goals. I hold you accountable to what you’ve told me you want to accomplish. Be careful what you wish for ;), if you don’t really want that particular goal, the truth always comes out. My approach is direct and compassionate, I always let you know what I’m seeing and invite clients to speak up on how they feel their progression is occurring.

How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?

When you're ready to make a commitment to yourself and see real change. When you recognize the ways you've been approaching life are no longer serving you. The answer to the question, "how am I functioning" can be very telling.

How can I prepare for our first session?

I have all of my clients bring a journal with them to each session so be sure to bring yours to our first meeting. Ask yourself, “what will I have in my hands by the time I’m done working with Liz?” Visualize your life the way you want it. What does it look like? Come in with goals you want to accomplish and let me know what you are already doing to work towards achieving those goals.

How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?

This is where the scaling evaluation I mentioned earlier comes in handy. We monitor your growth and improvement by scaling your wellness frequently. I will ask you where you are on a 1 to 10 scale, the scale is subjective, but telling. A rating of “10” means something different for everyone, but it’s essentially stating any form of, “I’m doing great, I’m living my best life or I’m feeling really confident navigating my day to day and feel assured I can manage on my own.” Once you’re at a 10, you’re done.

Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?

When your friends haven’t proven to give you good advice… Communicating with partners, friends and family is an essential component of living a good life. Sharing what’s going on in your life is completely different than expecting your loved ones to help you resolve the matter at hand. When working with a therapist/coach you’re receiving expertise to guide you in the areas you want to see improvement.

What advice would you share with therapy seekers?

Don’t be afraid to speak up and share with your therapist what you need. How are your sessions going? Are you making progress and improving each week? If not, request a different approach and inquire on what you could be doing differently. Make sure there is a coaching element. Be focused on the present and future and seeing where your past is preventing growth. Have a consultation in which you feel a connection with this person and confident they can assist you well on your specific journey.

Visit Liz’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!