Updated: Nov 4, 2019
From a young age, Melissa has cultivated her calling to support others. She first became excited about working with children when she completed a high school internship as a preschool teacher’s assistant. Melissa continued on this path and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, with minors in Psychology and Children’s Studies, at Washington University in St. Louis. Upon completing her externship in elementary education, she realized her desire to support children in achieving social and emotional growth—within the contexts of their families and experiences—that occur both inside and outside the school environment. Melissa continued to pursue her dream, earning her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University, with an emphasis on clinical work with families, youth, and children. Melissa has experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and families in school-based settings, hospitals, and mental health clinics. She has also completed post-graduate training at Ackerman Institute for the Family.
Melissa believes that psychotherapy at its best is transformative, creative, and valuable; it is a dynamic and collaborative process, one in which Melissa supports clients in gaining new perspectives to achieve goals and emotional growth. The framework that guides Melissa’s approach to psychotherapy is holistic, client-focused and relational. Melissa believes that all clients are the experts of their lives and helps them access the tools for growth already within them. She values developing a safe, non-judgmental environment, one in which clients can feel comfortable expressing their feelings, and takes an empathetic and warm stance. Melissa utilizes a strengths-based approach and pulls from cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, play therapy, family therapy, and talk therapy to support clients in facilitating growth and change.
Want to know more?
As part of joining the team, Melissa was asked 5 questions about being a therapist:
1. What is one thing you love about being a therapist?
Through therapy, I have the unique privilege of working with so many individuals and supporting them in achieving their goals. It is very special to see clients reach those breakthrough moments of positive growth and change, and to see their hard work—inside and outside the therapy room—pay off! I am honored to play a part in the ever-evolving stories and lives of my clients.
2. What is one of your favorite books related to mental health, social work or therapy?
My favorite books related to mental health and therapy are those written by Julia Cook. The stories she creates are extremely relatable to children and address a wide variety of situations and topics experienced in everyday life, including anxiety, friendships, school experiences, ways to communicate feelings, family relationships, and teamwork. I believe that engaging children in bibliotherapy work is fun and creative, and can support them in learning effective problem-solving skills, positive behaviors, and ways to develop healthy relationships—all of which are so important!
3. What is your favorite activity to work on with kids and why?
I love utilizing art and play therapy techniques when working with kids. I believe that all children are creative in different capacities, and that they can draw on that creativity as a means of expression. One of my favorite art therapy exercises is called, “Color my Feelings.” In this activity, kids learn the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; they work on feelings identification and emotional regulation by identifying where they experience different feelings in their bodies and how this impacts the way they think and behave. I also love creating glitter jars, stress balls, and coping strategy shields. One of my favorite activities to work on with adolescents is positive affirmation and self-compassion cards. When adolescents feel disappointed, discouraged, sad, or experience low self-esteem, it becomes easy for them to lose sight of what they love about themselves. Writing down positive affirmations can remind adolescents of how awesome and amazing they are, and can support them in creating change talk.
4. What is something you would want parents to know about you?
I want parents to know that I absolutely love working with children and adolescents and value being a relatable person in the therapy room. My experience as an elementary school teacher and a therapist allows me to be creative, fun, and versatile in meaningful psychotherapy sessions with my clients. I want parents to know that I believe that they are the expert in their child’s life, and my role as a therapist is to support them and their child in achieving their unique goals, whatever they might be!
5. What are some of your favorite coping skills when feeling stressed?
When feeling stressed, I love to go to the gym for a workout, or if the weather is beautiful, go for a run in Central Park. I enjoy being physically active, as it helps me feel strong both physically and mentally. I also like to journal about my day and write down some positive affirmations when I am feeling stressed—it always feels good to grab a pen and paper and write down how I am feeling. This is a great way to develop deeper self-compassion and remember all of the good things in life!
Interested in working with Melissa?
Please call 347-758-2985 or email Liz@LizMorrisonTherapy.com for more information or to set up an initial appointment.