How We Can Help

Hello and welcome to our web site. If you are reading this, you may be struggling with depression, sadness, or anxiety. You may be in the middle of a difficult break-up, or the discovery of infidelity.


Perhaps you are planning to marry, looking to improve your marriage, or trying to decide whether or not to remain in your current romantic relationship.


We have had the privilege of helping many people work through these and other challenges in order to build happier, healthier lives.


Our specialties include couples therapy, addressing infidelity, adjusting to break-ups, relationship skill-building, communication enhancement, navigating divorce, self-esteem building, and pre-marital counseling.


— Elisabeth Joy LaMotte, founder


Learn More

What We Do

Help You Improve Your Relationships
We teach concrete relationship skills that help clients build stronger, happier, more intimate relationships with family, friends and romantic partners.

If you are experiencing a difficult break-up, a divorce, or the painful discovery of infidelity, we will help you work through the many levels of loss that are common to such challenges. We help our clients find opportunities for growth in spite of these painful scenarios.

If you want to improve your marriage or seek pre-marital counseling, our approach considers each partner as an essential player in the relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. We teach relevant psychological theories to help you work on both yourself and your relationships.


Help You Achieve Your Goals
Whether you are looking to build self-esteem, become a better communicator, manage anxiety or relieve depression, we work with clients to set concrete goals and take clear steps to achieve them. In addition, we help clients gain insights necessary to improve their lives.

We suggest resources so that the therapy is happening not just in our office, but outside of the office, in your lives. To this end, specific books, films, web sites and articles are suggested and tailored to the needs and interests of each client.


Periodic Group Seminars on Relationships
We periodically run group seminars on relationships. The next group will take place on Satuday, April 8th, 2017. To learn more about these seminars, and find out details about the next session, click on the button below. 

Upcoming Group Seminars


Clinicians Catherine Kaplan LPC and Niki Novak LMFT are now participating providers in the Blue Cross network.  Blue Cross members seeking individual or couples therapy can learn more about our associates through the about and contact tabs. You can also reach out to Niki or Catherine directly to schedule an appointment. and

We are pleased to announce that Spencer Northey will be joining our practice in early March, 2017. To learn more about Spencer, visit the about tab for a full bio.

In the News…


Elisabeth’s article about using films as a catalyst for change was featured on the Washington Post home page.  The comprehensive, unedited version of this article is posted here.


One of the signature aspects of our practice is that we suggest books and films that are specific to our clients’ interests and concerns.  For many years, we have integrated these resources into our therapy, and our clinical experience has been that the use of appropriate films and books enhances the effectiveness of therapy.  New research has validated the clinical benefits of our approach.  You can find out more in this report from the New York Times.  In February, 2016, Elisabeth was honored to have the opportunity to present strategies for this approach at the annual conference of the American Group Psychotherapy Association.


In January, Elisabeth was interviewed by the Huffington Post about things that matter less that you think when it comes to committed relationships and about what couples therapists notice in a first therapy session. In December, Elisabeth was interviewed about qualities that lead to lasting relationships and also about frequent sources of tension for couples during the holiday season. In October, Elisabeth was interviewed about reasons for constant marital conflict.  In July, Elisabeth was interviewed by the Huffington Post  about common co-parenting challenges divorced parents face.  In May, she was interviewed about things married men dread hearing from their wives.  In April, she was featured in an article about the signs that you’re not ready to marry and  signs that your marriage is worth saving.  In March, she was also featured in an article about the signs of a strong and satisfying relationship and ways to find closure in the wake of divorce.   She was also recently interviewed about difficult but important topics to discuss before committing to marriage.  Elisabeth spoke with W radio, one of the most popular radio stations in Latin America, to discuss internet dating and the psychological components of the common exit strategy of “ghosting”.  She was also interviewed by the Huffington Post about why women sometimes develop a pattern of choosing unsuitable partners.   Her post about men in couples therapy was also featured on the divorce page of the Huffington Post.  In November, Elisabeth’s article on the importance of endings is featured in The National Psychologist.  In October, Elisabeth was interviewed by the Huffington Post for an article about common complaints among men in couples therapy.  In September, Elisabeth was featured on the NASW website for her article about “ghosting” and Elisabeth was interviewed for an article in Urban Family about how divorce impacts the friends of the divorcing couple.    In August, 2015 Elisabeth’s article on divorce was featured in the New Social Worker.  In January, 2015, Elisabeth was quoted in the Washington Post Express discussing couples moving in together.

We are pleased to announce that Niki Novak LMFT is now holding office hours on Thursday evenings at a new location: 316 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.  Please contact Niki directly to schedule an appointment.

Latest Posts

Cinematherapy/Bibliotherapy Blog

Questions of the Month

Catherine's Corner



Our Approach


Cinema/Bibliotherapy Blog

Questions of the Month

Elisabeth Joy LaMotte
Catherine Farrell Kaplan

Niki Novak
Sarah Spencer Northey

Contact Us!

  • For more information about the Center and our therapists, contact Elisabeth LaMotte at 202-333-7424, or
  • For Catherine Kaplan: 202-656-7585
  • For Niki Novak: 202-596-6454, or


  • Hidden Figures

    Romance novels, films, television and advertising socalize women to prioritize becoming part of a romantic union. Breakups, new romances, engagements and divorce are among the relationship developments that might inspire the urge to reach out to a therapist. Any dramatic shift in romantic relationship status can spark the onset of sudden symptoms, most notably anxiety or a depressed mood. Even a thrilling, socially sanctioned, romantic development like engagement to be married inspires a significant psychological adjustment and often generates plenty of anxiety.

    But once the therapy gains momentum, the clinical process often shifts away from the romantic life and toward the individual self. Since my approach as a clinician is grounded in Systems Theory, the interplay between a person’s individual self and a person’s intimate relationships is a focus point of exploration. A central idea in Systems Theory is that, in order to have healthy romantic relationships, one must be able to exist as a healthy, grounded individual self. Meaningful work and satisfying, enjoyable female friendships are often important components of developing and sustaining a solid self-identity and self esteem.

    The blockbuster Hidden Figures is receiving deserving acclaim as a vehicle to tell the untold story of the gifted African American women who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help launch John Glenn into outer space. This inspiring true story celebrates its three heroines — Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) and accounts their respective roles at NASA during the intense period of preparation for Glenn’s historic launch.

    Romance is a lovely but barely visible component of Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder’s clever revelation of this valuable story.   Their seamless script emphasizes quick-witted dialogue exploring the dynamics of civil rights and women’s rights.

    The first scene of Hidden Figures features Katherine, Dorothy and Mary bantering on the highway beside their broken down vehicle while Dorothy aptly fixes the engine. A mildly intimidating patrol officer approaches with a heavy southern drawl, questions them and requests identification. Catherine promptly presents her NASA badge, and the officer visually examines the professionally dressed trio and responds:

    “I had no idea they hired….”

    A bold Dorothy smoothly interrupts the officer before he can utter a racially derogatory term and injects:

    “There are quite a few WOMEN working in the space program.”

    The patrol officer then offers the ladies a police led vehicle escort to the office.  (perhaps he does not believe their badges are real? or maybe he just wants an excuse to drive to NASA?)  The camera then cuts to a sparkly Mary who jokes from behind the steering wheel:

    “Three negro women are chasing a white police officer down the highway in 1961. That is a god ordained miracle!!!!”

    In another memorable scene, Mary is called in to consult on some equipment development, and a confident, middle aged, white engineer turns to her as asks:

    “If you were a white male, would you want to be an engineer?”

    Without hesitation Mary replies, “I wouldn’t have to; I’d already be one.”

    When John Glenn breaks protocol to introduce himself to the group of segregated African American women staged to greet Glenn’s NASA arrival, he shakes hands with Catherine and asks what she does for NASA. With her chin up and shoulders proudly planted, Catherine replies:

    “Calculate your launch and landing Sir.” Catherine’s response, while somewhat of an understatement, smartly summarizes her historic contribution to our nation’s space program.

    One of the many qualities that differentiates Hidden Figures as a film is that the dynamics between the ladies represent the most intimate moments in the story. The scenes of the trio spending time together seem so natural and depict real and unpretentious bonds of friendship. When together, these ladies have their kimonos wide open.  The viewer might easily make the early assumption that this is a tale of three remarkable, single women. But as the plot unfolds, it turns out that love is in the life of each of the three heroines. In a move that breaks blockbuster protocol, romance plays only small, albeit lovely, supporting roles. The starring relationships of this splendid story are the women’s friendships with one another, and their relationships with their respective careers. Mix in Pharrell William’s uplifting soundtrack and the plot’s historic value and Hidden Figures is in a class all its own. Especially for women looking for a few hours of celebration of the importance of satisfying careers and fulfilling friendships. And for parents who want to genuinely inspire their tween and teenage daughters.