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, May 6th, 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 joined our practice in March. She is seeing clients at our Capitol Hill location on Sunday afternoons. 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 March, Elisabeth was honored to present at the American Group Psychotherapy Association Annual Meeting. 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 and Spencer Northey LMFT are now holding office hours at a new location: 316 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.  Please contact Niki or Spencer directly to schedule an appointment. or

Latest Posts

Cinematherapy/Bibliotherapy Blog

Questions of the Month

Catherine's Corner



Our Approach


Cinema/Bibliotherapy Blog

Questions of the Month

Elisabeth Joy LaMotte: Founder & Executive Director
Niki Novak: Director of Training & Professional Development

Catherine Farrell Kaplan
Sarah Spencer Northey

Contact Us!

  • For more information about the Center and our therapists, contact Elisabeth LaMotte at 202-333-7424, or
  • For Niki Novak: 202-596-6454, or
  • For Catherine Kaplan: 202-656-7585
  • For Spencer Northey: 202-656-7818, or


  • Fences

    Discovering infidelity is a common reason that couples seek therapy. Infidelity is much more frequent than one might expect, and the popular culture tends to equate infidelity with a loveless or passionless marriage.

    In my work as a couples therapist, I often discover marriages that have experienced infidelity but that clash with this popular conception. In my post-graduate training as a couples, family and sex therapist, I was taught that infidelity is a symptom of a marital flaw. Therefore, the thinking goes, couples therapy following the discovery of infidelity should seek to identify and address the underlying flaw, while re-building trust to attempt to repair the pain and suffering caused by the infidelity.

    But I would amend this message to include the possibility that not every affair is a symptom of a marital problem. Sometimes is an affair is an indicator that the person seeking involvement outside the marriage is suffering or struggling while not consciously aware of the extent or impact of their internal pain. This analysis is not meant to excuse infidelity, but is intended to explore how affairs sometimes occur within the context of a good marriage.

    Denzel Washington’s intensely human direction of a film based on the legendary, Pulitzer Prize willing August Wilson play Fences represents a cinematic depiction of a marriage full of love, respect and passion that, nevertheless, succumbs to infidelity. Troy (Denzel Washington) is a trash collector and Rose (Viola Davis) is a homemaker. They are struggling to make ends meet in their working-class 1950s neighborhood. The bulk of the film’s narrative unfolds in the backyard of their small, understated but lovely home where Troy makes sporadic and inconsistent efforts to construct a household fence. This fence exists as a metaphor for the question of boundaries. Relationships and boundary testing between Troy, Rose, their teenage son, Troy’s grown son from his first marriage, Troy’s disabled brother and their greater community unfold with candor, dignity and compassion. The chemistry and love between Troy and Rose feels present and potent despite the array of adversity swirling around them.

    Despite their relational strengths, conscious and unconscious conflicts lead to life-altering sabotage and suffering. In addition to demonstrating how a good marriage might succumb to infidelity, Fences is a psychologically sophisticated tale that demonstrates the human vulnerability to repeating the most painful dimensions of one’s past. Fences also celebrates the power of family love and how, if each generation can emotionally give just a bit more than they received, inter-generational progress is possible.