Private Practice

Meet the Therapist: an Interview with Laura Cousins

May 16, 2024

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place every May. As part of our campaign, we’re highlighting mental health professionals in our network. You can read all the stories here.

In this interview, Tava spoke with Laura Cousins, LCSW, who operates her private practice through Tava. Laura shares her experience working with Tava and her approach to therapy.  

About Laura Cousins, LCSW

Laura Cousins has been providing counseling for nearly 30 years. She works with adults on a variety of challenges from anxiety to grief and loss. Laura also works with children and adolescents to better communicate, strengthen self-awareness, and problem-solve healthily. Laura also specializes in helping parents find effective ways to respond to and manage challenging behaviors in their children, including those behaviors associated with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. In her free time, Laura goes out in nature, watching sports, or reading. Laura is a former foster parent and adopted one of her adolescent foster children – an experience that taught her powerful lessons in attachment trauma and abandonment. She’s been part of the Tava network for 1 year.

Learn more about Laura and if she’s a good match for you here.

What do you enjoy about working with Tava?

I like the convenience that the Tava network provides: easy access for clients, the ability to use health insurance benefits for therapy, and simple use of the telehealth platform. 

What inspired you to become a therapist, and how has your journey shaped your approach to therapy?

As early as my adolescent years, I noticed a curiosity about psychology and I had a growing passion for listening to others as they shared personal stories. This led to a desire to develop the knowledge and skills to explore individuals and families within their systems, with the goal of helping them feel like life is more manageable.

Can you share a particularly rewarding or impactful experience you've had while working with a client?

I've had many similar experiences in working with parents of children with very challenging behaviors. Helping them understand the function of negative behaviors and learn successful ways to restore peace in the home is very rewarding for me. It's a beautiful thing to watch the transformation and see the family get back to feeling calm and in control.

How do you stay informed about the latest developments and research in the field of mental health to better serve your clients?

I attend conferences regularly and take classes to strengthen my knowledge and skills. You can find me listening to podcasts or audiobooks on different therapeutic subjects or the current research on most days. 

In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about therapy, and how do you address them with your clients?

There are two that I will mention here: One misconception is that if you are in therapy, there must be something "wrong" with you. In my experience, the most common reasons people are in therapy are to get help with managing stress and anxiety or to find new ways of dealing with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

There are many different methods/styles of therapy and it is not a "one size fits all" practice.

The second misconception is that all therapy is the same. There are many different methods/styles of therapy and it is not a "one size fits all" practice. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the right approach that works best for you, and most therapists have a wide array of tools they can use to help. 

What strategies do you employ to create a comfortable and safe environment for your clients to open up and express themselves?

I feel it is important to come with no judgment and empathy for the client. Everyone fights a battle, so I want to honor my client's situation according to how it affects them, and not how I think it should affect them. If there is a sensitive subject, I leave it up to the client to decide if and when they are able to talk about it. Sometimes it's possible to heal by meeting it indirectly, but it's always a good idea to take as much time as needed to get to that place safely.

How do you approach the topic of self-care and prevent burnout as a therapist?

I think it is imperative to take good care of my physical and mental health: eating right, getting enough sleep, taking care of my relationships, and setting boundaries on my time when I need to. I like to use the air travel metaphor of putting your own oxygen mask on first so that you are able to assist the person beside you.

What advice would you give to individuals who are considering seeking therapy but may feel hesitant or unsure about taking that step?

There are several benefits to seeking therapy, but I think the best one for someone who is hesitant, is that you will no longer be facing the issue alone. You will have a supportive professional who is there to help you navigate the issue and feel safe to express your thoughts and feelings privately.

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