An Interview with Elizabeth Wilkinson, LPC, LCDC, Program Therapist

Posted on March 7th, 2014

Picture of Elizabeth Wilkinson, Program Therapist at Promises AustinOne of the first things people notice about Elizabeth Wilkinson – “Izzy” to those who know her – is her clever sense of humor. She’s quirky. She’s passionate. And she makes people laugh – not only in passing moments as she greets her clients or colleagues, but also as part of the therapeutic process.

“I believe humor can be healing in itself if it’s used correctly,” Izzy says.

Although Izzy utilizes an eclectic mixture of therapeutic styles to meet the emotional and psychological needs of her clients, she is specially trained in psychodrama, a type of therapy that is conducive to the entire range of human experience, including humor.

What Is Psychodrama?

Originally developed by Jacob L. Moreno, MD, psychodrama uses dramatic action, role playing and group dynamics to help clients develop insights into emotional or psychological issues as well as new skills to manage those issues. Psychodrama often includes elements of theater, such as a stage and props. In a typical psychodrama session, there is a director (trained in psychodrama) and a protagonist. Group members participate by playing the role of significant others and sharing how they relate to the issues brought up in the scene.

“Put simply, psychodrama is a combination of creative and expressive arts and counseling that creates a rich learning environment for clients to begin healing,” Izzy explains. “Although research in the field is still in its infancy, psychodrama has been shown to enhance learning and skill-building and promote emotional well-being.”

Using psychodrama, clients can work through problems in an active, hands-on way rather than just talking about them. They gain new perspective and empathy by stepping into other people’s shoes. In a safe, supervised therapeutic environment, clients have an opportunity to recognize how their behaviors shape their relationships and practice new behaviors.

The Road to Promises Austin

Izzy is in her third year of psychodrama training under the guidance of Katrena Hart, but her path has been many years in the making. Originally from Oklahoma, Izzy earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas. After that, she moved to Montana on a whim and ended up staying for six years. She worked all kinds of jobs – gardening, inspecting cabins at Yellowstone National Park, teaching people to snowboard, helping children in foster care – as she completed her master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Montana.

After graduating, Izzy moved to Dallas, where she became a licensed professional counselor and a licensed chemical dependency counselor, as well as a nationally certified counselor. She is also one of about a dozen Certified Humanistic Sandtray Therapists in the country. Izzy worked for a number of years in substance abuse treatment programs and private practice before joining Promises Austin.

A Beautiful Setting for Addiction Recovery

When Izzy discovered Promises Austin, she thought, “What a beautiful place to begin the journey of recovery.” She met the staff and almost instantaneously felt that she belonged.

“They were open to me being me and doing the work I love,” she says.

Known for being warm, approachable and fair, Izzy works in addiction treatment because she wants to help people figure out how to put their lives back together.

“I have a lot of respect for people who recognize that they can’t help themselves and reach out for the help they need,” Izzy says. “I try to be a sounding board for them, or a reality check or a support network, so that they can dig into the root causes of their addictions and go on to lead productive, successful lives.”

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