feeling love~discovering truth~finding joy
Valerie J. Elsbree, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., C.A.P.

What can I expect from drug addiction counseling?


Many times it is discovered that the addicted individual has experienced a past trauma that led to the development of a coping mechanism of self-medicating his or her pain with the addictive substance of alcohol and or drugs.  Trauma may come from various origins; some may include the individual’s experience of rape, emotional abuse, mental abuse, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, and rejection.  Theseissues are generally the most common, but do not address all of the possible types of trauma that one might experience.

When an individual feels he or she has a problem with alcohol or drug addiction I provide support, encouragement, and a safe therapeutic environment where this issue may be explored.  Upon the initial visit, the client and I complete a thorough bio-psychosocial assessment.  Essentially, this is an in-depth evaluation of the individual’s alcohol and or drug use and a complete background history from past to current day.  The in-depth evaluation helps me to begin to learn as much as possible about the individual so that our work together is efficient and effective.  This information also provides me with the essential information I need to help design my treatment and counseling approaches which ultimately expedite the client’s desired therapy outcome.   

In over 20 years of treating individuals who struggle with addiction to alcohol and/or drugs, I have found them to be extremely intelligent and resourceful and usually find some coping mechanism to assist them in surviving the unfathomable.  Unfortunately, the individual who turns to unhealthy behaviors may become addicted to those behaviors and/or substances.  The utilization of unhealthy coping mechanisms time after time may  lead to crossing the line into dependency to the substance(s).  When this is the case, I help the client develop healthier recovery-based coping skills and healthier ways to deal with life’s stressors which can lead to abstinence from the alcohol or drugs.  Abstinence from the addictive substances of alcohol and/or drugs can lead to a feeling of self-empowerment and feeling that he or she has regained control of their lives once again. 

My confidential Private Practice office is located in Oakland Park/Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  I am a Licensed Psychotherapist and a Certified Addictions Professional (C.A.P.)   As a C.A.P. I am an expert in the field of addiction and have worked for over 20 years with individuals who struggle with alcohol and drugs being in control of their lives. 


How does relationship counseling work? 

Relationship counseling covers a broad arena.  When we think of a relationship, most often we think of marriage or couples counseling that is a romantic, intimate relationship, which is often sexual in nature.  However, a relationship of course may also be between business partners, a mother and daughter, father and son, teacher and student, etc. and is usually non-sexual in nature.   

Regardless of the type of relationship, there are a number of common factors that can interfere with the growth and development between the parties involved.  These may include, for example, poor communication, miscommunication, conflicts, misunderstandings, power struggles, controlling, manipulations and so on.  The differences between people that can contribute to relationship conflicts oftentimes come from our family of origin.  Our family of origin whether overtly or covertly role-modeled value and belief systems that, in turn, gave us our perception towards life and people. Whether we are aware of this or not, this is the perception from which we operate in our emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and sexual lives. When we interact with others our way may gel or it may conflict with others.  

I believe in people; but most of all, I believe in our ability to work out our  differences.  On the occasion when we have tried and tried without success a licensed therapist works with individuals, couples, families, and groups to identify the problem area(s) that cause the unresolved conflict.  I may work with them jointly in counseling and therapy as well as separately to get to the core of the problem or behavior.

Simply stated, the therapeutic relationship is one where core problem(s) are identified and the therapist offers recommendations and possible solutions to obtain the desired resolution.  This particular relationship can be the foundation for all relationships that follow.  It is one where the client (or family/couple) and therapist work together using a team approach until the client’s desired outcomes are achieved. 

Our confidential Private Practice office is conveniently located in Oakland Park/Fort Lauderdale, Florida. and provides Marriage Counseling, Couples Counseling as well as counseling and therapy for the abovementioned relationship types.


What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders continue to be on the rise in the United States and Europe effecting the lives of females and males between the ages of 6-91. There still exists the shame and secretiveness surrounding Eating Disorders, therefore many cases are not reported or underreported.  The following statistical data may help to clarify the current trends with those experiencing an Eating Disorder: 

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) statistics: 

  • Over one-half of teenage girls and one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
  • Females between 15-24 who suffer from anorexia nervosa show a mortality rate 12 times higher than the death rate of all other causes of death.
  • 40% of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years old.
  • Incidence of bulimia in 10-49 year old females tripled between 1988 and 1993. 

Some other fact-finding studies have reported: 

  • Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women (Smolak, 1996).
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991). 

Eating disorders are most often divided into three categories: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Compulsive Overeating. Low self esteem, depression, feelings of loss of control, feelings of worthlessness, family/relationship problems and an inability to cope with emotions are some of the underlying symptoms that people struggling with an eating disorder may exhibit.  

Ways to help… Like alcoholism, an Eating Disorder is a disease that can not be handled by yourself.   Seek professional help with someone who specializes in eating disorders. A licensed practitioner will help to guide you to find the most effective treatment approach for you or your loved one, and will provide  an in-depth evaluation, an appropriate treatment plan, and follow-up care, as well as providing support that family members may need for what they have been going through as a concerned loved one. 

My confidential Private Practice office is located in Oakland Park/Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  I am a Licensed Psychotherapist and a Certified Addictions Professional (C.A.P.)   As a C.A.P. I am an expert in the field of addiction and have worked for over 20 years with individuals who struggle with Eating Disorders and other diseases/addictions.  These diseases tend to take over control of a person’s life and rob them of happiness and reaching their full potential.  Regain control of your life today!


What is domestic violence?

 Battering is the most under reported crime in America and approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women.  It’s important to remember that Domestic Violence is not only physical and sexual violence but also psychological. The definition of Psychological Violence according to the National Domestic Violence website http://www.ndvh.org/get-help/ is, “intense and repetitive degradation, creating isolation, and controlling the actions or behaviors of the spouse through intimidation or manipulation to the detriment of the individual. For the battered person information, education and support can be very empowering.  

Here are some National Statistics and Facts regarding Domestic Violence:

  1. There is less resistance from the victim. It gives more power to the abuser. The victim feels like they ‘deserve' the abuse. There is less support from the victim's family
  2. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women from ages of 15 and 44, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes.
  3. Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers.
  4. About 1 out of 4 women are likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime.
  5. Police report that between 40% and 60% of the calls they receive, especially on the night shift, are domestic violence disputes.
  6. Battering occurs among people of all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds.
  7. Battering tends to increase and become more violent over time.
  8. Many batterers learned violent behavior growing up in an abusive family.
  9. 25% - 45% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy.
  10. 10.  Domestic violence does not end immediately with separation. Over 70% of the women injured in domestic violence cases are injured after separation.  

The easy to remember National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1-800-799-SAFE. Please pass this information on to anyone you suspect is a victim of domestic violence so she knows how to get in touch with professionals and services that are there to help and support her. 

The battered individual would benefit greatly from professional counseling and therapy to rebuild her shattered self-image, identity, self-esteem, and self-worth in order to feel worthy of the highest quality of life she has a right to have for herself and her children.

Our confidential office is located in Oakland Park/Fort Lauderdale, FL and we have worked in the field for over 20 years.