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Catherine Ambrose, LCSW

Catherine Ambrose, LCSW, is a psychodynamically oriented psychotherapist with 20 years of experience in private practice, mostly at The Temenos Center for Psychotherapy and Personal Growth. She specializes in treating women with eating disorders and couples with relationship problems. She recently graduated from New Directions: Writing with a Psychological Edge, a 3-year program in writing and psychoanalysis sponsored by the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. Her work has been published in Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy.

I'm Rubber, You're Glue

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 5/8/14 - 5:11 PM
“I’m rubber, you’re glue, what bounces off me sticks to you.” Recently one of my colleagues taught me this childhood taunt and response to name calling. It is one of the simplest and most accurate descriptions of projective identification that I have ever heard and makes me think of my client Nancy. Nancy and I occupy different ends of the political spectrum. It is interesting to me that I can work comfortably with clients who are different from me in very...

Calisthenics in Front of the Fun House Mirror

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 9/19/13 - 12:52 PM
Sometimes my days bring to mind a funhouse mirror. I stretch, collapse, widen, or shrink depending on the clinical demands of the moment, fundamentally changing and fundamentally remaining the same, moment to moment and hour to hour. Yesterday in my first session of the evening I was speaking with a young woman about the reasons for her recent spotty attendance. I fielded an interpretation that I know in every molecule of my being is correct, that she is trying to convince...

Talk is Cheap. Really.

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 7/16/13 - 4:51 PM
A few days ago, I read yet another article comparing the costs and effectiveness of psychotherapy and medication. While both have benefits, the article stated, medication is cheaper. Hmm. I wondered. My insurance company has a handy calculator that allows me to estimate the costs of various types of care, so I figured I’d check it out. Well, as it turns out, generic antidepressants are pretty inexpensive—definitely cheaper than psychotherapy for insured and insurer. But let’s consider my modal client. You’ve...

The Ones That Get Away

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 5/30/13 - 6:13 PM
On sunny days, the koi rise to the surface of the pond. Occasionally a particularly interesting one rises through the murk, and for a few moments it is clearly visible in all its mottled, sun-dappled glory, fins lazily stroking the water, eyes unblinkingly assessing my shadow before it propels itself back into the depths. That is the image that comes to mind when I think of Cassie. She contacted me initially through an email, sending me a clear, carefully composed assessment...

The Lying Artist

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 4/16/13 - 7:15 PM
Once upon a time and many years ago when I was a very new therapist, I worked with a client who had completely made herself up. A lot of things never added up with her. For starters, there was her presenting problem. Some days she would report a diet of jelly beans (not many) and carrots, and yet she was never low weight. But since clients with eating disorders are so often metabolically out of sync, it didn’t seem completely unbelievable...

The "L" Word

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 1/15/13 - 2:15 PM
Lisa hefts herself heavily up the stairs to my office. She must come up two feet to a stair, like a small child. She is breathless by the time she gets to my office and has to take a few moments to collect herself. As she settles in, I realize she has gained even more weight in the few weeks since I last saw her. She is huge, solemn, powerful, inert. Once she is seated, nothing moves but her head and...

Treating a Couple After an Affair

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 12/13/12 - 5:04 PM
The couple in my office is connected mostly by the spaces they hold between them. Sitting on the loveseat in my office, they do not touch, although their arms, legs, and elbows and hands shift in an unconscious echo of each other’s movements. They are not so much mirroring each other as performing an elaborate dance of avoidance and retreat, their bodies’ dialogue spoken even through their many silences. On a larger scale, the same thing happens where they live:...
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