Cathy Eisenhower, LPC

Parenting can be tough, and I’m here to help.

Maybe your toddler can’t stop his tantrums, your third-grader refuses to go to school, or your teen is struggling with coming out as transgender.

You’re not sure how your divorce is affecting your kids, and you’re worried about them.

Or your child is adopted and you are working hard to feel connected, working hard to help her when she’s out of control.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor and a play therapist, I’m here to get you started on the path to healing in a collaborative, caring, and confidential relationship.

I offer treatment for struggles such as:



Excessive worry

Sleep problems

Aggressive behaviors

Intense fearfulness

School problems

Sexual and physical abuse



Separation anxiety

Postpartum depression

Prenatal emotional difficulties


Chronic illness

Early medical trauma

Grief and loss

Gender Identity

Suicidal thoughts





Common Questions

Deciding to start therapy for your child can be stressful and confusing, so here are some common questions along with answers that might help lessen the stress.

How do I know if my child needs therapy?

It’s normal to worry about your kids but also not want to overreact to troubling emotions and behaviors that may simply go away. If you feel concerned, it can’t hurt to consult with a professional in children’s mental health to determine next steps, if any.

Child therapists don’t want to treat children who don’t need it, so you can share your worries and experiences with a therapist to help you decide if you should bring your child in. Sometimes your pediatrician can also help you figure out if it’s time to seek the help of a professional.

How do I choose a therapist?

 I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s even hard for therapists to choose their own therapists. The decision is so much about the potential for a productive therapeutic relationship, but we can’t really predict the future. Sometimes we meet a therapist and we know right away it isn’t a good fit.

Other times we’re not sure–therapy is often an uncomfortable, anxiety-producing effort, and that’s part of the process. Finding a therapist who makes all our anxiety go away isn’t always a good thing–change requires discomfort, for kids and adults. That being said, here are some tips for finding a therapist who can help:

  • If you definitely can’t pay out of pocket for a therapist, call your insurance company or search online for a list of child and adolescent therapists in your area who accept your insurance. Psychology Today’s Therapist Finder is a good start. Once you have a list, show it to others–your pediatrician, therapist friends, school counselors, teachers, clergy, or anyone else you think might have some experience with local child therapists–and see if they recognize and recommend any names.
  • Ask your doula or midwife, pediatrician, clergy, friends, daycare staff, teachers, pediatrician, school counselors. Many of these members of your community will have some experience with child therapists and will give you a name to get you started.
  • If you call a therapist who’s not taking new clients, ask that therapist for referrals to other trusted professionals.
  • It’s a good idea to meet with several therapists before you choose, especially if therapy is new to your family. When one stands out to you, give it a few sessions to make a decision. Most therapists will tell you that after 3-4 sessions, they will check in to see if it’s a good fit.
  • Feel free to call me (202-318-3958) if you have more questions about this–I’m happy to talk with you and try to help figure out how to find the right therapist for you and your child.

What will play therapy be like? Will I be in the room, too?

This is a common question, and one that is different for each family and each therapist. Play therapy runs the gamut, so some therapists work with the whole family in sessions, others see the child and parents separately, some do a combination.

In my work, I assess the needs of the child and family in the first 4-5 sessions, at which point I meet with parents to discuss my observations and recommendations for treatment, which could be dyadic work (one caregiver in the room with me and the child), triadic (two parents in the room with the child), or individual play therapy, which means I would have sessions with your child and separate parenting sessions less frequently.

I sometimes will recommend family therapy with older children and their parents and siblings if that seems to be what’s needed. Some parents bring in siblings and want me to work with both/all of the children at once, which I generally only do if the issue at hand is the sibling relationship.

I also offer the Circle of Security Parenting Program, which provides support and education for parents on attending to your child’s emotional needs.

How will a therapist work with me and my teen?

Another question many parents have, this also has many possible responses. When I begin seeing an adolescent for therapy, it really depends on what stage of adolescence, the child’s unique developmental needs, and the reason for the therapy.

For example, if a teen is coming for therapy around being transgender, the parent/s may need significant support and education about gender nonconformity and what they can do to help their teen feel loved and accepted, requiring more parent sessions and probably other resources, such as support groups, books, and organizations that serve gender variant communities.

On the other hand, if a young teen needs a neutral space to explore emotional states and anxieties or depression, I may meet less often with the family and focus more on individual work with the child. Or we may do family therapy. It just really depends. I collaborate with teens to make these decisions, helping them feel they have power at a time when they usually feel powerless.




Meet Cathy

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and play therapist living and practicing in Washington, DC.  After earning a Master’s of Education in Mental Health Counseling from George Washington University, I did post-graduate training at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis, and I’m currently still studying there. I have experience conducting psychotherapy groups with children, adolescents, and adults, including in a hospital setting, and individual psychotherapy as well. My play therapy expertise comes from working at the Lourie Center for Children’s Social and Emotional Wellness in Rockville, MD, as well as years of clinical supervision in psychoanalytic play therapy. I specialize in early childhood mental health and work with kids from infancy to young adulthood, specifically with families experiencing divorce, children who have suffered early trauma, and gender-variant children and teens. My work also extends to relationship therapy, family therapy, and individual adult therapy, stemming from an understanding of, and a fascination with, how families and individual minds grow and change.

I have specialized experience and training in the following:

  • Parent-child, attachment-based play therapy
  • Circle of Security Parenting Program (Registered Facilitator)
  • Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression
  • Psychoanalytic psychotherapy for children and teens
  • Group therapy for children and adults
  • Individual therapy for adults

Before I became a therapist, I was an academic librarian for many years, with a Master’s of Library and Information Science, and before that, I taught college writing while earning a Ph.D. in English and creative writing. Learning and thinking are really important to me, which is why I do lots of trainings, belong to consultation groups of like-minded clinicians, and seek consultation from respected practitioners on a regular basis. I was also a supervising clinician with the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School Psychiatry Residency program.


American Counseling Association
Association for Child Psychoanalysis
Austin Psychoanalytic
American Psychological Association–Division 9 and Section IX
Child Study Group, Center for Psychoanalytic Studies in Houston
Psychoanalytic Studies Program, Washington Center for Psychoanalysis
Washington School of Psychiatry
Infant Observation Seminars,  led by Nydia Lisman-Pieczanski, M.D.




Child & Adolescent Therapy

Your child may benefit from individual play therapy, parent-child play therapy, or psychotherapy, depending on age and particular needs. Feel free to call me for a consultation on what might be appropriate for your child.

Individual play therapy helps a child express thoughts and emotions in a safe, therapeutic space through the activity of play. Because young children are still developing their capacity for self-reflection, their understanding of the world, and their language skills, play therapy allows them to demonstrate their emotional states and work through their struggles in a way that comes most naturally to them. Parent/s meet with me often in sessions separate from the play sessions for help understanding your child’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and tracking progress.

Parent-infant/child play therapy is similar to individual play therapy, though in this case a caregiver is also in the room. I work with both of you to support your relationship and help determine how to respond most sensitively and productively to your infant or child. This is generally for children under 3 years old, but can work with older children as well.

Individual psychotherapy for adolescents takes into account the developmental stage of teenagers and their burgeoning independence. The changes in a teen’s life can be confusing for teens and parents. A therapist who listens without judgment has the sole purpose of helping teen and family understand what they are experiencing and how they might alleviate the emotional states that produce problematic behaviors and interpersonal conflict . Because the family is a system, working with parents remains crucial to the therapy.


Adult Psychotherapy

The key to successful therapy is a relationship with a caring, nonjudgmental therapist there to respond sensitively and patiently to whatever comes up. In my work, I offer that to my clients, as we collaborate in developing an understanding of your emotional states and how they drive your thoughts and actions. We’ll learn together what you need to strengthen and grow.

My time with children and adolescents informs my understanding of development over the life span, and how those relationships and experiences that shape us are alive in the present moment. I also bring a mindful approach to therapy–cultivating awareness of the here and now without judgment, as well as walking clients through meditation practices when that might enrich the work we are doing.

Because the therapist-client relationship is key, it’s important that we have several sessions to determine if we are a good fit for this work. After the third or fourth session, we can make a decision to continue, or I can offer a referral to another therapist if we think it might not be an optimal match.

If you’re not sure you want or need therapy now, feel free to call me to talk about your concerns and any questions you have about the process.