I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I work with children and families, adolescents, and adults to provide support around navigating ADHD, adjustment, anxiety, depression, divorce, family changes, life transitions, and grief and loss. I also offer parenting support therapy to help parents shift patterns around managing challenging behaviors, reducing stress in the family, and increasing connection with their kiddos.
The heart of my work is centered around relationships, which I approach from the lenses of attachment theory and polyvagal theory. As a relational therapist, I believe that how we feel connected to other people has an impact on how we see and understand ourselves and the world around us. I work to establish supportive and authentic therapeutic relationships with people so we can explore connections and relationships together to gain deeper insight into how they show up in the world. My intention is to create a space that is accepting, warm, collaborative, and safe for people to tap into their inner resources and facilitate growth and healing.
An essential part of deepening our connection in relationships is acceptance, which is linked to the value of social justice for me. Social justice is a cornerstone of my practice as a social worker, as I am committed to raising my cultural consciousness by being open to learning. I strive to have eyes to see and ears to hear of the inequalities in our world, and the heart to pursue changes.
I also ground my work in the belief that play is an inherently connecting experience for people of all ages. For children, I believe that play is the most natural form of expression, and that the child’s inner world is rich with symbols and meaning. Through play, children can explore new possibilities and understandings of themselves and their world, as well as strengthen their connections to the people around them.
I am originally from Maryland and have earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and a Master of Social Work degree from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. My background experience includes working with children and families in the school setting before joining the practice. I am a former military musician and elementary general music teacher, and I use those experiences to inform how I employ expressive arts to provide a safe and creative environment for each individual to discover and explore new possibilities.
I have completed training in play therapy, as well as Theraplay Level I, which is a play-based modality to increase connection and joy in the parent-child relationship. I am a Registered Circle of Security Parenting (COSP) Facilitator, which is a framework that supports parents in exploring and improving their relationship with their children. I am currently working towards becoming a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, which is a modality that focuses on restoring balance to the autonomic nervous system by bolstering inner resources and releasing trauma.
- Association for Play Therapy
- National Association of Social Workers
Some of My Favorite Books
- Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi and Ashley Lukashevsky
- Hey Warrior by Karen Young
- Hey Awesome by Karen Young
- Let’s Have a Visit With Our Feelings by Ana Gomez
- Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed.
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
- The Power of Showing Up by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
- The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
- Was it the Chocolate Pudding? by Sandra Levins and illustrated by Bryan Langdoy
Jen Lerma, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker