Accepting Clients in Massachusetts & New Hampshire (508) 881-5299 [email protected]
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Elizabeth Handley, LMHC, DCMHS

Let's sort this out together...

Are you feeling Worried? Panicky? Unmotivated or Overwhelmed?

Worried that “Something is wrong with me?”

Confused about why my child seems to be struggling?

Wondering: “Should I call someone? Who?”

All communication is confidential.


Support for Individuals

I offer individual counseling, providing you a personal opportunity to receive support and experience growth during challenging times in life. This can range from basic concerns of stagnation to more serious expressions of behavior.

Support for Families

I offer a variety of proven therapeutic approaches to help you and your family on your journey towards well-being and work alongside you to find the best solution.

Licensed Professional Counseling Services

Accepting Clients in Massachusetts & New Hampshire

Providing professional support for individuals, parents, families, adolescents, and children.


Elizabeth Handley

Elizabeth Handley holds a Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology (M.Ed.) and has over ten years of experience working with individuals, children, adolescents, and families in community clinic settings and currently in her private practice. Elizabeth is a Massachusetts Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC# 7154) and a New Hampshire Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC# 2441). She has been nationally recognized as an American Mental Health Counselors Association’s Diplomate in Clinical Mental Health specializing in Child and Adolescent Counseling (DCMHS). Elizabeth served as a member of the Board of the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association for seven years and served as President of the Board from 2017-2019.


Anxiety & Depression

Anxiety and Depression come in many forms, but almost always they show up together. They can be range from disruptive to life to crippling. Sometimes they can be hard to recognize because each can take different forms and they can overlap. However, reaching out as soon as possible for help to sort out what is happening can prevent a crisis from erupting, lessen symptom severity, and enhance healing.

Anxiety is often recognized as symptoms of panic: Notice that many of these symptoms are physical reactions (sweating, difficulty breathing, crying). Physical symptoms, mild to severe, are a clear indication that a therapist should be consulted as soon as possible. This is because anxiety can escalate very quickly, often with no warning and for no apparent reason.

By recognizing physical symptoms as soon as possible and reaching out before this crisis hits, the more quickly individuals can get their symptoms under control and avoid a crisis altogether.

  • Difficulty Breathing,
  • Chest Pain/Sensation of Having a Heart Attack
  • Racing Heartbeat/Pulse
  • Shaking/Trembling
  • Sudden Sweating
  • Compulsion to “leave”
  • Weakness or Dizziness
  • Tingling in limbs, hands, feet, or mouth
  • Nausea or other intestinal distress
  • Crying

Fortunately, not everyone has every symptom. Some people don’t have all that many but still struggle in one or more aspect of life.

Anxiety also is recognized as some combination of these:
Combination Symptoms
  • Irritability/Reactivity
  • Difficulty Adjusting to Change
  • Academic Underperformance
  • Family Conflict
  • Difficulty Falling Asleep/Staying Asleep
  • Crying/ “Meltdowns”
  • Impulsivity
  • Avoidance of Place/Events
  • Fear of Being Judged (including when reaching out for help)
  • Repetitive Negative Thinking
  • Compulsive/Repetitive Behaviors
  • Emergence of New Fears
  • Diagnosis of ADHD
  • Challanges with Different Learning Styles
Depression is most recognized as some combination of the following:
Combination Symptoms
  • Anger
  • Stress
  • Mood Instability
  • Academic Underperformance
  • Difficulty Adjusting to Change
  • Isolation/Withdrawal
  • Feelings of Hopelessness/Helplessness
  • Feelings of Embarrassment/Shame
  • Self-Blame
  • Loss of Confidence
  • Loss of Interest
  • Relational Conflicts
  • Job Instability
  • Academic Instability
  • Excess Sleeping/Insomnia/Difficulty Staying Asleep
  • Eating Disruptions
  • Impulsivity
  • Family Conflict
  • Difficulty Understanding
  • Self-Harm
  • Nausea
  • Repetitive Negative Thinking

What is important to assess is how life is impacted.

Anxiety and depression cause isolation, self-doubt, uncertainty, and feelings of being “stuck”. Even when symptoms are more of a chronic nature rather than severe, treatment is important because both can worsen quickly without warning. This also holds true for Post-Partum Depression that can last for two years or longer after childbirth, especially if not treated.

But symptoms of both anxiety and depression are reduced by just taking the first step towards getting some help. Just reaching out diminishes feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. Why? Reaching out can be difficult but reminds us that there is help available and that we can change how we are feeling.

Current counseling treatments are well established, very effective, and truly do start to work as soon as we do. Just getting started is a powerful answer. We can work on the rest together.

Here’s how: Counseling  helps to gain insight into how anxiety and depression are created in the brain as a response to our thoughts and behaviors. Therapy focuses on the development of new skills, using some new tools (actual “tools”) to reduce difficult feelings and behaviors when they happen. It is the reduction of symptoms that allows clients to be able to focus developing the insight that is the foundation for improvements that last over time.  Treatment focuses on changes that are simple and meaningful to you.

Professional, personalized attention to the real problems of every day life.

Working Together

What To Expect

As a counselor, I often hear from my patients during their initial visit about how long they’ve been putting off seeing someone out of fear. They also talk about how nervous they were leading up to the appointment.

Here are a few of my most popular FAQs you can review to feel better prepared and to relieve some of the stress of the process.

So how does this process of starting therapy work?

You can reach out to me through phone at 508.881.5299 or email at [email protected]

If you can provide me with specific dates and times to reach you, it will help me to connect with you more quickly. I will return messages by the next business day. There is no commitment in reaching out to me. There is no charge or obligation for a conversation about what is right for you. All calls are strictly confidential.

What are my payment options?

Please call for insurance information and private payment rates.

What about TeleMental Health?

Elizabeth currently provides telemental health services using a free, HIPAA Compliant encrypted platform. Please contact me for more information and to see if this option is right for you or your child.

Ok, what happens at the first session?

We start with an intake session that includes helping you get comfortable with starting to talk about what is challenging to you right now. You are the expert in your own experience.

Why partnering with Elizabeth works

I bring expertise, professionalism, and a passion for results. Every day I meet people who are feeling unsure or downright lost, embarrassed, or ashamed, anxious about what this all means or if there is “something really wrong with me.”  Working with them to help them feel better and happier is an amazing experience. The power of talking about it all out loud, (minus the worry about being judged) is always amazing to me. It is the beginning of feeling better!

The strategies we will use are tested and effective. Using them in a nonjudgmental counseling relationship helps us look at things differently, which leads to changes in both thinking and behavior.  Small changes in both, over time, add up to powerful and lasting changes.

Generally, I see clients once a week for the first four to six weeks if possible. We decide what you want to focus on and track our progress as we go. Teletherapy has been a great help and made this easier. However, it’s important to know that we go at a pace that is comfortable for you and helps you feel that you are making progress toward your goals.

I look forward to speaking with you to help you understand this process and decide what is the best next step for you.  There are answers for you!


My Mission

Support For Adults

Consultation, short term, and ongoing behavioral health services are available, depending upon the needs of the individual and/or family.

Treatment is aimed at identifying past experiences, as well as behavioral and thinking patterns which block the realization of personal goals and life satisfaction.

Through a collaborative treatment approach, issues such as the following will be addressed in a supportive, professional environment.

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Life Transitions
  • Relational Conflicts
  • Eating Disorders
  • Stress
  • Family Conflict
  • Trauma
My Mission

Children, Adolescents, and Families

Support is provided for families as they manage the challenges of healthy child and adolescent development. Treatment is aimed at relieving the following symptoms, in order to improve functioning by building confidence within the child/adolescent and improving relationships within the family.

  • Adjustment to Change
  • Academic Stress
  • Anger
  • Mood Instability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Eating Disorders
  • OCD
  • Impulse Control
  • Family Conflicts
  • Sleeping Issues
For Parents:

Are You Worried About…

  • Meltdowns/Outbursts/Yelling in the Family
  • Defiance (especially around schoolwork, chores, technology limits) /Disrespect
  • Exhausted by constant: explaining/cajoling/yelling/negotiating?
  • Changes or Loss in your family?

Effective treatment recognizes and addresses the challenges that kids, teens, and families face in today’s reality.

It is particularly important to note that the rising rates of anxiety and depression have been alarming pediatricians, educators, and parents (and others) for a number of years now. 

Like with Adults, Anxiety and Depression Symptoms overlap and are best sorted out with a professional. Anxiety and Depression can look different in teens and children from the way it can look in Adults. It often shows up as Conflict and the following tabs covers some of the ways anxious/depressed Teens and Children express it.

Typical Signs of Anxiety and/or Depression in Teens:
  • Use of Electronics/Social Media Driven Stress
  • Neglect of Homework/Chores
  • Withdrawal/Poor to No Communication
  • Crying/Anger/Meltdowns/Reactivity
  • Repetitive Negative Thinking
  • Sibling Conflict
  • Irritability
  • Defiance
  • Disrespect of Parents/Others
  • Difficulty Managing Change in Plans
  • Avoidance of Discussion of “Issues”/ Lying
  • Avoidance of Socializing/Isolating in Room
  • Restricted Eating
  • Friend Drama/Bullying/Being Bullied
  • Risk Taking Behaviors
  • Repetitive Behaviors
  • Self-Harm
Typical Signs of Anxiety and/or Depression in Children:
  • Use of Electronics
  • School work/Chore Refusal
  • Not listening/Not answering
  • Crying/Anger/Meltdowns/Reactivity
  • Repetitive Negative Thinking
  • Sibling Conflict
  • Irritability
  • Defiance
  • Disrespect towards Parents
  • Difficulty Managing Change in Plans
  • Denial of existence of “Issues”/ Lying
  • Reactivity When Told “No” /Constant Negotiating
  • Picky Eating/Eating Only Certain Foods
  • Bullying/Being Bullied
  • Repetitive Behaviors
Reducing Family Conflict:

There is lots of overlap between the ages but some of the signs can be easy to miss. Other signs just look like bad behavior or worse, serious character flaws.

Sometimes, parents and their kids have staked out their position without realizing it or have no idea what they can do differently. All parents worry that they are “doing a bad job”, that their child “can’t cope” and will “just keep going the way they are going” or grow into struggling adults. Children often have worries about their behavior too. They just don’t realize it or can’t admit it.

Often, family members have simply developed habits that have become entrenched. A teenager becomes so used to yelling back that they may not even realize it when they start. And parents are so used to explaining that they don’t notice that their child stops listening before they have finished their first sentence. Everybody is repeating the same behaviors which exhausts everyone and creates doubts in themselves in their families.

Therapy helps families develop two powerful tools: First, identify what behaviors are habits. Next therapy helps everybody to think about what they really want (parents: to stop having to yell/kids: get parents “off their backs”……sound familiar?) Small changes that build on one another builds a “tool kit” for everyone to get what they want in a way that restores confidence to family members and the family as a whole. This restores the peace and sets the stage for communication and fun to make a comeback.

Once the family has more calm respectful communication skills, any remaining challenges in the family can be addressed in a much, much more respectful, and productive way.

Developing Insight in Teens can be a challenge at any time.  However, it is extremely difficult to develop these skills when the teen is stuck in negative, defiant, or withdrawn behavior. Once the teen has experienced a little bit of a change in perspective and behavior and might be feeling a bit of success, they become much more willing to reflect on what they want and what they might be able to do differently to get it.

Parental involvement in Therapy with Teens varies depending on the goals of the teen or parents. However, barring Parents completely creates confusion and anxiety for them. Teens can understand that Parents need some sense of what is happening. Learning how to communicate in ways that are better for both the Teen and Parents is an important part of the skill building process.

Meaningful insight that develops into positive changes.

Easing Your Teen Into Counseling

Tips for Parents of Resistant Children and Teenagers.

It’s no surprise when a teenager resists counseling. It can be very hard for a teenager to see why talking to a stranger about their problems might be a good idea. Some teens worry that their parents think that they are “crazy”.  Even if they can’t explain it, for many teens, counseling is the last thing that they want to do.

In her book, “No Talk Therapy”, author Martha Strauss knew exactly what she was talking about when she wrote, “Kids don’t usually want to talk about the bad things that are happening to them. For many distressed children and adolescents, participating in therapy is more aversive than cleaning the bathroom.” (W.W. Norton & Co, 1999)

But the news is not all bad. Experienced counselors can often engage resistant kids and teens, even when they make their objections to therapy noticeably clear. Counselors can help teens and kids learn what to expect and how counseling can work for them. Often, they relax when they realize that the focus of therapy is change and resolving issues that bother them as well as their parents, as opposed to placing blame.

So, what can parents do? When discussing counseling, acknowledge your child’s reluctance to go, even if you fully expect that they will go.

Keep in mind that the expectation that “things will get better” might not be met for them right away. While adults might feel initial relief when beginning in counseling, sometimes children and teens do not. It might help to shift the focus of the discussion away from the child to the relationship between you and your child and their behavior. Try to focus on what you are hoping for.  Statements such as these might help: (fill in the blank)

  • I don’t want to fight about _________________________ anymore.
  • I want to find a better way to _______________________________.
  • It will be great when ________________________________ doesn’t happen anymore.
  • I am looking forward to _________________ getting easier.
  • I want to be better at _______________________.

Sometimes it is helpful to point out that counseling can help reduce or put an end to consequences such as loss of phone, screen time, grounding, and early curfews.

Sometimes, the less said, the better. Keeping conversations short and simple beforehand can help to keep everyone calm.

In many ways, a parent’s job is to get their child to the initial session and let the therapist help the child understand what counseling all is about.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Harvard Pilgrim, and Tufts insurance, as well as private payment are accepted. FSA/HSA Cards accepted.

Get In Touch

Location: 217 West Union Street, Ashland, MA 01721

Telephone: (508) 881-5299

Email: [email protected]

Hours: Call and Schedule Today

Non-Discrimination Policy

Elizabeth Handley does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff and patients.