We believe the hard work of therapy will result in the reward of growth and clarity.
Relationships take work. Marriage is not easy. Families will run into hurdles. You are not weak for seeking help and, in fact, it takes great strength to realize that and take the first step.
About Me | Kara Smith, LCMFT
Since 2002, I have been working with families and couples to help them strengthen bonds, heal, and grow. I am passionate about helping clients thrive and assisting them during difficult times. The family is a core component of our society and the unity of the couple guiding that family is integral to the family’s health and to the well being of its members.
You might think it is a stretch to say that our work in the therapy office makes the world a better place, but I have seen how anger, hurt, resentments, can tear a couple or family apart. And I have seen how torn apart families struggle financially, emotionally, and even physically. All of this impacts those around them and consequentially, affects the world we live in.
I have worked in many clinical environments and I bring a wealth of experience from each opportunity. As a family therapist, I am comfortable guiding my clients through some of the most serious crises a family can face such as drug addiction, self-injury, school refusal, and separation/divorce. At times, when working with children or adolescents, I must do so without their parents present. However, I believe parental involvement and insight is of utmost importance for change to occur, so they will always be supported, involved, and kept informed about concerns and the progress we are making.
As a couple’s therapist, I have worked with couples whose goals range from getting a relationship “check up” to deciding whether or not to end their marriage. I challenge couples to look closely at their communication style, their patterns, and their expectations, and work hard to step out of their comfort zone in order to help their relationship thrive. I feel it is very important that I connect with both members of the couple – I want every party involved to feel heard, understood, and not blamed. Additionally, I specialize in guiding couples through the discovery, coping, and, ultimately, the healing from an infidelity, whether the couple decides to stay together or not.
I also have significant experience working with individuals who are struggling with relationships, depression, and difficult life transitions. Training as a couples and family therapist fully prepares clinicians to provide excellent individual therapy.
I consider myself an easy-going, light-hearted therapist who offers a welcoming and safe space for clients to explore their concerns. At the same time, I do not mince words about how challenging the therapeutic process can be for a client – but I will support you through the hard work because with effort comes the reward of growth and clarity.
I was born and raised in Maryland and consider myself a local in this ever-changing area. I love the waterways, the mountains, and the calm that these open spaces provide us. I consider the therapy room a space that brings calm – the therapeutic process is a time to slow down and re-evaluate ourselves, our family, and our relationships in a safe, warm environment.
About Me | Elizabeth Kamnikar, MS, LCPC
I have been practicing counseling since 2013. I received my Masters in Counseling from Johns Hopkins University, and during that time was awarded Maryland School Counseling Association’s Graduate Student of the Year Award. Once my Masters was completed I continued on to obtain my Post Masters Certificate in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, also from Johns Hopkins University. I was fortunate to spend a period of that time doing my internship at Hopkins. The majority of my experience beyond this practice has been as a school-based counselor in both Montgomery County Public Schools and Frederick County Public Schools.
My Areas of Specialty
I work with individuals of all ages on understanding and management of anxiety and depression. In addition, I specialize in working with children and adolescents who need support in emotional regulation, executive functioning and/or social skills. My experience in the school setting enables me to help families understand and navigate the challenges of working with a school to support a child who needs additional support. I teach kids and families the tools needed to successfully navigate big feelings when they arise at home and at school.
I am passionate about supporting families who have children with special needs. When a child has special needs, it does not just impact their life, but the lives of those closest to them. Oftentimes, children with special needs, their siblings, and their parents struggle with feeling overwhelmed, isolated, confused, angry, and/or sad. My goal is to support the entire family with the unique challenges that face them.