“I consider it to be sacred work to be able to sit with individuals, kids and adults and have them talk about their deepest fears, secrets and traumatic experiences,” says Jenn Abrams, Licensed Professional Counselor and Board-Certified art therapist.
Abrams is the one-woman powerhouse behind Phoenix Counseling, which has been in the Newport News area since August 2019. Her office is located in City Center at Oyster Point. Although Abrams is the only practitioner at Phoenix Counseling, she has served the Newport News community with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Phoenix Counseling provides individual, family and art therapy.
Abrams mainly treats children, teens and young adults, and she occasionally works with families. She treats a few adults on a case-by-case basis, but prefers to apply her skills to younger people. She specializes in trauma work, but says that she addresses all kinds of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, stress, self-injury, suicidal thoughts, grief, substance abuse and family and home issues. Abrams says she became a therapist because of her passion for helping people and her love for deeper conversations.
“I like hearing about what troubles people, and I’ve learned that I’m intuitive and have the ability to listen,” she says.
When asked why she works primarily with children and teens, Abrams says, “I find younger people to be incredibly resilient. I love the energy they bring, especially [when I work] with teenagers. I find that younger people have more willingness to change; adults tend to be more settled in their habits. Younger people are really honest and candid.”
Abrams earned her master’s degree in art therapy and counseling, which she described as an “intense program” with art and psychology prerequisites. While at school, she studied not only art therapy itself, but also the general counseling process and its importance.
“I wanted to be a fresh and different therapist for kids,” she says of art therapy. “I wanted them to have a creative approach for counseling that was more ‘out of the box.’”
Abrams says that art therapy can be used in a lot of different ways, especially as a communication tool for clients who may find difficulty articulating their experiences through words alone. She finds that a person’s thoughts and feelings can often be expressed more freely through art than through speech, and that art can aid clients who “like to have their hands busy while they talk,” making them feel more comfortable while opening up.
“People will remember trauma in images, but don’t have the words to describe it,” Abrams says. She attributes this to the importance of symbolism and the usage of imagery to convey thoughts, and she says that art acts as a non-threatening way to communicate with someone.
Phoenix Counseling has definitely seen a rise in people seeking treatment for mental health issues since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Abrams attributes this to a general rise in peoples’ anxiety levels and “stress in the world in general.”
“The isolation has been hard on kids and teens with online school,” she adds, referring to quarantine protocols. “Folks who were already struggling are struggling more.”
Luckily for them, Abrams stands ready to assist in whatever ways she can through Phoenix Counseling. In a year as tumultuous as 2020, mental health services are needed more than ever.
When she isn’t working, Abrams enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones and Stella, her Boston terrier, and “creating art, of course.”
“I love it,” she says about her line of work. “It’s stressful emotionally, but I really do love it. It’s not a field for someone to go into if your heart’s not in it. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do this work.”
TO THE POINT:
Address: 729 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. C-6, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Jenn Abrams
Business: Mental health, counseling services