Elvan Kama Kurtz, MFT, AAMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Clinical Member of American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy & MFTs Working in Trauma
“You cannot change a part of a system without changing the system itself”
I received my Bachelor’s in psychology and sociology as a double major from Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey in 2016. I continued my higher education at Drexel University, Philadelphia and earned my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2018. I have been in the mental health field for 8 years and in the counseling field for over 3 years. I specialize in depression, anxiety, trauma, anger management, addiction, and any relationship difficulties or dysfunction by working with families, couples, and individuals. I also work with young adults and teenagers. Regardless of the type of therapy I provide, my passion is to bring a relationship piece into your problems and solutions, because I believe “nothing happens in isolation”.
As a young professional who moved to the United States in 2016, I love working with a diverse population. Diversity in age, culture, religion, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender and sexual orientation allows me to get to know you from a biopsychosocial perspective. I serve my clients both in English and in Turkish. I also study topics such as acculturation and assimilation and help with life transitions and adjustments.
Overall my approach is systemic, culturally sensitive and trauma-informed, which allows me to create unique treatment goals to meet the needs of everyone in therapy.
I value the idea of “you cannot change a part of a system without changing the system itself”. For this reason, when you come to therapy with a specific problem in a specific area of your life, I discover your satisfaction & dissatisfaction, and the scope of your problem in other areas of your life which includes, but is not limited to, work/career domain, romantic relationships, family of origin, finances, physical-psychological-emotional health, and social relationships.
It takes courage to go to therapy. Opening up to a stranger can be challenging at times. I appreciate the time that you invest in yourself and your relationships and value your openness and honesty. I also understand the importance of having healthy relationships in our lives, and I build a safe relationship with you by honoring your expectations from therapy.
Therapy modalities that I commonly use are post-modern and mindfulness-based approaches. Other modalities include Narrative Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Structural Family Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT), Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT), Family Systems Therapy, Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT), Bowen and Contextual Theory. I am an eclectic and a humanitarian therapist focusing on skill and relationship building by helping you to discover the strengths you already have.
I provide therapy services to teens/young adults, adults, couples and families dealing with the following issues:
My work with anxiety, depression and other mood disorders includes major depressive disorder, bipolar depression, postpartum depression, specific phobia and generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and panic attacks. I also work with adult hyperactivity and inattentiveness, stress and anger management, and grief and loss. I mainly use Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Narrative Therapy to help my clients to channel their anxieties into effective and productive coping skills and life goals aligned with their values. Any individual therapy can continue in a form of couples or family therapy when it is needed. Deciding on a form of therapy occurs as a result of our mutual decision.
Anxiety, depression and other mood disorders that I treat in teenagers and adults include:
- Depression – Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Depression, Postpartum Depression, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder & Atypical Depression
- Anxiety Disorders – Specific Phobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder, etc.
- Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – Procrastination, Hyperactivity, Inattentiveness
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) & Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
- Life Transitions & Adjustments in a New Life Stage – Employment & Career Choice, Moving, Retirement, Graduation, Immigration, Marriage, Childbirth etc.
- Stress Management – Overwhelming Life Experiences
- Anger Management – Avoidance, Anger Outbursts
- Grief and Loss – Loss of a Loved One, Loss of a Job, Loss of an Identity, Loss of a Culture/Tradition, Loss of a Status, etc.
- Skill Building – Frustration Tolerance, Fear of Success & Failure, Self-Compassion, Distress Tolerance
- LGBTQI+ Health
We discover your own definition of trauma and what it means to you. Individuals vary in their definition of what is little t and what is big T trauma. These traumatic experiences may include stillbirth and miscarriage, grief and loss, accidents or near-death experiences; as well as institutional racism, discrimination, oppression due to any variation in one’s identity (sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, etc), and history of abusive and neglect. This traumatic experience may have happened a few days ago, or in your childhood: They are both equally crucial. Every suffering and pain are real, valid and important. Comorbid problems with trauma are common and treatable. These problems may include, depression, anxiety, substance abuse or difficulty in emotional processing.
Traumatic experiences that I treat in teenagers, adults, couples and families include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Combat Trauma, Physical & Sexual Assault, Abuse Including Childhood Abuse and Domestic Violence
- Emotional Processing – Shame, Guilt, Resentment, Fear, Frustration, Anger, Helplessness, Hopelessness, etc.
- History of Abuse – Sexual, Emotional, Mental, Financial, Physical and Psychological Abuse
- Traumatic Experiences – Childhood Neglect & Abuse, Combat Trauma, Rape & Sexual Assault, Gender & Sexual Orientation Based Violence, Cultural & Racial Trauma, Medical Trauma
The focus of family therapy is mainly on parent-child relationship. By using various evidence-based family therapy modalities, we work on family structure and functioning within a systemic perspective. Every individual in a family affects the family system, and at the same time the family system affects everyone within a family, and included the extended family members, and other larger systems such as culture and/or religion. Any form of family therapy can turn into an individual or couple session when it is needed, and this decision is the mutual decision of me and my clients. Separation and divorce are common family issues that I work on, however healing after infidelity or any other traumatic experience may also require the collaborative effort of the family members.
Family issues that I treat include:
- Nuclear Family Problems – Parent-Child relationship, Family Life Stage Issues, Impact of Parental Subsystem on Children, Impact of Children Subsystem on Couples Functioning
- Single-Parent Family Problems – Visitation and Custody Problems, Disruptions of Extended Family Relationships, Impact of Break-up on Children
- Families in Recovery – Impact of substance use on family
- Families with Illness – Families who have at least one family member in their care suffering from geriatric conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease or other chronic illnesses that require constant care from other family members
- Family Conflict
- Parenting – Positive and Effective Parenting Skill Building & Attachment, Family of Origin Issues, etc.
YOUNG ADULTS / TEENAGERS ISSUES:
Teenagers who are older than 14 years old, can consent to be in treatment without a parent.
- Peer Pressure & Bullying & Fitting-in
- Self- Esteem & Body Image
- Self-Harm & Suicidality
- Identity Issues – Helping to Develop Authentic Self
- Career Counseling
- Relationship Difficulties – Forming and Maintaining Friendships & Romantic Relationships
- Dating & Partner Selection
- Stress & Depression & Anxiety
- Cyber Addiction
- LGBTQI+ Adolescent Health
Relationship formation and maintenance may be challenging. Couples face with different internal and external problems which can affect one’s satisfaction from their relationship. I see couples therapy as a form of family therapy, and together we work on healthy resolutions towards your marital, sexual or pre-marital problems. I work with all types of couples, including hostile couples and conflict avoiders, as well as heterosexual and non-heterosexual couples. I also welcome couples who are in a monogamous relationship, polyamorous relationship, open relationship, long-distance relationship, causal sex relationship and asexual relationship. Any forms of couple therapy can continue in a form of individual or family therapy when it is needed. Deciding on a form of therapy occurs as a result of our mutual decision.
- Communication Issues
- Sexual Issues & Sexual Communication
- Premarital Counseling
- Cohabitation & Codependency
- Healing After Infidelity & Affairs
- Forgiveness & Resentment
- Divorce & Separation – Parent-Friendly Approach over Child-Friendly Approach
- Conflict Resolution
- Strengthen Commitment & Trust
- Emotional & Sexual Intimacy
- Traumatic Life Event & Mutual Loss