AHW Volunteer Spotlight: Elizabeth Earnshaw, Philadelphia, PA Chapter
Several years ago, when Elizabeth Earnshaw and her husband were getting married, instead of a wedding registry they chose a donation registry. Reading through the donation options, none really spoke to her—until she saw A Home Within.
Elizabeth had provided emergency foster care in Philadelphia, and as a therapist worked with a lot of children after Hurricane Katrina who were at some point in foster care or went into foster care. “My heart was there with them,” says Elizabeth. “And my husband was adopted. So we just have a big spot in our hearts for those trying to navigate through living conditions and the mixed feelings that come along with that.”
After finding A Home Within through her wedding donation registry, Elizabeth decided to become an AHW Volunteer Therapist. She has been providing therapy to twin siblings since 2017, beginning when they were in middle school. She has now watched them graduate from high school, an experience she truly cherishes.
As is very common for youth in foster care, Elizabeth’s clients had many experiences with therapists prior to being matched with her through A Home Within. “A lot of the time they get diagnosed with all these things by various therapists who don’t get to know them,” Elizabeth says, noting that this is an issue she faces with many of her clients. She believes that it is not necessarily the fault of the therapist but rather insurance that only allows for a minimum number of sessions, resulting in rash diagnoses.
Clients often reach Elizabeth very frustrated and fed up with counselors, psychologists, and social workers. “I think my AHW clients really like how A Home Within gave them a more long-term opportunity,” she says. “I think it has been a great experience. Coming in, the twins knew we could meet as long term as they wanted, and they have really taken advantage of that. When you know someone for a year or two, it destigmatizes the person and moves out of this diagnostic model that might not work for children going through such trauma. Some things just can’t be understood through a short-term relationship.”
Elizabeth describes her journey to becoming a psychologist as not very straightforward. She began studying to become a teacher and ended up with a degree in organizational development, which is essentially the psychology of companies. She then went to school to become a relationship therapist in order to provide therapy to couples and families. In Louisiana she worked to help rebuild mental health programming after Katrina. She later moved to Philadelphia, where she opened her practice, A Better Life Therapy.
In addition to her private practice, Elizabeth operates her Liz Listens account with over 200,000 followers, teaches classes, and has a book coming out in November. Available November 30th, I Want This to Work is a book designed to help couples navigate the complexities of modern life together. Elizabeth has an enormous and growing social media audience, and posts nearly every day to educate others about how to have healthy relationships.
Elizabeth really appreciates the long-term support A Home Within offers to both clients and therapists. She also appreciates the access to online therapy, especially through the pandemic.
“It’s an amazing experience,” says Elizabeth of A Home Within. “It gives therapists the opportunity to truly use their skills to help those who have experienced trauma, who wouldn’t usually have access to this type of assistance. You get this support network, the consultation groups, and continued education. It is an hour out of your week, and it’s an amazing way to utilize your skills.”