Jason Butler, Associate Professor in the Integral Counseling Psychology Master's program at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, CA. Liz Abrams

Associate Professor
Integral Counseling Psychology
School of Professional Psychology and Health (SPPH)

PhD, University of Utah

MA, Rollins College, Florida; BA, Rollins College, Florida

Elizabeth (Liz) Abrams, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Integral Counseling Psychology program at CIIS. She is also a licensed psychologist with a small private practice, and serves as a clinical supervisor at Sage Institute in Berkeley. She earned her PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Utah in 2014, and an MA in Mental Health Counseling and BA in English literature/Women’s Studies from Rollins College, in Winter Park, FL. A few identities Dr. Abrams holds dear are identifying as queer, feminist, white, Arab-American (Syrian), cisgender woman (she/they pronouns), and as a long-time activist and seeker of collective liberation.  

Clinically, Liz is grounded in a foundation of interpersonal process, attachment, feminist-multicultural, mindfulness, and liberation psychologies. Over the last 17 years they have worked in a wide range of community, private practice, VA, and educational settings in various modalities (individual, family, group, crisis; short-term and long-term therapy) with diverse communities. She has specialty training and experience in EMDR, clinical hypnosis, mindfulness-based stress reduction, somatic therapies, trauma therapy, and specializes in areas of relationships and relating with self/others; working with LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, and asylum seekers/asylees; burnout and working with activists and helping professionals; working with survivors of developmental and relational trauma, PTSD, intimate partner violence/sexual violence, attachment disruptions; and trauma from oppression/discrimination. 

Over the past five years, Dr. Abrams has had the unique opportunity to train with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and his partner and long-time body work expert, Licia Sky – in trauma therapy methods based in neuroscience and on van der Kolk’s book, The Body Keeps the Score:  Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Liz regularly brings these learnings into their clinical work, supervision, and into the classroom when teaching about various concepts in therapy. Liz views teaching as a collaborative process, a relational process, and as an active process - one in which there is “mutuality,” where everyone in the room holds space as both student and teacher and contributes to the process of knowledge production. At her former institution Dr. Abrams launched a “teaching lab” after receiving inquiries from students to learn how to facilitate the social justice-based engaged pedagogy model. The lab functions similarly to a research lab, and interested students join Liz’s classes as teaching lab assistants and then co-facilitate experiential exercises, group discussions, and contribute to lectures and other activities in the course. Dr. Abrams holds weekly teaching supervision meetings where TAs can discuss “glows and grows” in their teaching practice, ask for and offer support, and brainstorm ideas together.  

Liz’s identity as a researcher is closely tied to her clinical and teaching work, and she was trained as a qualitative methodologist and a participatory action researcher (PAR) by her doctoral mentor, Dr. Sue Morrow. She has published more than ten book chapters and peer reviewed articles in professional journals, presented over 50 scholarly presentations and workshops, collaborated on local, national, and international projects, and sees research as a complement to the everyday work of social justice and grassroots activist communities rather than as an intervention.  

Liz is thrilled to be joining the Core Faculty in the ICP program at CIIS and is really looking forward to building relationships and community with students, staff, and faculty. As Liz is beginning this transition to CIIS in the midst of COVID, and realizing she won’t get to *see* or fully interact with just how vibrant this community is in person yet, she welcomes emails, hellos, questions, CIIS tidbits, recs for good shows/podcasts/books/music/coffee, and hilarious memes!  

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