Janna Frieman, MFT, MSSP (Associate Therapist)

Janna Frieman, MFT, MSSP (Associate Therapist)

Janna Frieman (she/her/hers) is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson University’s Couple & Family Therapy Program, where she focused on couple dynamics, grief therapy and trauma therapy, and identity and values challenges for bicultural and first-generation young adults. Janna works with a variety of individuals, couples, and adult sibling pairs. A member of the queer community herself, Janna feels honored to work with LGBT/queer/trans individuals and couples. She is kink/BDSM competent and supportive, and well-versed in the joys and challenges of polyamory and open relationships. Janna has also received training in the Gottman method of couples therapy. Prior to her career as a therapist, Janna worked in several social justice movements and has an M.S. in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.

Janna has a deeply felt confidence that everyone can grow towards their fullest potential with the right support. Many people seek therapy because they feel depressed, hopeless, trapped, or anxious in ways that prevent them from fully living their lives and pursuing their goals. Others come because they realize that old ideas, patterns, or behaviors which once protected or helped them have stopped serving them, and they are feeling the call to growth and change. Some may feel disconnected from their loved ones and wish to reconnect in a healthy and safe way, while others may be stuck in cycles of conflict in their relationships that feel deeply frustrating and seem to defy attempts to do things differently. Janna helps her clients identify their strengths and build new capacities in order to increase their sense of power and agency and experience more tranquility in day to day life.

Janna works systemically, which means that she sees each human being in their unique context and understands how life circumstances can shape our thoughts, behaviors, and options. Where we come from and what we have been through matters deeply.

She welcomes all individuals and couples, and finds particular satisfaction helping people navigate:

Janna is not an addictions counselor, but enjoys working with those in recovery from all manner of addictive or compulsive behaviors.

Why See a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) are trained in a different approach to mental health and wellness than our respected peers in the field, personal counselors and social workers. Though they often see individuals and couples, their perspective is rooted in Family Systems Theory, which views each persons’ individual psychology as connected to the psychologies of the people who raised them and shepherded their psycho-social development. Janna knows that every family is unique and has its own ways of being, but that all families deeply affect the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of their members. This includes a family’s strengths as well as its struggles. During the first few sessions with a Marriage and Family Therapist, clients should expect to be asked questions about their childhood, their guardians and other close adults, and how their family functioned in times of joy and times of stress. Of course, clients may always decline to answer any questions they prefer not to answer!

A family therapist is likely to be skeptical of ‘family narratives’ about who is the “scapegoat,” “bad seed,” or “golden child.” They know that these simplistic stories develop for many reasons and that even the most positive ones can be harmful, constraining, and can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other symptoms and conditions. Janna’s clients include those who have been labeled the ‘perfect child’ as well as those who struggled under the weight of being seen as the ‘bad one.’ Most adults can benefit from examining, questioning, and reimagining the stories their parents told them about themselves, and can find freedom and improved health as they (re)develop a story of their own.

Janna wrote her capstone thesis on the theories of Dr. Murray Bowen (1913-1990), the ‘father’ of the field of family therapy who became interested in why some psychiatric patients would improve when removed from their family environment only to relapse when returned to their usual people and places. He developed concepts for assessment and diagnosis of families and their individual members that are separate from (though related to) the DSM diagnoses most frequently used in the United States.

In her capstone thesis, Janna examined how Murry Bowen’s concepts of family emotional health can be used to help bi-cultural and first generation young adults, who have the added challenge of balancing the competing expectations of multiple sets of cultural expectations.

More about Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are rampant in our culture, and everyone has an opinion as to why this might be. As a Family Therapist, Janna is trained to assist clients in managing their depression and/or anxiety through a combination of behavioral self-care and excavations of deep inner conflicts or worries, many of which have something to do with certain core themes: living up to expectations, fears of failure or unworthiness, confusion about goals and authentic desires, or fear of the consequences of speaking deep truths. Every client is unique in this regard, with their own very particular life experiences and contexts that shape their own core themes.

More About C-PTSD, Attachment Issues, and Relational Anxiety

Janna has a strong interest and affinity for working with adults who identify as having C-PTSD, “attachment issues” (insecure, avoidant, or disorganized attachment), or otherwise experience anxiety with close relationships and romantic partnership. She employs principals from Internal Family Systems theory and attachment theory, as well as some concepts from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, to assist these clients in developing greater security in relationships and the ability to self-soothe in times of emotional distress. She firmly believes that many of the behaviors and emotions that clients struggle with likely formed for the best reasons– the universal goals of safety and self-protection. As such, they need to be understood and honored even as clients seek more effective alternatives.

More about Couples Therapy

Long-term relationships and marriage can be difficult. Couples find themselves challenged by the demands of intimacy, compromise, and making important decisions together. In a long life together, health crises, grief, dependency, and caretaking may strain even the strongest partnership.

Some couples may find themselves stuck in loops, having the same argument over and over again. Others may be at a crossroads regarding lifestyle choices or future plans, or dealing with the fallout from infidelity or other violations of trust which can shake the very foundation of a partnership– or reveal cracks that were there all along.

Janna meets with couples under the assumption that no one person is completely to blame for share problems– that all parties are responsible for their part and can grow from even the most difficult relationship experiences. She helps couples understand their cycles and loops, and provides coaching and intervention to improve communication. As a family therapist by training, clients can expect Janna to inquire about what each member of the couple has learned about marriage and partnership from their families of origin and other formative relationships, and assess whether the past may be impacting the present in ways obvious or subtle.

More about Opening Up/Non-monogamy/Polyamory

Janna has experience working with individuals and dyads who are exploring the wide range of ethical non-monogamies. While often challenging and requiring flexibility, creativity, and not a small dash of courage, Janna is confident that non-monogamy can be a healthy and generative choice for some individuals and couples. Janna created and administered a training to her colleagues at The Center for Growth on the basics of non-monogamy, including the ranges of ‘openness’ along the sexual and emotional spectrums (from swinging to polyamory and everything in between) and common pitfalls and challenges along the way.

More about Queer/Trans-affirming Therapy

As a queer person, Janna knows how important it is that clients can trust that they won’t be pathologized based on gender or sexuality. On the contrary, Janna provides a therapeutic environment that is affirming of movement toward being one’s most authentic self as a pathway to improved health and well-being. Janna can help queer clients identify obstacles and work to identify, address, and reduce sources of dysphoria, seek and create safety, and examine any internalized homo-and trans- phobias that can be so distressing to queer clients living in a cis-heteronormative culture. Therapy can be a safe place to process the impact of homo- and trans- phobia on clients’ lives, relationships, and community.

More about Kink/BDSM/Alternative Sexual Practices

Janna is a kink/BDSM informed therapist, and provides a judgement-free zone for clients to share about the full spectrum of their sexual and sensual experiences. For some clients, kinkiness is just one dimension of who they are– and they can bring their whole selves to therapy with Janna. For others, complex emotions may make their sexual preferences and desires feel fraught or painful, and want a confidential space to make sense of their sexual practices or preferences and find peace with them, or to brainstorm ways to experience their kinks safely in their romantic-sexual life.


NPI: 1013582915

Licensure:

  • Pennsylvania: Working towards licensure

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