Elizabeth U. Willingham, PHD, LPC, NCC
Hi, I am Elizabeth! Welcome to GIFT! I serve in many roles at GIFT. I am a co-founder/owner, a counselor (LPC), a counselor supervisor (LPCS), an energy medicine practitioner (HTCP), and an integrative health coach (IHC).
I have been practicing for over 25 years specializing in stress reduction and trauma with children, adolescents, adults, families, and groups. I have practiced and taught in the areas of child development, attachment, parenting, play therapy, grief and loss, infertility, premature birth, oncology, chronic illness, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and trauma. I am fascinated with the mind-body-spirit connection and the many disciplines and modalities of healing. The academic part of me loves to deep dive into the integration of neuroscience, the nervous system, quantum physics, the science and spirit of energy medicine, mindfulness, consciousness, and embodied contemplative practice. The healer part of me is fulfilled by being fully present with others and connecting deeply in our shared human experience, and my inner child loves to explore, be creative, and play. I may greet you barefooted, bring out my art supplies, play in my sand tray, turn on music, or walk and talk with you if we work together.
My style is relational, compassionate, non-judgmental, and open. I am emotionally sensitive, intuitive, curious, and comfortable with complexity. I focus on my clients’ strengths, celebrate each step, big or small, and relish the moments of joy. I also hold space for the expression of life’s pain and suffering. I believe that healing exists in the ability to embrace the whole of our experiences. As an empath, I will share laughs with you (laughter is good medicine), tears with you (good cries release and heal), and everything in between as each moment of your journey is important to me.
I practice from a mind-body-spirit approach which promotes mindfulness and provides a holistic framework for self-discovery, personal growth, and transformation. I work with clients to recognize and enhance their strengths and resources, identify sources of stress, and create a plan for wellness.
I use a variety of evidence-based practices including Mind-Body-Medicine, Play Therapy/Expressive Arts, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and Integrative Health Coaching (IHC).
I also use complementary approaches to medicine to enhance the healing process and cultivate self-care and self-compassion. I am a Healing Touch Certified Practitioner (HTCP) and certified as a Dancing Mindfulness Instructor. I have received training in trauma informed yoga and completed Reiki levels 1 and 2. I offer the Mind Over Medicine program for healing and preventative health developed by Lissa Rankin, M.D. Dr. Rankin is the founder of the Whole Health Medical Institute and the bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine, The Fear Cure, The Anatomy of a Calling, and Sacred Medicine.
Personally, I grew up in Greenville surrounded by family and friends. I met my husband in college, and we have been married for 25 years. We are blessed with three beautiful, spirited daughters and have a golden retriever and three cats in the Willingham family. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, cooking, and wandering through antique markets. I appreciate art, music, nature, and laughter. My love for God and my family inspires me to continue along my path to becoming my highest and healthiest self. I would love to meet you and learn more about how we can work together!
Education and Clinical Experience
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). I graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. I completed my graduate studies at Georgia State University where I earned a Master’s in Professional Counseling, an Education Specialist degree in Professional Counseling, and a Doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Practice with a specialization in trauma, play therapy, and group counseling.
I have worked in the mental health field in various settings including child advocacy centers, schools and universities, residential treatment, hospitals, and private practice. While living in Atlanta, I worked at SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center providing therapy services and forensic evaluations. Additionally, I taught counseling, play therapy, and supervision courses in the Clinical Mental Health program at GSU and conducted groups and research on bullying, gang violence, and sand tray group counseling in Metro Atlanta. I moved back to Greenville in 2007 after our twins were born 3 months prematurely. I began teaching at Clemson University, Webster, and USC Upstate in 2008 and became the Clinical Director at Julie Valentine Center in 2009. In 2010, we welcomed our third daughter. In 2013, I joined Upstate Oncology Associates and began private practice. Kelsey and I created GIFT Counseling Center for Wellness in 2014.