Dr. Carla Messenger

Thank you for visiting my website, and welcome! People often ask me if I have a particular theoretical orientation. Although I was trained as a cognitive behavioral therapist, my approach in helping clients integrates principles from a number of theories and practices. However, my goal is to first engage clients in the process of therapy, which can be scary to someone who has not previously been in therapy. Once we have established a trusting client-therapist relationship, I prefer to use evidence-based practices, which means that scientific data have shown they are effective. Such practices include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), family systems therapy, interpersonal therapy, and mindfulness strategies.

I am a licensed clinical psychologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I have been working in private practice since 2007. Initially employed by two local private group practices, I established my own practice in 2011. I invite you to read more about my values, vision and mission.

I earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the George Washington University in 2006, and I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Children’s National Medical Center. Although I specialized in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents throughout my graduate training, I now enjoy serving clients of all ages, including adults. Areas of particular interest include the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, psychological problems related to chronic medical illness/chronic pain, mood disorders, and attachment disorders.

I enjoy working with individuals who are adopted or those who plan to adopt children. I conduct psychological evaluations for individuals who are in the process of adopting a child, as part of their application process, and I have collaborated with many adoption agencies nationally and internationally. I also work with children who have been adopted and may have challenges adjusting to family life.

I also enjoy conducting psychological and educational evaluations for children, adolescents and adults. I find the assessment process to be fascinating and enjoy helping individuals and their families better understand themselves and each other. I also collaborate with schools and other medical and mental health professionals to ensure that the test results are well understood and that clients receive comprehensive services, as needed, within the broader community.

In addition to clinical practice, I have always found being part of an academic community to be very rewarding. I have taught as an adjunct and a clinical assistant professor at the George Washington University and also at Argosy University (Arlington, Va.). Teaching, training, and clinical supervision are among my favorite professional activities, as is public speaking. I am passionate about raising awareness of mental health issues within the community.

My hope as a clinician, instructor, supervisor, mentor, consultant, and advocate is to educate diverse audiences about how to obtain and maintain mental health, wellness and quality of life. I believe that humans are resilient. We can experience traumatic events, tragedy, and loss: yet bounce back, regain our strength, and achieve incredible healing. 

We can also become empowered through our triumphs, achieve our goals, and discover the incredible potential that we may never know we had.

It is my pleasure to meet people where they are during difficult, challenging seasons and to help them as they begin the process of healing and meeting their potential.