Orna Goldwater, PhD Psychologist and Life Coach

Pain, sadness and Fear are OK

Ruminating is not necessary.

Learn how to Say NO to Suffering.  

Welcome to My Practice in Washington DC.  In my personal and professional experience, we can't expect to have no pain, no sadness, or fear.  Life, at its nature introduces all of these feelings as well as the other feelings in the positive end of the spectrum.  I am a collaborative and interactive psychologist.  My goal is to first, learn from the patient what hurts, but also, in what way they prolong their suffering.  I help my patients to accept the possibility. that all emotions are equally valuable.  I allow them (at least in my office) to explore and experience a wide spectrum of emotions in response to different aspects of their reality.  Suffering happens as a result of thinking that having negative feelings is AWFULL.  

Problems are often created when we stop the normal flow of emotion-cognition-action.  We try and "forbid" certain emotions, or we elevate other emotions.  

 Specializing in multi generational approach to solving behavioral, health, or mental health problems, I help patients address long standing positive and negative familial patterns related to the permission to talk about problems openly.  As we develop tolerance to imperfection, to the possibility that no one is above pain, sadness, and fear, we can stay in the rational realm, when addressing life challenges.   


Orna Goldwater, PhD


I am a collaborative and interactive psychologist. Practicing independently, Since 1996, I bring to my patients a common sense approach to understanding and managing psychological and other life problems. As a clinical, family & health psychologist, I speciliaze in treating symptoms associated with Depression, Anxiety, adjustment disorders that impct mood and fear, and may physical problems that have both pysical, psychological, and behavioral /cognitive symptoms.  These conditions include: ADD/ADHD, Addictions, Fibromyalgia, Chronic and deteriorationf conditions such as muscular dystrophy ans parkinson's.  I believe that conversations about change lead to repeated exposure and practicing the target behaviors till they become natural.  Motivation is an important aspect that seperates success from failure.  



Most Patients seeking help in my office are seeking help in coping or improving their skills to live a competent and successful adult lives.  Their desires usually involve managing three basic roles, personal/familial interactions, career choice and development and managing or regulating emotions to be productive and be acceptable to others.  Managing or coping with mental illness can be one element impacting their performance. 

Adulthood involves all the following: managing life decisions when combining feelings with rationality.  When decisions are made based on one of the two (either emotion, or rational thinking), the outcome is often disappointing.  Managing Emotions, Coping with Depression, 

Becoming healthy and well functioning adults or individuation is one of the primary goals of patients seeking help in my office.


Addictive behavior is one of the methods people use to avoid growing up and becoming fully functioning adults.  To change addictive habits, patients first need to acknowledge that their addictive behaviors are interfering with their ability to reach their personal or professional goals.   Denial, blaming, or other methods of accusing others or their circumstances will make it difficult to take on the needed challenge or conjure up the motivation needed to change. 

Addictions (alcohol, substances, angry and lashing out behavior, food, sex, shopping, internet, or just passivity and sleeping), are methods we find to avoid reality or hold on to fantasies that often lead to self sabotage or chaos. 


Childhood Disorders

As a family psychologist, I sought extensive training to help understand how to best help new mothers prepare for motherhood.  How to best allow the father to become an integral part of the nurturing bond that leads to raising an optimistic and resilient child.  One in every fiveor six new mothers experience mild, moderate, to severe symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression.  One in every ten fathers is demonstrating symptoms associated with post Partum.  Depressed and anxious parents are unable to be present in a loving way and to allow for healthy bonding and the connection that the baby needs to help foster the healthy development of the regions of his/her brain most responsible for regulating emotions, self calming, and healthy exploration.

Childhood disorders can be genetically endowed, environmentally induced, or the result of an acute or repetitive traumatic experiences.  Correctly identifying primary, secondary, or tertiary causes to symptoms that become evident in early or middle childhood help build a treatment plan that will involve the child and others who interact with him/her.  Recent research has made it clear that treating the child without including and coaching the adults is far less successful in comparison to choosing a team approach. 


and other physically based disorders

Attention Deficit is not specific to children.  It is a physiological syndrome with positive and negative traits that impact people from early childhood till late adult life.  ADD/ADHD may impact some or all the following: sleep, attention, concentration, tendency to procrastinate, anxiety about forgetfulness due to impact on short term memory, organization, emotional regulation, a tendency to act impulsively, due to underdeveloped filters, difficulty reading or interpreting social cues, and boredom.  In United States there has been a trend of over diagnosing and over medicating ADD/ADHD.  Differential diagnosis is of outmost importance since in childhood many different disorders (especially childhood anxiety and depression) look similar to ADD/HD. 

Treating Childhood Disorders

Physical and psychological disorders can start during gestation, as part of our biological/chemical make up, or due to childhood trauma.  Helping parents to understand the origins of their children's symptoms and becoming versed in how to manage symptoms without destroying the child's self worth and self image is one of the priorities in my office.  

Managing Sleep

Over the last decade, researchers found links between sleep disorders and variety of physical and psychological difficulties.  Restful sleep is linked with improved attention, increased vitality, reduced anger/irritability, reduced fatigue, reduced addictive behaviors such as smoking, over eating, drinking, and risk taking behavior.  Many engage in such addictive behavior in order to self-calm. I encourage my patients to explore sleep hygiene: behaviors that aim on calming your body and mind a head of time before going to bed.  If behavioral change does not lead to relief, I will work with your physicians to seek a formal sleep study and explore available procedures.  Sleep experts suggest pursuing activities that help clearing the breathing pathways, swimming, hot showers, weight loss, reduced alcohol consumption, reduced smoking, are all areas that can help improve sleep.  In my practice, the most important aspect of the treatment is teaching patients to calm their brains so they can rest.

Managing Relationships

Couples Therapy

Managing Fights & Conflicts

Relationship rules and expectations


Current research in happiness indicate that having meaningful connection is the one single item related to physical and psychological health.  Dr. Goldwater dedicated her professional life to utilizing the state of the art of research related to health family functioning and translating them to skills that people can learn and utilize at home.    Over the last two decades we family psychology research, research about attachment, and the impact of healthy intimate connection on all aspects of human functioning.  It is fascinating to see how individuals and groups respond to research-based interventions and skills training.  Emotionally Focused Couple's Therapy & The Gottman Institute are just examples of how researchers and practitioners use data to change people's lives.  . In this practice, learning how to engage in meaningful intimate relationships is the key to positive outcomes not only at home, but at work, and in our social communities.  

 People with strong interpersonal skills tend to be trusted at work and promoted more often than individuals who are just skilled in their chosen profession without good "bedside manners". In her practice, Dr. Goldwater focuses on improving her patient's ability to relate to self and others.