“I create a safe space where people can open up by showing up as a real person myself.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
As corny as it sounds, being a therapist chose me. I have my own experiences that were traumatic but had little awareness of what a social worker was; I only knew I desired to help people like me. I have always been drawn to youth, working with them since I was a young person myself and being able to use my creative interests to better relate to them in sessions. This work made me want to learn more about art therapy techniques, once I realized art was a way for my clients to feel more comfortable expressing themselves. I desired to become more culturally-competent, as therapy interventions are very Eurocentric and therapy is already too taboo in the communities I related to most, I wanted to shift the perspective of how to heal. I have worked in many different settings, such as group homes, schools, residential homes, community agencies, and virtual apps. This allows me to adapt well to most of my clients and gives me different perspectives on how to tackle issues.
What should someone know about working with you?
Working with me involves stepping outside of the rigid box that therapy sessions can sometimes come in. I create a safe space where people can open up by showing up as a real person myself. I use a lot of expressive arts as interventions, which can be interesting and uncover the subconscious. Progress is based on the goals established in a collaborative treatment plan after identifying the presenting issues. I am constantly assigning homework so that my clients can practice skills outside of sessions. I enjoy working with open-minded and creative clients. I enjoy all ages, as I can learn from all points of view.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I am becoming more proficient in working with trauma. Though I am trauma-informed, I am currently becoming certified in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, which is typically effective for youth who have experienced trauma and are experiencing symptoms due to that traumatic experience. I desire to continue exploring trauma in my career. I typically go back to suicidal assessments and solution-focused training. I desire to learn even more about human sexuality and plan to become certified in the future. I collaborate with providers to increase mental health awareness in marginalized communities and create art that can positively affect the mental health of others.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I experienced many hardships growing up, which became sound lessons that have been helpful in my career. I had a nomadic experience, so challenging different perspectives comes easy since I have had the privilege of being exposed to many different cultures. That being said, my attachment to colonialism and how it upholds white supremacy and its impediment in all institutions is very distant. This helps me be more curious than judgmental about people's identities and life experiences and gives me an awareness of how oppressive tools may be impacting my client's mental wellness. I am always open to learning about new cultures and subcultures and helping communities dismantle a colonized mindset in which they feel inferior due to not being part of the majority group.
“I use a lot of expressive arts as interventions, which can be interesting and uncover the subconscious”