“I know what it's like to feel very misunderstood and isolated.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I've always been interested in understanding people, which might be because I always felt like an outsider. But, really, my own mental health journey and experience as a client have inspired me, probably the most, to become a therapist. I struggled with my mental health, and I was stuck in a dark place for a long time, which was extremely isolating. I battled a lot of shame, negative thoughts, and felt isolated and misunderstood. I made some self-destructive choices when I was trying to feel better or more connected. Fast forward and I've now been in my own therapy for years. I know exactly how difficult it can be to open up and be vulnerable, but it's been so worth it. I'm so far from that dark place I was in and have been for a while now, and my therapists played a big role in helping me get here. I aspire to be this resource for others.
What should someone know about working with you?
I work with adults and LGBTQ+ teens. I keep my intake process streamlined: I have a consent form, one intake form with questions pertaining to history of experiences, relationships, and goals for therapy, and an assessment of most concerning symptoms to help address and assess diagnosis. In sessions, I am very flexible and patient with people, but I also am very engaging because I know that has benefitted me when I have been a client in therapy. My goal is to help you feel safe, open, and willing to explore where you'd like to improve or grow. I highlight patterns in thinking and behaving, help you identify your feelings effectively, and then provide tools, education, and important questions to explore so you can understand yourself, improve daily mood, move toward goals, and improve your relationships. It's important we learn to be more present and kinder to ourselves and make choices that truly resonate with how we want our lives to feel.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I plan to and have scheduled some future trauma training as well as more mind-body and mindfulness-related training, as I have found those to be especially helpful. I also plan to dive more into shame and self-esteem tools, as shame is a consistent topic I discuss both with trauma and LGBTQ+ clientele. Collaborating with other providers is helpful because sometimes they can refer training to me while offering different approaches that inspire me to explore new interventions.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I come from a household where my father came from privilege and my mother grew up in low-income areas. My parents are of two different races and practice two different religions. I am also gay, and not only am I gay, but I practice genderfluid expression activities, like being a drag queen (it’s more of a visual artist over a performer, but nonetheless). Most of my journey has been trying to see where I fit in and sometimes feeling like there was no one community I was fully a part of or feeling like members of all communities felt like I was an alien of some sort. Because of this, I know what it's like to feel very misunderstood and isolated. The same open-mindedness I needed on my own journey to accept all parts of myself and feel connected to others is what drives my cultural competency in my work. I have viewed the world from multiple perspectives my entire life. In my experiences with trauma work, I have worked with people of all religions, races, ages, and sexual and gender identities.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
We are having more conversations around gender and sexual identity. Labels aren't so important, but I am excited that people are opening their minds to the fluidity and ever-changing aspects of how we express and connect with others. This is something I felt very misunderstood about growing up, and it's refreshing to see more counselors become more versed and educated in this area.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
The primary research I remember doing in graduate school was mostly based on internalized homophobia and the wellbeing of children in different home settings (single parents, divorced, etc.). This helped me understand shame and attachment better. I did not engage in much research outside of the research papers assigned to us.
“The same open-mindedness I needed on my own journey to accept all parts of myself and feel connected to others is what drives my cultural competency in my work.”