“I collaborate with individuals to help them overcome barriers to success, to realize and effectively utilize their individual strengths and creativity, and to ultimately allow them to embrace their own sense of humanity.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I have witnessed firsthand the challenges people face in asking for help and finding quality support. Friends and family have been discouraged from seeking mental healthcare due to stigma and oppression. Many in my community lacked the awareness that their unnamed feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, and trauma were directly translating to difficulty in work and school, excessive alcohol use, and frequent gambling. I've seen classmates underestimate the ways that class, gender, sexuality, race, and other intersections of our complex identities impact daily life.
Today, in addition to my community organizing efforts, my practice hones in on the ways that societal ideologies, community institutions, interpersonal interactions, and internalized beliefs can prevent or promote individual prosperity and health.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
I believe that mental health is about overall wellness. Whether someone is confronted with mood issues, a lack of motivation, family obligations, struggles with their identity, or just life in general, our work will begin with a comprehensive assessment and the co-creation of an integrative plan crafted to help them succeed. Ongoing semi-structured sessions will help them become more present, more aligned with their values, and more satisfied with themselves overall. I collaborate with people to foster individualized habits and wellness practices that support a healthier lifestyle which promotes individual well-being and flexibility rather than rigidity. This helps people overcome barriers to success, realize and effectively utilize their individual strengths and creativity, and ultimately embrace their own sense of humanity.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care? If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
Policies and institutions in our society are not adequately providing preventative care, nor do they promote equity in integrating primary, or bodily, and behavioral healthcare. Our decisions are centered not just on time and money, but also on crises, fears, incomplete information, and unhelpful comparisons to others, which can lead to skepticism and stigmatization in seeking care, especially when providers have historically mistreated certain communities in the US. Therapy is a personal choice and an investment. Whether someone is seeking help due to loneliness, sexuality, self improvement, weight loss, or worries and lostness, my integrative lens works to facilitate acceptance and discovery. Individuals working with me drive the pacing and duration of our journey, while I serve as a guide.
Were there lessons in your professional or academic career that left an impression on you, and how has that informed your practice today?
In addition to my social work background, I bring into practice lessons from my majors in Biological Basis of Behavior and Science, Technology, and Society. For example, I learned that bridges built along certain parkways to Long Island were too short for buses and blocked out those who could not afford cars, creating not just physical barriers but also racial and socioeconomic ones. I also learned that women’s pregnancy-related deaths have increased ever since the CDC started tracking them. Even worse, black mothers are dying due to pregnancy-related complications at a rate three to four times higher compared to white mothers. Both lessons showcase the connections among policy, identity, and disparities in care. By using a mindset that incorporates historical, environmental, biological, technological, psychological, and sociocultural factors, I can better help people understand themselves, develop intentionality behind their actions, and ensure that they have supportive people on their side.
What methods do you use to support people when they partner with you?
I use active listening, psychoeducation, reflective statements, and various activities to help individuals increase their sense of fulfillment and well-being. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people build skills and habits based on how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors automatically influence one another; acceptance and commitment therapy helps people be more embracing of all aspects of life, more fully attuned internally and externally, and more committed to personal values. Combining these modalities with motivational interviewing helps people improve their self-awareness by reflecting on uncertainties, ambiguities, and rigid viewpoints. Ultimately, we'll use intrinsic motivation to reach goals and make changes that reduce unwanted behaviors. In addition to the "talk" portion of therapy, I incorporate art, music, writing, and other media as often as necessary to make the process as engaging as possible, and I help people bring their own culture, strengths, and talents into our process.
“Whether someone is seeking help due to loneliness, sexuality, self improvement, weight loss, or worries and lostness, my integrative lens works to facilitate acceptance and discovery. Individuals working with me drive the pacing and duration of our journey, while I serve as a guide.”