“My personal experiences as an immigrant stoked my desire to understand the impact of trauma and be a part of the healing process for others.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I’ve always been interested in the role of trauma and adversity in shaping the way we view and experience the world. My personal experiences as an immigrant stoked my desire to understand the impact of trauma and be a part of the healing process for others. Through my training and practice, I’ve realized how profoundly these early experiences carve a groove into every aspect of who we are as people. While my dissertation focused on the impact of trauma on physical health and broadened my understanding of the research, my work with children and adults has allowed me to see the powerful role therapy can play in bringing these unknown parts of ourselves into the light.
What should someone know about working with you?
I believe therapy is a highly subjective and deeply personal experience; I consider myself to be the expert on mental health and human behavior, but you are the expert on you. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what you want your life to look like, examine what's getting in the way, commit to the goal of living your best life, and take the steps to get there. My job is to provide an environment of safety, trust, and compassion in order to support you in doing the work and to hold you accountable to yourself. I have found that this requires a balance of flexibility and play, but also rules and structure. The journey can be brutal but beautiful, and it’s so, so worth it.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
Starting therapy can feel like a big decision and an overwhelming process, but it can also be one of the best things you ever do for yourself! When you participate in therapy, you are committing to carving out time, space, and resources for taking care of yourself. This self-care often involves gently examining your life with the guidance, support, and nonjudgmental ear of an expert who can help you identify what’s working for you and what’s not. Therapists have the tools to help you figure out what’s keeping you from fully living the life you want and can help you create a roadmap for getting where you want to go. Therapy is an investment you make in yourself, your current wellbeing, and your future.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
The origins of psychology lie in a white, male-centered, hierarchical approach where the therapist had a position of power. We’ve grown in leaps and bounds as a field, embracing social consciousness, diversity, and the experiences of overlooked communities. While we still have a long way to go, we are making strides in dismantling the power hierarchy, creating trauma-informed therapeutic spaces, and giving our clients a voice. This is particularly crucial for trauma survivors who often feel robbed of their agency and autonomy. A space where power is decentralized allows for growth and healing through a collaborative, empowering therapeutic relationship that encourages equity, promotes curiosity and exploration, and positions the client as the expert on their lived experience.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
My research focuses on how adversity impacts health. When I started exploring this topic, I was blown away by how profoundly our early experiences impact all aspects of our lives. From our perception of ourselves and others, to the decisions we make, the risks we take, what we perceive as stressful, and how we cope, our early experiences are highly influential. The most eye-opening aspect of all was the impact of adversity on the body, including its impact on pain, sleep, and medical conditions. This includes diseases I never imagined could be linked to trauma, such as autoimmune disorders. I bring this vital lens into my therapeutic work, helping clients understand how their experiences impact their lives and relationships as well as the body they each inhabit and the connection they have with it.
“A space where power is decentralized allows for growth and healing through a collaborative, empowering therapeutic relationship.”