“I specialize in working with young people with trauma or complex trauma, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, and I have worked with many who have experienced sexual exploitation, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and parental abuse.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I became a social worker after struggling in my own adolescence and being supported by some amazing therapists. I knew I wanted to be able to do for others what they did for me. I started my career working with adults living with severe and persistent mental illnesses. While I loved it, I knew I wanted to work with young people. I went on to work as a therapist in a high school health center, providing therapy and sexual health counseling. After leaving the clinic, I became the clinical director for Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), working with young people who experienced commercial sexual exploitation. I have also been a per diem social worker at Planned Parenthood for over eight years. I specialize in working with young people with trauma or complex trauma, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, and I have worked with many who have experienced sexual exploitation, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and parental abuse.
What should someone know about working with you?
I am an eclectic therapist who likes to start where the person I am working with is and get to know them! I try different things with clients and see what they like and don't like, and we go from there. I don't believe therapy is one-size-fits-all; different things work for different people. To me, progress looks like small or big changes that help someone get closer to their goals!! I like to use humor as well as pop culture, interests, and hobbies in the therapy process, which I find helps make connections and makes the process more fun! I have worked with young people from all different backgrounds and different identities. I do take a social justice and equity lens to my practice. I believe in fighting for LGBTQIA+, racial, and gender equity. I believe in reproductive justice. I take a systems approach and practice looking at all things at play, including society at large and systems of oppression.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I continue to learn more ways to help young people cope with trauma. I am currently in the process of becoming certified in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, an evidence-based practice to help children and adolescents work through their trauma with the help of their caregivers. I have a deep understanding of how much trauma can affect a young person's life. I also love to collaborate and have been doing so for many years in public health. I have collaborated with other therapists, healthcare providers, case managers, and psychiatrists and learned so much from all of them. I believe in holistic health and am always open to learning new practices and approaches.
How do your core values shape your approach to therapy?
I believe in equity and my core values very much shape my practice. I have worked with many young people of different identities and have seen firsthand how the systems of oppression in our society are set up to make them struggle. I believe in empowering the young people I work with to believe in themselves and embrace who they are while also acknowledging the reality of their experiences. I believe in being completely nonjudgmental and open because that is what young people need. I have worked extensively with sex workers, survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, survivors of sexual assault and rape, abuse survivors, those who have had abortions, those who decided to become teen parents, and young people who self-harm. The goal is always to work collaboratively toward what the client wants out of life.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I am excited by telehealth as I have found it to be a great way to work with young people! They are better at technology than me! Mental health care is more accessible for some since they don't need to travel. Some clients even feel more comfortable being in their own homes. I am also excited by how much mental health is now focusing on trauma and the ways to heal its symptoms. Experiencing traumatic events can feel life-ending but there is light and I am so glad the field continues to evolve in this area.
Why do you like working with adolescents?
I love working with tweens, teens, and young people because they are at such an awesome place in development! I find young people to be so open, accepting, energetic, and fun! I believe I am a teenager at heart with the wisdom of someone older. I truly believe therapy has the power to help young people heal because it worked for me when I was young! It is so exciting to see young people grow and figure out more about who they want to become. I truly feel it is a privilege every time a young person allows me to be a small part of their journey!
“I like to use humor as well as pop culture, interests, and hobbies in the therapy process, which I find helps make connections and makes the process more fun!”