“One of the things I am most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape is the shift related to identity, race, and privilege.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
I obtained my undergraduate degree in forensic psychology and, shortly after graduation, began working in Manhattan Family Court. During my time there, I became frustrated with how individuals were treated as only docket numbers or petitions. This frustration led me to pursue my master’s in social work. After graduating from NYU, I was offered a post-master’s fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center where I trained in trauma-focused treatment. I eventually obtained my Doctorate of Social Welfare in clinical social work, again from NYU. In my studies, I conducted research on how a traumatic experience premigration can impact the mental health of Spanish-speaking Latinx first- and second-generation immigrants.
What should someone know about working with you?
During intake sessions, I conduct a biopsychosocial evaluation. I gather history about a client’s past experiences and evaluate how those experiences may impact the present. I also dedicate time to discussing any past therapy, providing education on the therapy process, and discussing the therapeutic goals. Although I am a trauma therapist by nature, if a client has not experienced an event they identify as traumatic, I utilize an integrative approach in working toward the goals they would like to achieve.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
It is completely normal to be nervous about beginning therapy! It can be difficult and scary to make the decision to start therapy, and sometimes the first person you contact isn’t someone you are compatible with. Ask to set up a consultation and come prepared with questions related to how that therapist structures their sessions, what modality of therapy they use, what kind of mental health challenges they’re experienced in, and whether they’ve worked with anyone seeking assistance for the same needs you are expressing.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
One of the things I am most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape is the shift related to identity, race, and privilege. In the counseling community, the awareness surrounding these social justice issues isn’t always present. I believe it’s important and vital to allow space to discuss how these issues not only impact someone’s life, but how they potentially play out in the therapeutic relationship. Allowing clients to tell their own story from lived experiences is powerful.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
I was able to design the curriculum for and facilitate a dialectical behavioral skills group for female Latinx survivors of intimate partner violence. On the surface, this involved conducting the group in Spanish and providing Spanish-language materials for the clients’ use. Other aspects sought to address the clients’ culturally-informed concerns about treatment. The greatest barrier was the undocumented immigration status of the group members. This research project highlighted how powerfully immigration status impacts mental health outcomes for clients.
“Allowing clients to tell their own story from lived experiences is powerful.”