“Being aware of the cultural forces that a person brings to the therapeutic milieu helps in understanding the whole person.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
Growing up in an immigrant family inspired me to understand human nature. From a very young age, I was always asking questions and wondering things like “why do we hurt?” Thus I pursued a degree in psychology and knew then that I would always work in a helping capacity. I have worked with adolescents as a sexual health counselor, with families who were homeless and people diagnosed with a chronic illness, and have evaluated and treated people diagnosed with severe mental health issues. All of this led me to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Health. More recently, I have been at the forefront of research into evidence-based asthma treatments for people of color.
What should someone know about working with you?
The first session is crucial to creating a comfortable therapeutic experience. I pay close attention to the mind-body connection: how the person feels in their body and how this connects to their thoughts. I offer techniques that are connected to mindfulness and heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback to help the client feel comfortable as they explore the difficult subjects that brought them to therapy. By taking a biopsychosocial approach that integrates CBT, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, and biofeedback, I can help someone connect with their authentic self. Working in an empathetic, holistic lens and being aware of the cultural forces that a person brings to the therapeutic milieu, helps in understanding the whole person.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
Psychotherapy is always evolving. As a clinical health psychologist, I welcome the opportunity to work in a holistic manner, bringing nutrition, physical health, and environmental factors into therapy. The most important thing is that the person I am working with feels comfortable and willing to use our time to explore growth. Together we can explore complements to talk therapy, like apps and mindfulness exercises at home.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
It is hard to say, "I need help." It is hard to consider that someone out there can be the one who helps you. It is hard to not give up or get discouraged. Yet these are steps we take to find balance in life. It may not all get resolved, but your days will feel more complete, more satisfying, and more connected. The work of therapy is not only done in the office. If you can challenge yourself to say "yes" to the process, it is a step in the direction of feeling better.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
For the past 15 years, I have been involved with research studying evidence-based interventions for people of color who have been diagnosed with health issues. I have been able to see the effects of different modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, HRV biofeedback, and interoceptive exposure for panic and anxiety, as well as problem-solving in a cross-cultural framework. I am excited that there are tools to expand the work done in session and that treatment now goes beyond talk therapy to include tools like biofeedback, mindfulness, and even apps.
“If you can challenge yourself to say "yes" to the process, it is a step in the direction of feeling better.”