“In order for clients to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, they have to have a curated experience that allows them to be seen and heard.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
While battling cultural norms and intergenerational trauma, therapy helped me regain my voice. Once I was able to explore and identify patterns that were barriers to the life I wanted, I started to thrive. I felt better about myself and gained new skills through the work with my therapist and I wanted to give other women of color that same opportunity. My therapist suggested social work as a job that could merge my passions. After I learned more about the marriage between psychology and the concrete services that are built into the profession, it was like I had found my ideal career path. Previously, I didn’t know it existed.
What should someone know about working with you?
Therapy is an intimate and collaborative process. In order for clients to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, they have to have a curated experience that allows them to be seen and heard. I do that by normalizing their experience and centering their issues from the viewpoint of the individual as the authority on their stories. During the intake session, I am less focused on the diagnostic criteria and more focused on identifying presenting issues that need our immediate attention as well as seeing if we are a good fit. Sessions are tailored to the needs of the client; a one-size-fits-all approach is not always the best when it comes to the clients I serve. I allow each client’s needs to dictate my practice methods, with the focus on client autonomy and empowerment to help foster change.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
Collaboration with others allows us to use an interdisciplinary and integrative approach, which increases continuity of care and provides a greater chance for symptom reduction. It also allows the client to take a holistic approach to their overall wellness.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
We have to reframe how we see therapy from a cultural perspective. For too many people, there’s a negative narrative related to getting help. Some of these ideas are rightfully seen through a lens of distrust, particularly when it comes to apparent bias and lack of culturally responsive therapists. But we have to change that, especially when the clients are BIPOC and other marginalized people. I often let my clients know going to therapy doesn’t mean you will receive a mental health diagnosis; it may simply mean you have life challenges that your current skill set does not allow you to successfully navigate. Not all of us have serious diagnoses, but we all have struggles that require us to learn new skills; we have to take a proactive stance to get the lives we desire.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I am excited about the current cultural shift in our profession towards not only social justice but holding each other accountable to our oath of ethics, an oath that allows us to fight for the disenfranchised and actively participate in dismantling racism. I am committed to building widespread community awareness concerning the value of our profession through my advocacy work. As a leader in several professional organizations, I look forward to helping craft clear and cohesive messaging aimed at increasing public awareness about the work we do and why it's in the nation’s best interest that social workers succeed and thrive. This involves increasing access to culturally diverse clients and advocating for equitable pay.
“I allow each client’s needs to dictate my practice methods, with the focus on client autonomy and empowerment to help foster change.”