“I believe it’s important to integrate themes of diversity and cultural identity into therapeutic work.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I have always been curious about how early experiences within families, in social groups, and broader culture impacts our worldview, sense of belonging, and ability to cope with challenges. As a first-generation immigrant and native Spanish speaker, I strongly believe our identities, connections to social groups, and unique life experiences greatly influence our ability to establish healthy relationships, cope with depression and anxiety, and develop a positive sense of self. For me, the incredible healing power that is established within the therapeutic relationship is the most rewarding experience and one that directly influenced my passion for psychology.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
It is my goal to create a safe space where clients can bring their whole selves into the room. I believe it’s important to integrate themes of diversity and cultural identity into therapeutic work. I find that our various identities influence every aspect of our lives, and therapy can provide the space we need to explore, define, validate, and process our unique lived experiences. Establishing a strong therapeutic relationship is incredibly important for my work with clients and one that I find to be necessary in building safety and trust throughout the process. I think it’s important for potential clients to know that I enjoy working collaboratively and look for opportunities to highlight their strengths and abilities to work through even the most challenging situations.
If there was one thing you wish people knew about the therapy experience who might be hesitant to try it, what would that be?
I see therapy as an opportunity for clients to gain insight, awareness, and a greater understanding of their specific coping patterns and how these patterns might have served a purpose in the past, but may be interfering with their success and current wellbeing. I hope clients enter therapy with the idea that they are not broken beings that therapy is going to “fix” — they are already whole and incredibly resilient, and therapy can be the space they need to grow into a life that is more aligned with their beliefs, values, and identity.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
I find there is a huge cultural shift happening related to the destigmatization of mental health, particularly within communities of color. As a woman of color and psychologist, and as someone who deeply values cultural competency, being able to provide a safe, therapeutic space for clients who have felt that therapy wasn’t for them is incredibly exciting. I am hopeful and excited about how the field of mental health and how mental health providers will continue to make these services more accessible to marginalized communities.
Is there any research-based work you’ve done that you found particularly exciting and how has that informed your practice today?
I published research exploring the relationship between Latinas’ experiences of microaggressions and the impact these experiences have on their career decision making and development. The study was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Paper Award by the Counseling Psychologist. Aside from being an incredibly humbling experience, it validates my passion for providing culturally competent therapy and motivates me to continue to be a social justice advocate. In terms of how it influences my practice, I believe everyone has had experiences — whether blatant or subtle — that are unique to them and their identities, which deeply impact their worldview and wellbeing. I believe therapy is the place to explore these experiences, what they mean, and how to move forward in healing.
“As a woman of color and psychologist, and as someone who deeply values cultural competency, being able to provide a safe, therapeutic space for clients who have felt that therapy wasn’t for them is incredibly exciting.”