When all these parts of you are welcomed, seen, and appreciated, it frees you up to be your most authentic self in our work together.
A Welcoming Experience
I am a queer and trans therapist committed to providing person-centered care. I work with the frameworks of neurodiversity, fat liberation, HAES (Health at Every size), and disability justice. Many of my clients come to me because they need a provider who is LGBTQIA-affirming, kink and polyamory aware, and knowledgeable about chronic illness.
If you’re a member of any of these communities, you probably know how challenging it can be to find a therapist who truly “gets it”. I offer an environment where all of these parts of you can be welcomed, seen, and appreciated. This frees you up to be your most authentic self in our work together, and for us to focus on what matters most to you in therapy.
Therapy isn't one-size-fits-all
I am an “eclectic therapist” which means that I draw from a number of different therapeutic modalities and tailor my approach to the person in front of me. Humans are wonderfully unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for every client. I draw from a broad tool belt of clinical skills, lived experience, and community knowledge. I try to identify the best approaches for each individual, each issue, and each day as we go along.
Research suggests that the most important factor in effective therapy is the relationship between the therapist and the client, not just which style of therapy is used. My goal is to build a trusting, authentic relationship with safe consistent boundaries that will be the foundation of our work together, regardless of the approaches we end up using.
I bring my skills and experience, but you are the expert on your own life. I believe in your strength and resilience and I'm here to help you reach your goals.
My core therapeutic approach is person-centered, anti-authoritarian, and collaborative. Person-centered therapy (also known as Rogerian therapy) is built on the idea that YOU are the expert on your own life. You decide what direction you want to go, and I collaborate with you to explore those paths.
My role is as a compassionate, non-judgemental facilitator helping you to find answers within yourself. I am not an expert coming down to tell you how you “should” live your life. My purpose is to walk beside you and use my skills to help you develop a compassionate inner voice that guides you far beyond our work together.
A key aspect of this approach is empathy and what we call “unconditional positive regard”. When I see someone engage in behavior that is destructive (to self or others), my instinct is to approach things with curiosity and warmth. We are complex creatures driven by so many subconscious and environmental factors, and my job is to try to help you understand what is at play. Not to judge or condemn or shame you.
I believe that sustainable change is most possible when we feel understood and when we have people in our lives who regard us in a positive consistent way, even when we are imperfect, struggling, or having conflict.
Therapy and psychiatry are not the only tools that can improve mental health.
Strengths-based therapy involves shining a light on your strengths, resources, and resilience. Even in our lowest moments when we feel as though we are doing everything “wrong”, there are often hidden strengths at play.
For example, maybe you engaged in a risky coping mechanism to get through a stressful situation. You could frame that in terms of “shame” and “failure”; OR we could use it as a way to understand the creativity and motivation you used to survive that situation. By noticing your strengths, we can build on them to help you manage your stressors in new ways.
A non-pathologizing approach includes viewing clients as whole, complex human beings in an equally complex environment, rather than just as a cluster of symptoms. In contrast, a pathologizing approach is one that is restricted exclusively to the medical model of mental health. The medical model focuses heavily on “deficits”, symptoms, and the idea that mental illness is an individual problem with individual solutions.
Diagnoses from the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) can be very useful for self-understanding, finding community, and accessing resources. However, the DSM is just one lens through which to view human behavior, and it is a lens that is constantly shifting based on things like politics, culture, profit, and resource distribution (which shape each update of the DSM).
In my work with clients, we make use of diagnosis when it is helpful, and make use of other lenses when it's not helpful. Part of using a non-pathologizing approach is also recognizing that therapy and psychiatry are not the only tools that can improve mental health. Systemic social change, access to material and social resources, fulfilling and transformative experiences, meaningful relationships with nature/animals/other people, joyful body movement, and so many more things can positively shape our mental well-being outside of the therapy room.
Social systems theory is key to my outlook as a therapist with a background in critical studies of race, gender, and sexuality. All of us have social relationships that range from our closest friends all the way out to big systems like our governments and even our broader culture.
All of these relationships shape our experiences, our self-image, and our view of the world. They can also create experiences of privilege and oppression that can have material impacts on our brains/bodies, our access to resources, our levels of safety, and more.
Thinking about social systems as a therapist is important because it allows us to look realistically at things like the barriers you face, the resources you have access to, and how your relationships are affecting your well-being. We can’t identify pathways through or around those social barriers if we just pretend they aren’t there.
Trauma can be chronic or complex, meaning that it occurs over time through many incidents and in relationships.
Frequently when people think of trauma they imagine acute single-incident traumas, such as a single violent incident or a natural disaster. However, trauma can also be chronic or complex, meaning that it occurs over time through many incidents and in relationships (such as through ongoing emotional abuse, manipulation, or neglect). Even when traumas don’t result in developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they can still significantly shape things like how we see ourselves, how we process our emotions, and how secure we feel when connecting with other people.
Being a trauma-informed therapist means that I am paying attention to how your traumas have impacted you, how they shape your behaviors, emotions, and worldview, and tailoring my approach accordingly. It means that part of my work involves helping you learn how trauma impacts our brains and bodies. A trauma-informed approach requires prioritizing a few key factors including; safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness/ transparency, empowerment, and cultural awareness.
I think it's important to clarify that being trauma-informed is NOT the same thing as being certified in a trauma-reprocessing modality such as EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Internal Family Systems, or Trauma-Focused CBT. While I have some training in all of these areas and will continue to learn and deepen my clinical skills in this direction, I am not fully trained or certified in any of the listed modalities. I highly recommend seeking out therapists experienced in these modalities if you are finding that your trauma responses are severely impacting your life and you want therapy to primarily focus on processing those experiences.
Therapy is most effective when we acknowledge and work with the realities of social injustice, instead of pretending that everything can be fixed with individual reflection.
I began my education in Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Mills College in Oakland, CA. I loved what I was learning, but I wanted to take that knowledge out of the inaccessible world of academia and apply it to a career where I could be of service to others directly.
I left Mills College and turned my attention towards completing a bachelor’s degree in Social Work at CSU Los Angeles. After completing my BSW at CSULA, I graduated with my master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from CSU Long Beach in 2018.
There are many educational paths to becoming a therapist including degrees in counseling, marriage & family therapy, psychology, and more. I chose a social work path because I believe that social systems have a huge impact on our lives. I find therapy is most effective when we actually acknowledge and work with the realities of social injustice, instead of pretending that everything can be fixed with individual reflection and growth.
Prior to becoming a therapist, I worked in youth-focused community programs between 2005-2015. I had the chance to work with several LGBTQIA+ arts-based initiatives where we created space for collective healing, peer support, and mentorship. While in school, I worked as a Social Justice Peer Educator and provided workshops and individual mentorship related to queer and trans rights, disability justice, white privilege, fat liberation, and more.
I began my career as a therapist in 2017. I have been lucky to intern and work in a variety of settings where I received training in different therapeutic approaches. In addition to the time I've spent in private practice, I've also worked in middle schools, field-based community mental health, and acute inpatient services. I have been a registered associate clinical social worker since 2018.
Today I am lucky to work one-on-one with clients from marginalized communities, many of whom have struggled to find therapists who are culturally attuned or who share their worldview. It's an absolute joy to get to be of service to so many people from my disabled, neurodiverse, fat-positive, poly, and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Who I am
I am a Long Beach-based therapist, educator, and artist. My work is informed not only by my clinical education, but also by my lived experience and community knowledge. I am proud to be a therapist who is disabled, fat, neurodivergent, queer and trans.
In my free time, I paint, make music, and swim in the ocean. You can usually find me in the middle of a DIY project or playing with my two rescue cats (Myra and Thistle) who are fond of making guest appearances in online therapy sessions.
Some people believe therapists should always be a blank slate. I think there can be value in knowing where your therapist stands on issues that are important to you. I share these things not because I need my clients to agree with me, but because I know how hard it can be to find a therapist who shares your beliefs and how devastating it can be to open up to someone only to find that your core values are dramatically misaligned.
I believe that we all deserve bodily autonomy and unconditional access to healthcare, shelter, education, and social services. I believe that black lives matter, that white privilege is very real, and that borders should not separate families. I believe in the abolition of prisons, immigration detention, police, and carceral mental health systems, while also recognizing that I am still a complicated part of these systems as a social worker. I believe in the many creative alternatives that abolitionists have implemented to uplift communities and reduce violence.
I believe that our worth should not be defined by our ability to be productive in capitalism. I believe that disabled lives are valuable and that universal design benefits us all. I believe in harm reduction approaches for drug users. I believe that sex workers deserve autonomy and self-determination. I believe that trans youth are capable of knowing themselves and making choices about their own lives. I believe that gender and sexuality are complex personal experiences that can't be summed up by dominant narratives and rarely fit neatly into identity labels.
I believe that weight is an ineffective way to measure health, that intentional weight loss is a high-risk activity, and that health is not a moral imperative that we owe to others. I believe that fat people are beautiful, important, and resilient. I believe that neurodivergent voices are valuable and should be at the center of conversations about autism, ADHD, and more.
I believe that the DSM is a way of categorizing human experiences that is limited and flawed. I believe that many of the things that we call mental illness can also be understood as manifestations of complex trauma, variations in neurotype, and reasonable responses to unreasonable circumstances. At the same time, I believe diagnoses can be incredibly useful for people as a tool for finding community, resources, and self-understanding. I also believe self-diagnosis is meaningful and often necessary, especially in a country where culturally competent, unbiased, affordable mental health assessment is frequently inaccessible.
If you have questions or concerns about any of these beliefs and want to have a conversation, I'm an open book and life-long learner.
I believe that we all deserve bodily autonomy and unconditional access to healthcare, shelter, education, and social services.