I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston College. I have worked in community mental health and inpatient settings, and have been in private practice for the past 16 years. I am an Approved Washington State Supervisor for Master’s level therapists seeking hours to meet their licensing requirements as well as for supervision of Master’s level therapists. I am a Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work from the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.
We often think that mental health issues arise when facing a life-altering experience or trauma, while this is also true, most of us have mental health issues that occur in dealing with daily life within our many relationships with family, friends, and/or coworkers. Although the stigma of seeking therapy has somewhat diminished over time, many of us still feel that whatever is troubling us or causing us stress does not merit talking with a therapist. The reality is that we are all faced with mental health issues in various manners and degrees, seeking out a trained professional to help us through these experiences, moments and transitions can make a meaningful impact on our well-being.
Individuals seek mental health care for a wide variety of reasons such as family, marriage, relationship, parenting, work-related, and/or financial stressors. Many times, we encounter unforeseen events or circumstances that whether positive or negative require us to reimagine our current and future realities. It is a common myth that those who seek therapy do so solely as a result of negative experiences or trauma; therapy is also helpful for those who are planning and expecting wonderful and positive things to work on how to incorporate them. Another common myth is that asking for help or going to therapy means that you are weak; having the ability to accept that sometimes despite trying our best we still need help, is an enormous strength and requires courage. No matter the reason that you are looking, it is valid and you are already doing something towards your goal by reading this and looking for information.
My name is Olivia and I welcome you to Counseling Services for Wellbeing. From the time I was a very small child I as convinced that I wanted to be a physician, I was always reading anything I could find that talked about medicine and watched every possible program that showed surgical procedures. As time went on though, I started to notice that although the surgeries and diagnoses were intriguing, I was always left with questions about the individual themselves, their life, experiences, and family, what they had lived through and if/how they had overcome adversity. Shortly after I started my undergraduate degree I met with a family friend who was a Clinical Social Worker in private practice in the hopes of narrowing in on what I wanted to be “when I grew up”. Much to her surprise, I looked at her Master’s degree diploma and asked “social work is a profession”? Graciously she answered that it was indeed and went on to explain what it was she did with her degree; it was in that moment that it became completely clear to me that I wanted to be a therapist. Only then did I realize that I had always been the friend that everyone seemed to trust and go to whenever they were upset or having problems; also realizing that I truly felt humbled and glad that they trusted me to try to help. I remember going out of my way to help others, to the point where my dad would tell me that I was not a deity and could not save people-so I decided to learn how to properly help those who needed guidance in a manner that gave them the knowledge and ability to save themselves.
I was born and raised in El Paso, TX, it borders with Cd. Juárez, MX; they are sister cities. For those of us who are from there we are one city on both sides of the U.S.-MX border, our economies depend on each other and our culture is inherently intertwined. I am fortunate to have been raised appreciating and embracing both cultures and both English and Spanish languages. I come from a very large family my maternal grandparents had 8 children, I grew up with 23 first cousins; our family ties are strong, and as anyone with a large family will tell you, that necessarily comes with many wonderful and devastating experiences and dynamics that we have seen together as well as separately. I am aware that this may not be the experience that most individuals have, and that even for those in a family as large as mine, there is always the possibility of facing things alone. I have also learned that family is who we choose as family, no matter the DNA. Regardless of whether we feel alone or accompanied, or whether we have large, small, or no family, certain moments in life can be challenging and as a therapist my role is to help individuals face those moments and work to help overcome them. Everyone has the potential for continued growth as well as striving for a purposeful life.
I have always felt a great respect and gratitude towards individuals who choose to see me in order to work through whatever mental health issues have brought them to my office. As a therapist I am simply just myself and how I would want to be treated; kind, engaging, with a good sense of humor, and very much aware that therapy is a collaborative process. I am often asked what theoretical models or interventions I use, and my answer is inevitably the same it depends on the needs of the person sitting across from me. I would best be described as psychodynamic with an emphasis on the person as part of the various systems that conform part of their lives. I use several approaches during the course of therapy including family systems, cognitive behavioral, narrative, solution-focused, trauma informed, EMDR, as well as other therapeutic interventions.
As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in the State of Washington, I work with individuals as well as with couples. I have extensive experience working with adolescents and adults presenting with a wide range of emotional and behavioral concerns.
Some of my areas of expertise include the treatment of:
- Domestic Violence
- Grief and Loss
- Relationship Issues
- Life changes
- Survivors of sexual abuse
- Chronic Illness
- Active duty military members and their families
As a therapist my goal is to assist clients in identifying and working through the issues that have brought them into seeking help. I feel it is important that clients know that although I am the expert on mental health, each individual is the expert of their life and experiences; it is only by working collaboratively that change can occur in a meaningful way. A client once described me as an archeologist, saying that I was excellent at knowing how and where to dig within her experiences to find what was keeping her unable to move forward. I liked the analogy, but I added that I was more like the tour guide that holds the flashlight and shines it on the things that the client may be overlooking, minimizing or scared to focus on, while providing a safe space to explore those vulnerabilities. Giving the client the opportunity to find their strengths and resilience, as well as identifying weaknesses that can be worked on to become strengths.
Many times, we feel overwhelmed and at a disadvantage in comparison to our peers, whether it be as a result of certain experiences, marital status, gender, gender identity, employment, family of origin, or any of a long list from which we can draw from. The focus of therapy is for each individual to have the opportunity to notice the various experiences or moments that have impacted their life, how they dealt with them, and finding new ways of developing healthy coping skills in moving forward. We live in a world that is fast paced and often we find it hard to give ourselves a moment to validate our struggles, therapy is a space in which these can be addressed with the certainty that the person sitting across from you is also invested in your healing and your success.