I am a Clinical Psychologist who works with a broad range of clients including children and families, teens, adults, and couples with a wide array of disorders/difficulties. A native of northern Virginia, prior to joining the McLean Counseling Center I worked for 15 years in Los Angeles in a variety of roles, including as a psychotherapist, teaching psychology classes to graduate level students, and running outpatient clinics and programs.
In conducting therapy, I have worked with children as young as age two. Specialty areas for children and teens include depression and anxiety, selective mutism, ADHD, trauma, and behavioral problems. I also have extensive experience working with adults with a wide range of disorders, including treatment-resistant depression and other mood disorders, post-partum depression in new mothers, anxiety, and trauma.
One of the things I love about working with children is the opportunity to use play therapy. Children are not just “mini-adults.” Their communication skills and styles, as well as their level of development, are completely different than those of adults. Children often do not have the capacity to voice what is bothering them, whether due to being overwhelmed, or simply not having the language skills. Play is the natural mode of communication in children. By engaging children in play and allowing them to express themselves freely through play, issues are able to come out and be treated in a way that is meaningful to them. In addition to working with younger children using play, I engage in talk therapy with older children and teens, and regularly include families in treatment. This is because issues affecting a child may be affecting the entire family, and because it may be that issues affecting the family are affecting the child. I also help parents with parenting skills, as parenting a child with emotional and behavioral problems can be difficult.
I also greatly enjoy working with adults and couples, and value working with diverse populations. Fluent in Spanish, I conduct therapy with children and adults from a wide array of Latin- and South American countries. I also have experience working with many other cultural groups. One of the main aspects of engaging in the therapeutic process with clients is gaining a deep understanding of the individual’s (or family’s) experience. Learning about an individual’s culture and personal history is part of that, and I value learning about others and understand the privilege of being allowed to enter their worlds. My work with diverse groups includes the LGBT community, including LGBT couples. I appreciate the trust that my clients, of all backgrounds, put in me, and I work diligently to earn and maintain that trust.
My integrative approach to treatment combines psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral elements, as well as behavioral approaches in working with some children. In addition, I have been trained in and use a number of evidence-based practices with individuals of all ages. Although the treatment for selective mutism is very specific and directive, with all other clients, adults and children alike, I often take a non-directive approach, allowing the client to lead the therapy. I believe that children and adults are all striving toward health, and when provided with a caring, accepting, and nurturing environment that allows the individual to freely express who they are, that healing will occur.