In November of 2018, I joined the dynamic team of psychologists at Therapy Changes, located in San Diego, CA. I am seeing individual adults and adolescents for traditional psychotherapy sessions, as well as integrated sessions. Group offerings include workshops, combining mood management and yoga techniques. Click here for more information about my psychotherapy offerings, and my Therapy Changes bio.
Since earning my Doctor of Psychology degree in 2005, I have taken on work in several different clinical settings.
past professional experiences
Before joining Therapy Changes, I have worked in many different professional settings. Upon graduating with my Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in 2005, I earned my post-doctoral clinical hours at Princeton House Behavioral Health, where I worked in both the trauma and wellness track at the Women’s intensive outpatient and partial hospital program. In 2007, I gained experience working in an inpatient setting, when I joined the psychology staff at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital, in Secaucus, NJ. By 2008, I was fully licensed as an independent psychologist in New York and New Jersey.
Seeking a more traditional outpatient setting, I joined a group private practice, Behavioral and Neuropsychological Consultants, in 2008, where I further honed my clinical skills and interests. Becoming a partner in the practice in 2013, I then gained more responsibility and helped to grow the practice, all while maintaining a full client base.
Seeking new ventures, in 2016, I joined the staff at the Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Here, I was part of a large staff of psychologist, treating a large contingent of college students, either through direct clinical work, outreach, or teaching skills-based workshops. As a person of indigenous background, I took special interest in reaching out and treating Native students on campus. I was invited to speak and present at the STANDS (Students Taking Action for Native Dreams of Success) conference, which was hosted by AISA (American Indian Student Association), in which middle to high school Native students from across California were invited to the UCSB campus, to support and encourage their path to higher education.
Private practice continues to be my niche' of choice, and thus returned to NYC in 2017. During this time, in addition to having an independent private practice, I gained experience, working with the elderly and disabled at the Westchester Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing.
Due to the demand and need in today’s busy and ever-connected lifestyle, I am able to offer telepsychology (video and phone) sessions to clients in California, New York and New Jersey.
Continuing education is important to me. Therefore, I regularly attend conferences in order to stay up-to-date in the latest developments in treatment and practice in the field of psychology. I also take special interest in integrating yoga and mindfulness in the mental health arena, and therefore, take special care in learning from the experts in this burgeoning field as well.
Due to my own needs to find work-life balance, in 2008 I stepped into a yoga class in NYC and never looked back. I became a consistent yoga student for many years before deciding to deepen my practice and the study of yoga. In 2014, I completed a 200-hr yoga teacher training, to further understand yoga philosophy, learn healthy physical techniques, and to find my eventual seat as a teacher.
With the realization that yoga, mindfulness and meditation can be deeply moving and healing, I wanted to extend these benefits to my own clients. Thus began my professional journey of fusing traditional talk therapy with yoga and mindfulness. My own version of Integrated Therapy was born.
Integrated Therapy was born from my professional and personal experiences with psychology, yoga and mindfulness practices
Bachelor’s of Arts to Doctor of Psychology
My undergraduate education was completed at the University of Texas-El Paso (1999) where I majored both in psychology and anthropology, in addition to graduating with honors. I completed my honors thesis and was awarded Best Senior Thesis within the psychology department and Honorable Mention university-wide. My researched focused on the relationship between culture (Mexican-American), life-style habits, exercise, and ideal body image. Through this work, I was able to co-author published article(s) and presented my findings at a national health and sports conference in 2000.
Before entering into graduate school, I was able to gain practical experience through my work in group homes and day treatment programs with the chronic and persistent mentally illl. After a year of practical work, I applied and was accepted with a multi-year fellowship, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in 2000.
I earned my master's (2003) and doctorate in clinical Psychology (2005) at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. Through my five year journey in graduate school, I was able to hone my clinical skills through a variety of clinical classes and practical experiences. I focused on working in different settings (hospital, day program, outpatient clinics, college counseling, in-home services) and working with a variety of populations (foster children, college-aged, ethnically diverse, inner city). In 2004, I entered into a year-long, full time APA (American Psychological Association) accredited psychology internship at Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, completing all my clinical requirements.
My dissertation research focused on exploring the tribal identity and psychology of a select group of women among the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe of western Montana. I was able to investigate an area of personal interest, while completing my doctorate degree, which was very important to me.
My research includes investigating various factors related to Mexican-American and Native-American identity.
Yoga and Mindfulness
Align & flow yoga teacher training
Looking for a training program that would incorporate healthy body alignment, flow, movement of breathe, in addition to honoring yoga philosophy, I decided to join Brooklyn teacher Julie Dorhman's program. Going through a 200 hour yoga teacher training, Shakitoyoga New York taught me all the above components that I was looking for, in addition to guiding students to connect to their personal reasons for practicing yoga. I finished this program in 2014, and am now a Yoga Alliance registered 200-hr ERYT yoga teacher.
yoga for mood management
LifeForce Yoga was founded by Amy Weintraub, as a method to manage her own struggles with depression, when psychotherapy was not enough to relieve her symptoms. Taking her life and mental health into her own hands, she developed this empirically-supported method of yoga to help manage not only depressive symptoms, but also anxiety and PTSD.
This program combines several different yogic techniques that I utilize in my integrated therapy sessions. These include breath work to energize or calm the nervous system, movement (asana) to connect to the body, mudhras (hand gestures) to bring seal an intention or stimulate certain body parts, mantra (sounds) to ignite healing vibrations, yoga nidra for deep relaxation, bhavana for imagery work, as well as sankapla (intention setting) to connect to your heart's desire. I finished training in this method in the summer of 2017.
My yoga training includes not only alignment and flow, but mood management techniques as well.
I was first introduced to mindfulness concepts in graduate school, and was somewhat familiar with John Kabat-Zinn's take on this concept throughout the years of attending conferences. After becoming more involved in the yoga world, studying mindfulness was an organic marriage.
In 2014, Time Magazine declared that there was a "Mindfulness Revolution," in the making. However we want to put it, mindfulness is taking the U.S. by storm, with schools developing meditation and mindfulness in their curriculum, companies bringing mindfulness programs to their work place, and apps such as Headspace offering easy to use products to teach people the benefits of being present in one's life.
Completing the 8 week program in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) in the summer of 2013, as well as various workshops in mindful psychotherapy, I now utilize and will guide clients using these techniques as well.
montana and beyond
Growing up in Montana and being from on the Flathead Indian reservation was and has been influential in my life. One's homeland and connections can be deeply personal and important. My experience as an Army dependent, in which I was able to live in different cultures, such as the Texas-Mexican border, or in the heart of Germany, also greatly influenced who I am today. My interest in people was ignited as a pre-teen, in the bustling airport of Frankfurt, Germany: seeing people from all walks of life coming and going. Alas, always going home to Montana allowed me reconnect to my roots, no matter where I lived.
Other Interests and Influences
nature, health and travel
Not surprisingly, nature and travel are passions of mine. Montana is known as "big sky country" for a reason! The sounds, sights and smell of nature allows me to reconnect to my own purpose, and that which I bring to my practice as a psychologist.
Health, whether physical or mental, rounds out my interest, as I have always been a sports enthusiast. Yoga is a perfect combination of addressing not only our physical health, but our mental health as well.