Personal experience with struggles including anxiety, compulsive behaviors, harsh self-judgment, perfectionism, procrastination, nihilism, and a lack of clarity in values compelled me to pursue deeper answers in order to both relieve suffering and become more grounded and whole. I trained as a therapist during a mid-life career transition, adding a doctorate of psychology onto my existing knowledge base of business and media within an international, transpersonal, multicultural and bohemian perspective.
As a human being, my core values are learning, contribution, and play. As a therapist, I strive to balance compassion with discernment. I frequently use mindfulness exercises to bring my clients back to present moment awareness. These interventions may entail asking the client to explore their subjective somatic experience. Mindfulness-directed inquiries help illustrate many things including how each and every situation calls for a uniquely tailored response, one which considers a balance of opposing forces. I do not preach a simple answer or strictly adhere to a manual of 'how to get better. '
My focus in on helping people fine tune their consciousness, supporting a moment-to-moment awareness which is necessary to maintain the dynamic readjustments found in a stable, enriched and vibrant life.
By clearing away the veils that obscure our vision and tuning into the essence of one's reality, we make our own solutions. I endeavor to tap into the flow of what is alive for my clients in the here and now, helping them gain clarity, peace of mind and effectiveness.
A key goal is to help individuals learn to read and trust their own signals in order to connect with their internal compass. These signals may come in the form of emotions, physical sensations, memories, hunches, dreams, strokes of inspiration, and the like. We search for that sweet spot where intuition and intellect overlap - what we call 'Wise Mind'.
I see my role as a facilitator, encouraging self-determination within my clients while holding a space for the exploration of thoughts, feelings, and mindful action.
My theoretical background relies on a foundation of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), which encourages a nuanced world view that accepts seeming contradiction and non-resolution - embracing the paradox of non-duality - as a part of a healthy mindset. For instance, one situation may call for an individual to practice further restraint and contemplation. Whereas a totally different situation may call for speedy action and greater assertiveness. Together in our therapeutic alliance, we take multiple factors into consideration, such as the particular stage a client is at in their life and what previous experiences they bring with them.
The ACT approach emphasizes the practical development of meditative qualities to ease stress and expand awareness, and also focuses on values-driven action for greater fulfillment. Overlaying this foundation are three important approaches which connect mindfulness with felt-sense attunement, natural trance states, and reparative inner dialogue: Somatic Experiencing™ (SE), Self-Relations psychology, and Internal Family Systems (IFS). SE is an alternative therapy that addresses trauma by focusing on the client's perceived sensations in the body - it posits that trauma is held as much in the physical body as in the intellect. I have over 50 hours of SE practitioner training.
Both SE and Dr. Stephen Gilligan's Self-Relations psychology allow the therapy session to go beyond traditional talk therapy through exercises which organically allow for deeper brainwave states. With over 200 hours of training in Self-Relations, this transformative technique has greatly deepened my personal growth as well as informed my practice as a psychologist. Self Relations is a transpersonal approach which employs aspects of hypnotic technique but with a focus on empowering the client to provide the content and equally contribute to the shared field of experience. A student of hypnotherapy pioneer Milton Erickson, neuroscientist Karl Pribam (holographic brain theory), and Gregory Bateson (anthropologist & cyberneticist) as well as a contributor to the founding framework of Neurolinguistic Programming, Stephen Gilligan has served as an important fellow psychologist and mentor. In his words, generative trancework can allow oneself to "understand and learn how to construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct psychological identity and realities... to create states for transformation, healing, and creating significantly new realities."
Internal Family Systems (IFS) recognizes the multiplicity of voices within each of our psyches, and allows for a re-integration of all the parts of this inner society through compassionate acceptance, curiosity and active dialogue between neglected and controlling aspects. With over 40 hours of practice in IFS, I have found it to be particularly effective in tandem with the other approaches I have described. All together, this blend of integrative therapeutic strategies provides an incredible framework for transformative change.
My clinical experience has covered a broad range of clientele with a particular concentration on women of color, the LGBTQA community, and alternative relationship practices including non-monogamy and BDSM. I also have worked extensively with elders and those struggling with serious illness, addressing the final stages of life and the grieving process with compassion, spiritual connection, and nurturance.
*As a Filipino American, I am proud to serve FilAm & POC communities*
Academic Background, Publications, & Engagements:
Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.), Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology.
Dissertation: Development & Validation of a Problematic Smartphone Use Scale.
Publication: Co-authored book review ("Locating Neurobiological Abnormalities in Internet Addiction") in APA's PsycCRITIQUES.
Subject matter expert for upcoming revision of the California Psychology Law and Ethics Examination (CPLEE) - Exam Construction.
Panel speaker: Increasing Competency Working with POC in Sex Positive Communities (Bay Area Open Minds workshop April 13, 2019)
More info on youtube including a short introduction and lectures on mindfulness and clinical intersections of gender & sexual minorities.