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Why did we become therapists?

Why did we become therapists?

Writing by Diana Garcia and Camila Pulgar.

My name is Diana Janeth Garcia, my pronouns are she/her/ella, and I’m a first-generation Latina who is strongly connected to their Mexican roots and culture. I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and raised in the inland empire of Southern California. I currently live in the Los Angeles area.

My experiences as a Latina have inspired me to serve communities of color and dismantle systems of oppression that weigh our communities down. My aspiration for social justice led me to pursue the field of social work and complete my MSW. During my MSW program, I interned at a counseling center in Southeastern Michigan (where I lived at the time), and my interest in therapy peaked. While my time there introduced an interest in therapy, my passion for mental health was heightened after my own experiences battling severe depression and anxiety. My own journey fighting debilitating mental health issues has fueled my purpose and my aim to help stop the stigma around mental health.

Currently, I have the privilege to serve Latinx communities and help destigmatize mental health by increasing education of mental health among this population. As a new mental health therapist, I am serving low-income and uninsured persons of all ages in the Los Angeles area. Being aware of the barriers around mental health such as access to treatment and affordability of services, I am very passionate about connecting those who need mental health treatment to the services they need.

While I feel extremely privileged to do this work, I recognize the importance of taking care of myself as a mental health professional who has their own mental health struggles. I am beyond grateful to have a great support system and access to my own mental health treatment as well as an array of coping tools and resources at my disposal. Some of the things I enjoy doing to take care of myself include spending time with my husband, family, and my dogs. Going on drives along the coast on the weekends also helps to reset and ground me, which I find is necessary to manage not only my own mental health but to also ensure I can be the best version of myself for the people I serve.

My name is Camila Angelica Pulgar Guzman, my pronouns are she, her, ella. I grew up in Santiago, Chile. I have a PhD in counseling education and supervision from UNCG and I’m a licensed therapist in North Carolina. I have known since a very young age that I wanted to become a therapist or a similar version to this profession. I was very comfortable sitting with people in pain, sadness and crisis. Without having the techniques, I knew to sit with them and just listen. When I was 16 years- old, my parents made the heart-wrenching decision to immigrate from Santiago to Winston Salem (WS). I remember arriving in WS, after a snowstorm, the city was deserted and cold. I remember feeling very lost, sad, and upset with this move. Years past, and in my own acculturation process, I have felt very connected with both my Chilean and WS homes. In 2016, I finished my master’s in Counseling from NC A&T. In 2021, I completed a Phd in Counseling Education and Supervision from UNCG.
In my undergraduate work, I was deeply drawn to the lack of bilingual services in WS. Personally, my family and I were going through a crisis, my younger brother attempted suicide. He is a suicide attempt survivor. For my family, nativating Spanish-speaking services was a challenge. It wasn’t an issue of access, we are privileged enough to have insurance. But at the time, there were zero bilingual providers. Hence, I vowed to build a career path where no immigrant family will have to go through a similar crisis alone. A big part of my clinical work is around how we talk about and experience suicide in our community.
Due to the high level of trauma experienced by my clients, I use a trauma-informed approach. Specifically, I am trained in EMDR and Brainspotting. Both modalities help clients to process trauma at a deeper level. I work exclusively with Latinx, Spanish-speaking adults. Most of my clients are uninsured, hence, I don’t take insurance and I offer a reduced fee.
I always tell folks “I am therapist, who has her own therapist”, again, I have my own therapist. I think it is crucial for my work as a therapist to know what it is like to be on the other side of this work (the client’s side). Also, like self-care, I love to garden, and I am currently growing a lemon tree. I love nature, birds and my dog Luna. My partner and I take walks as often as we can for our self-care.

We, Diana and I, would love to hear from you, tell us your story, tell us why.

Mil gracias,

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