I am a person who sees the good in everyone. I trust people have good intentions. I know people want to make positive changes and be their best self, but often they don’t know how to do so. I wholeheartedly believe all people are worthy of love and deserving of a fulfilling life.
At the same time, I know life is not so easy sometimes. In fact for some, the road has been difficult for what may feel like forever. Perhaps the difficulties stem from traumatic experiences, a difficult childhood, unhealthy relationships, loss, or perceived failure.
Whatever it is, I’m ready to help you work through it. I will create a safe, trusting, and authentic environment to support you in your personal growth. I specialize in helping people find their inner strength, build their self-esteem, and live up to their full potential.
Ever since I was a little girl I have been a deeply empathetic person. At a very young age I recognized that some people struggled more than others as a result of underlying mental health issues, difficult childhoods, traumatic events, and societal challenges such as poverty. Through various people and significant events, I saw how these types of struggles impacted people’s well-being. Eventually I knew my calling was to become a therapist who could help people through their pain. To achieve this vision, I attended Vanderbilt University to study Human and Organizational Development with an emphasis in Health and Human Services for my undergraduate degree. Additionally, I minored in Child and Adolescent Development.
Instead of going directly in to graduate school, I decided that I first wanted to gain real life professional experience. I wanted to extend my knowledge beyond books and classroom lecture. During that time, I learned that I best aligned with the values and teachings of Marriage and Family Therapy because of the discipline’s emphasis on how relationships and systems impact nearly everything we do. Therefore, after five years of practical experience, I entered graduate school at San Diego State University where I earned a Master’s degree in Counseling.
Real Life Experience
My education has definitely impacted my skills as a therapist by learning the theoretical foundations and techniques of well-established professionals. But without a doubt, my real life experience has been more impactful. Professionally, I have 20 years experience working in mental health with children, teens, families, and adult individuals whose lives have been impacted by trauma, mental illness, poverty, oppression and marginalization. I worked in community organizations for a majority of the years, providing therapy and supervisory services in juvenile justice prevention and intervention, homeless and runaway youth shelters, crisis management, and intensive case management for seriously emotionally disturbed. All of these programs were family-centered and strength-based, valuing the inclusion of each family member and focusing on the inherent strengths of each individual. In addition, a large chunk of my experience comes from working at a leading trauma-informed agency in Chula Vista, California.
Who I am as a therapist has also been significantly shaped by my experience of being a therapy client. During times of struggle or when I want to work on a personal goal, I turn to therapy for support. Therefore, I know what it feels like to be a new client, to be vulnerable enough to show my raw self, and to try different interventions. I keep my experience of being a client at the forefront of my mind to ensure that I always remain in-tune with what my client may be experiencing.
Theoretical Orientation and Modalities
Combining my experience as a client and as a professional, I lean towards client-centered, family systems, attachment, cognitive behavioral, and solution-focused theories. I hold myself to very high standards in regards to being culturally sensitive and responsive. I always operate from a trauma-informed and strength-based lens. I often incorporate art as an intervention technique if the client is interested. I am trained in the following techniques and use them regularly:
· EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
· TFCBT (Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
· TCYM (Trauma-Conscious Yoga Method).
It is important to me to stay active in the community to contribute to the improvement of mental health services. My current involvement includes the following:
· Chair Elect for the AAMFT (American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy) MFT’s Working in Trauma Interest Network.
· Mentor in Minority Fellowship Program through AAMFT
· Texas Board Approved LMFT Supervisor
· Providing community trainings (most recently I provided a webinar training to personnel in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department on “Seeing Delinquency Through a Trauma Lens”)
Amanda Wallingsford, LMFT-S