Who I Am
I’m a compassionate guide and adolescent mental health expert dedicated to improving the lives of teens and families. Working specifically with adolescent mental health since 2014, my passion and expertise come from thousands of hours sitting with young people who have opened up their inner world to me, to trust and receive wisdom in order to practice kindness with themselves.
As a therapist and administrator, I built mental health programs from the ground up, increasing access to support for thousands of middle and high schoolers. During my time working in schools, I learned that sometimes the simplest solutions applied consistently can be the most profound. With school and nonprofit partners, I created curriculum programs that addressed topics such as: emotions, substance use, peer relationships, communication, conflict resolution, self care, identity formation, and cultural pride.
I find that I work best with folks looking for a quick witted, goal-oriented, and approachable clinician. Someone who can weave through the many ups and downs of healing with ease. I don’t work in a silo. My support is robust and I take into careful consideration all the aspects of wellbeing. I believe in a whole-istic approach, that there are multiple ways to experience wholeness - through art, conversation, laughter or mindful presence - whatever floats your boat.
I am a complete nerd with a sense of humor and artistic touch. I ground my work in developmental psychology, attachment theory, and neurobiology. This means that your teen is tended to with evidence based approaches that will stick with them for the long haul. What they learn in therapy will carry them into adulthood. As a team, we will usher your family into the confidence needed to launch a full-on human.
What You're Looking for in a Therapist
You don’t mind having a therapist with personality.
You like to learn and feel engaged wholeheartedly in therapy.
You get that I need to cuss sometimes to relate to the young folks.
You appreciate that I have lived experience working with youth and that I can explain mental health in a relatable way.
You’re open to truthful conversation that helps motivate you toward your personal goals.
You don’t always need answers, but you’re not afraid to ask questions.
You would be okay if what you needed was steps at a time and are not in a rush to make everything better all at once.
A Licensed Professional Here to Guide You
When it comes to your mental health and overall wellbeing, it’s important to have a knowledgeable professional you can turn to. Over the years, I’ve provided counseling and case management services to adolescents in multiple settings: outpatient therapy, schools, foster care, and community programs. My expertise as a licensed clinical social worker covers a broad spectrum of support, and I’m happy to share my experience and qualifications.
2 Years and counting...
Building on my experiences in community mental health, I support individuals and families finding themselves in need of a sounding board and guide to get them through life's ups and downs, with special interest in adolescence and family life. Combining neurology & brain development, attachment theory, and depth psychology, I empower people to dream big and start with the baby steps.
School-based Mental Health
Serving students in the thousands, I facilitated workshops and intervention programs, provided individual and group therapy, and collaborated with psychologists, school staff, and medical professionals for holistic wellbeing. I launched mental health programs for three school districts. I trained and mentored over 30 therapists in youth development, trauma-informed care, and cultural responsiveness.
While working in foster care and housing services, I coached hundreds of individuals and families, motivating them toward goals in sustainability and self reliance. I intervened at the systems level, helping folks go from survival to thriving. I supported underinvested communities facing poverty, oppression, food insecurity and community violence.
Education & Training
Training in Psychotherapy
Motivational Interviewing, 2014
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Dr. Vincent J. Felitti, 2015
Crisis management and stabilization, 2016
Restorative Justice & Mediation, 2017
Perinatal Mental Health Certified (PMH-C) through Postpartum Support International, 2022
Brainspotting Level 1 & 2, 2022
EMDR Level 1 & 2, Training & Consultation, 2023
Master's in Social Work, SDSU
I graduated in 2016 with a specialization in social service administration and community organizing. I took the university's first mentor & mentee program for social workers to new heights and collaborated with alumni networks. I practiced therapy during my studies at a continuation school in San Diego Unified, and while in my second year practicum, I launched San Diego County HHSA's first youth-led civic leadership program. I successfully graduated three cohorts of 34 students with a high percentage of admission and retention in higher education post high school.
Sociology, UC San Diego
Minor in English literature. I worked for a cooperative, student-owned business on campus and learned the beauty of what people can do together when there's equity in power. Graduate of the Chancellor's Undergraduate Diversity Learning Institute, the early years of my consciousness of how identity shapes our experiences were formed. I interned for a local underserved Elementary school to provide social emotional learning. I facilitated the first art show on UCSD's campus that featured artwork from local high schoolers to encourage connections with higher education.
“People turned to guided meditations during the pandemic because it was the most accessible form of mental health care at the time,” Rachel Ruiz, LCSW, a California-based psychotherapist, tells Verywell. “Even therapists were recommending apps for treatment while we transitioned to virtual platforms.”
According to Ruiz, different types of meditation can alleviate a spectrum of mental and physical health concerns. Though the methods may differ, meditation typically involves training the mind to focus on something specific—be it the breath, an object, a visualization or a chant—in order to reach a state of calm and relaxation.
“You don’t understand!” Parents and teens have been saying this to each other for decades. When it comes to supporting a teen with anxiety, it can be even more disorienting. You try supportive listening, letting them take a day off from school. You try tough love, exposing them to ways to overcome their fears. You try relating, and dragging up your old memories doesn’t feel too hot either.
So what to do, when it feels like nothing is working?
Frame Therapy - Parenting Adult Children
An interview with me where I share my thoughts on how to shift your mindset when parenting an adult child, why roles change, and how you can connect across values differences.