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Meet Amber Shaw of Ventura Counseling and Wellness Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amber Shaw.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Amber. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up, I never really knew what I wanted to be. I think the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is a loaded question. There were a few things I knew I WANTED, just was not sure if there was a career that encompassed all those things. I wanted to help people, I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted to make a change in the world that I knew to be too familiar for most. But let me start from the beginning. My name is Amber Shaw, I am an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, who currently works with the Ventura Counseling and Wellness Center. I am a 20 something years old, with a passion for understanding the misunderstood. I was born in Hawaii, raised in Las Vegas, spent a few years in Redondo Beach before moving to beautiful Ventura County.

During my adolescence, my love of the hardcore music scene in Southern California slowly became my life. I became infatuated with the mental health and wellness of musicians. After working for years in the music industry, the passion for “helping people” came to fruition. This is where I was given the chance to promote bands, be a member of numerous street teams, work at music festivals such as Warped Tour and California Metalfest. During my undergrad, I was also an intern for Century Media Records which sparked my love for all things music. I went into college with the goal of working in the music industry. That quickly changed when I realized this was not my calling. I was always fascinated by the human mind, I always embraced the darkness of the world, to figure out a way to create “light” and change it. I became passionate about something totally different, mental health, and the populations that go unseen.

I graduated in 2015 with my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University Channel Islands. Then, I received my Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University in 2016. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Phillips Graduate University in 2018.

Right now, I am currently working toward a doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology and Criminology through California Southern University. I hope to one day work with the incarcerated population. Next to musician’s struggling with mental health; prison reform, mental health access for the incarcerated and supports for those affected by incarceration are things I want to dedicate my life to.

As an up incoming clinician, my hope is to help people embrace fear, overcome obstacles that once stood in their way. Facing new challenges every day can be scary. Embracing transformation and growth can also be scary. As an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, I do my best to encourage compassion for my clients and their journeys, whatever that may look like and no matter how scary it may feel. I want to embark with everyone on their journey. I help my clients integrate their passions into their session — whether that be music, art, or love for an animal — to create new ways of seeing the world and allowing space for self-care and self-compassion.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not. A smooth road may have been nice, but that surely was not the case. I was kicked out of my house at the age of 16 and really had to figure out a way to take my life back despite this experience. I had to start thinking for myself, realize my potential, and move beyond this hardship.

Throughout my life, I also struggled with depression and anxiety. I think this struggle helped me become a clinician, it gives me the ability to work with clients beyond a surface level. I understand what it is like to be sad and not know what to do. This experience helped me grow into my role as a therapist, which at the end of the day I am truly grateful for.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Ventura Counseling and Wellness Center – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Ventura Counseling and Wellness Center is an affordable counseling center located in sunny Ventura. Some of the services we provide are individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, group therapy, art therapy, and alternative healing and wellness which includes reiki and yoga sessions for clients. We encompass the importance of the mind, soul and body connection with a focus on overall wellness. As a counseling center, we have therapists who specialize in a wide array of populations. I have experience working with several populations including those with developmental disabilities, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and legal troubles. I also love working with adolescence and transitional age adults. But my true passion is working with the incarcerated population and their families.

As a center, we were awarded with the “Best in Ventura County” Mental Health Clinic title in 2019. We are a force in the community, we’ve participated in working with Diversity Collective at Ventura County Pride, multiple health and wellness expos, and have been supported by grants from United Way in the past. What sets us apart from others is our range of accessible services and presence in the community. Ventura County has faced some tragedies in the past few years, including wildfires and a mass shooting; in which we were able to provide services for those who were struggling during those times. We have strived to become a great mental health resource in Ventura County.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the future include finishing my doctorate, expanding my personal nonprofit (check out Musician’s Mental Health Alliance), and hopefully create a mental health program for rehabilitation, reentry, and preparation of entry for the incarcerated population.

I also hope to help expand Ventura Counseling and Wellness Center, potentially create more resources and continue to provide excellent services to our community.

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