Today we’d like to introduce you to Genesis Espinoza.
Genesis, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Hello everyone! My name is Genesis Espinoza. I was born and raised in Pacoima, CA. I am a daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico and El Salvador. My parents divorced when I was very young and I was raised by my strong and resilient Salvadorian mother. El Salvador is a big part of my culture and upbringing. I love pupusas! Since I was little, I loved school and set out to initially become a doctor. I attended the University of California, Irvine for undergrad and began to take pre-med courses. Within the first two years of college, I realized that pre-med was not for me. It was a difficult time for me emotionally since I had always dreamed of being a doctor. This is the first time I experienced anxiety and depression. Regardless of the situation, I decided to move forward and began to take psychology courses since I had always been intrigued by the human mind and knew I wanted to help people. I ended up falling in love with psychology and decided I wanted to become a therapist to help people with their mental health. I discovered that my purpose was to help people heal and realized that my empathy and compassion for people would help me achieve my goal. My first internship in psychology was at the Drake Institute of Behavioral Medicine, where I was a Neurophysical trainer doing Neurofeedback on children struggling with ADHD and Asperger’s Disorder. This was my first-hand clinical experience that further reinforced my decision to pursue psychology at the Master’s level.
After the Drake Institute, I worked at California PsychCare as an Applied Behavioral Analysis therapist working with children on the Autism Spectrum for about three years. My role was to teach children on the spectrum social skills, communication skills, play skills, gross and fine motor skills, and independent living skills. I loved working with this population as it taught me about persistence, faith, resilience, and the beautiful minds of those with Autism. I almost became a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst, but when I enrolled at Pepperdine University for the Marriage and Family Therapist program, I knew that becoming an MFT was truly my calling.
Once I obtained my intern number, I began working at Child and Family Center in Santa Clarita, CA where I was a Wraparound Therapist. I worked with low SES, predominantly Latino, and intense/high-risk children and teenagers dealing with depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, anxiety, anger issues, and detainment from the Department of Children and Family Services. The mission of Wraparound was to help keep families together or to help reunify families with the help of a team-based approach. I really enjoyed working alongside a team of professionals since it helped instill a sense of camaraderie and support. I gained a lot of wonderful experience that helped me grow clinically.
After gaining experience as a Wraparound therapist, I worked as an Outpatient therapist at El Centro del Pueblo in Echo Park, CA where I obtained my certifications in Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Managing and Adaptive Practice (MAP), which are evidence-based practices for therapy. At this agency, I primarily worked with a lot of Central American clients with a wide range of trauma. Additionally, I began to work at Valley of Hope Children’s Inc., a non-profit organization, where I helped victims of crime; primarily domestic violence survivors. And finally, I worked at The Help Group, where I was an Outpatient Assessor mainly doing DMH assessments and providing individual and family therapy. At this agency, I was fortunate to have a great supervisor and gained a lot of valuable experience and got certified in Individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (ICBT). I got licensed at this agency but I knew that I wanted to open up my own private practice to be my own boss and accomplish my dreams.
Has it been a smooth road?
Opening my own private practice was not easy. I had so many doubts that I could be successful, especially since I did not have any business background and did not really know other private practice therapists that could guide me. Nevertheless, with anxiety and faith intertwined, I opened my own private practice. For several months I was working three jobs at my own private practice part-time, at The Help Group, and Valley of Hope Children’s Inc. trying to save enough money to eventually go full-time into my own business. My anxiety and stress were through the roof at this point. I noticed I was getting burn out, depressed, had vicarious trauma, and was getting impacted physically. It seemed as I was working 24/7 doing paperwork, assessments, questionnaires, and making sure I met productivity. I knew something had to change. I thought: I can’t leave my agency, I will lose all my benefits and health insurance. How will I make it on my own? I started receiving therapy myself (yes, therapists need therapists too!). With the help and support of my significant other, my mom, and my mentor, I just decided to go for it. I’m so glad I did! At this time, I started doing immigration evaluations, which also gave me the confidence and encouragement to go full-time in my private practice.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Healing and Growth story. Tell us more about the business.
I got licensed in October 2018 and officially opened my private practice, Healing and Growth, on January 2019. I feel really grateful for all the blessings I have received. I specialize in children, adolescents, and adults struggling with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I also conduct immigration evaluations and collaborate with immigration lawyers and paralegals to help provide the immigrant population a chance at acquiring the American dream through means of psychosocial assessments that can provide significant assistance in their cases. I am trained in providing U-Visa evaluations, Asylum evaluations, Domestic Violence evaluations (VAWA), T-Visa evaluations, and Extreme Hardship Waiver evaluations. Through these evaluations, individuals attain a significant piece of psychological evidence that can help them obtain a green card, residency in the U.S., and evidence to help them avoid deportation. I am proud of the work that I do with the immigrant and Latino population. My mother is an immigrant from El Salvador who risked her life to come to the U.S. in order to provide me and her children with a chance at a better life. Everything I am, I owe to my mother. I want to help the Latino community by helping them in which ever way that I can to help them stay together with their family and help them with their mental health by decreasing their fears of deportation and giving them more peace of mind.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
In the next 5-10 years, I see the mental health field growing and expanding even more. I am thrilled to see that mental health therapy is already starting to become more de-stigmatized and normalized in the media, community, and society as a whole. In the next 5-10 years, I see everyone trying therapy at least one time without the fear of being deemed as “crazy” or “ill.” I believe that women of color bilingual therapists will be even more in demand, which will give more opportunities to Latina entrepreneurs in the mental health field.
- Address: 10600 Sepulveda Blvd. Suite 105-E Mission Hills, CA 91345
- Website: www.healingandgrowth.org
- Phone: 818-351-6717
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: healing_and_growth
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