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Meet Janice Vargas of Moonwake Wellness

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janice Vargas.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Janice. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
“Study hard so you can get paid to use your brain” is something I heard often when I was growing up. My parents immigrated from Mexico at a young age, and despite having an education in their country of origin, they were relegated to physical labor in the states.

They placed a huge emphasis on education and constantly reminded me that education was power. Luckily for them (and me), I enjoyed school and did very well academically. I aspired to become a lawyer or a psychotherapist someday. The notion of helping others called to me early on and I enjoyed being a good listening ear for my friends and family. I remember being 12 years old when I proclaimed I was going to be a cognitive behavior therapist. Why did I pick cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)? Who knows!

Clearly, my 12-year-old self knew what she was talking about, because I do, in fact, love using CBT. When I was 15 years old, someone very near and dear to my heart attempted suicide. Thankfully, they survived. I will never forget the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach nor the utter sense of helplessness that overtook me when this person was taken away to get the care that they needed. I knew right then that helping others find hope again was what I really wanted to do. I could not help this special person at the time, but I made a promise to myself that I would know how to help in the future.

All it takes is one person to make a difference. One person to understand you and remind you why life is worth living. I wanted to be that person for those who felt like they had reached the end of their rope. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2012 and my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology in 2014. I worked for a non-profit community mental health agency for about five years following my graduation; helping the most at-risk youth in Long Beach and Compton overcome difficulties associated with anxiety, depression, and trauma.

The work was rigorous, challenging, and most of all, life-changing. Not just for them, but for me too. The impact I dreamed of having someday was becoming a reality. I was instilling hope. I was saving lives. I became a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in June 2018 and opened my private practice doors in September 2018. These days I specialize in love and relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but those with family, friends and ourselves. I have extensive knowledge working with people of color and interracial couples.

Despite seeing more adults in my own office, I definitely have a special place in my heart for depressed teens. I always will. I am so lucky to do the work that I do and the opportunity to cross paths with the most incredible individuals. My clients are inspiring in every way and are constant reminders of the perseverance and strength that we humans are capable of. I can honestly say, I have my dream job.

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?
It has not been a smooth road. I don’t believe anything worth doing is without its challenges. The road to licensure was tough – accruing thousands of hours of experience to sit for a clinical exam is no easy feat! With that said, every hour spent helping my kiddos was absolutely worth it.

The hardest part of running a private practice is the business side of it. My education and training prepared me clinically. Marketing? Advertising? ACCOUNTING?! Yikes. The last year has been a huge learning curve, but I truly believe I am better for it. Patience and delayed gratification were never my strong suits.

Making the decision to work for myself and run a successful practice has forced me to grow and step out of my comfort zone in ways I never thought possible.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Moonwake Wellness story. Tell us more about the business.
I named my business Moonwake Wellness. I wanted the name to reflect the kind of therapeutic work that I do — insight-oriented, reflective, healing. I also wanted a word that was not popular or overused. This was a difficult process as all the great words I had in mind were already in practice. By happenstance, I stumbled upon “moonwake” on a google image search. It means, “the reflection of moonlight on a body of water.” It was perfect.

I specialize in relational therapy. I enjoy working with high-conflict couples who are stuck in negative cycles and cannot seem to get along anymore. I enjoy helping my couples experience “a-ha!” moments and motivating them to gear their relationship toward a more safe, fulfilling and secure partnership.

In addition to couples, I work with individuals and teens. There is something very rewarding about working with individuals going through a recent breakup or divorce. These are vulnerable moments, often involving drastic lifestyle changes.

Many individuals feel as though they lost themselves in their romantic relationship and are not quite sure how to find their footing again. Words cannot adequately describe the pride and joy I feel when my clients start to regain their sense of self. When they tell me, “I deserve better’, and they truly believe it.

I believe I am great at what I do because I truly connect with my clients. I provide therapy in both Spanish and English and practice from a culturally sensitive perspective. I am my authentic self in the room, and I create a safe space for them to be themselves as well.

Unconditional positive regard and acceptance is something that is FELT. When two people are genuinely open and fully present, magic can happen.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am one of those people that believe everything happens for a reason. I do not, however, believe that things happen without effort. I think the world presents opportunities and it is up to us to decide how we will respond to these opportunities. Will we be active participants? Or will we simply let life happen around us?

I set goals for myself and take the necessary steps to get there. I mentioned earlier that I knew I wanted to study psychology when I was a middle schooler. I also knew I could not do psychotherapy the way I wanted without at least having a master’s degree. I was lucky enough to have very supportive parents who allowed me to believe I could accomplish anything I wanted IF I worked hard for it.

Now, I try to help my clients find that sense of purpose and autonomy in their own lives. Luck will not make things happen for us, but it can set the stage for us to take control of what we can and make things happen for ourselves.

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