Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Lopez.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Melissa. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
If someone would have told me that one day I would have my own private practice I would have laughed at them. Honestly, after I graduated from clinical social work school, I did not even think that doing private practice was something that interested me. I entered the field of psychotherapy because I saw a need for therapists like me, a Queer person of color. As a Latinx/Xicana born to two immigrants from Mexico I witnessed firsthand the disparities that exist in the mental health field. As diverse as we sometimes think this city is, there is still a lack in representation of people of color in the mental health field, which is still a field that is majority white.
Seeing the need for a Latinx/Xicana/person of color in the field, I thought that I would always work in an agency providing therapy services. I came into private practice after having lost one of my agency positions due to funding cuts at the agency, and while I looked into finding another agency position a colleague of mine encouraged me to start thinking about building my own practice. I still was not sold on the idea of having a private practice, but while I was on the job hunt I decided to start seeing some clients in a colleague’s office when they were not using it. This was back in March 2010, shortly thereafter I decided to join a psychotherapy group for a few months and it was then that I realized that I could be doing this on my own. Having come from a very disempowered background I feel that I never really had the confidence to be able to create and cultivate my own space.
In November of 2010, I decided it was time for me to create Counseling for all Seasons an individual private practice in Pasadena providing individual and couples therapy. What I realized was that there was a need for a Latinx/person of color therapist in the private practice sector of therapy. Many clients came to me stating they had been searching for either a Queer, a POC or someone who spoke Spanish. Majority of my client’s identity as either Queer or people of color or both and come to me because I have tried to cultivate a practice which moves away from old mental health ideals of pathologizing and being a blank slate, rather I build relationships with the clients I work with and feel that my clients have a need to be seen and heard by a mental health therapist that understands them culturally but also understands the systemic oppression they have faced or are facing.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think there have always been ups and downs. For one, as a therapist, you are usually taught to follow certain rules, such as never disclosing personal facts about yourself. My clients all know my political views. This was a hard decision for me to make, to cultivate my own path in a world where we are told as therapists to follow certain guidelines. For me, it was important clients know where I stand politically especially in this political climate. I know a lot of other professionals do not like that approach of mine, but I feel that the clients that seek me out due to knowing that I am a lot like them and not someone who is actively causing harm in my political views.
Counseling For All Seasons – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize in working with marginalized, oppressed communities. As a QPOC, many of my clients fall somewhere on the QTPOC, POC identity spectrum. I work with many activists and people engaged in social change. Clients who seek me out know that I have an understanding of oppression and intersectionalities and bring that in the room as we discuss day to day issues that clients face. I have a specialized focus on grief work, trauma work, and couples work. I do stray away from traditional therapists in that I attempt to focus on the environment we live in as the problem not the person. I am definitely most proud of creating a space for femmes, people of color, Queer folks can feel they are seen and heard in their many intersectionalities.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Definitely creating my own practice. It is one of the things I can honestly say I did by myself and I feel really empowered by that.
- $140.00 per session
- Address: 107 S. Fair Oaks Ave #312
Pasadena, CA 91105
- Website: http://www.counseling4allseasons.com/
- Phone: 323-841-9950
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: counseling4allseason
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/counseling4allseasons/