I started at CALM as a graduate student trainee from Loyola Marymount University in August 2005, and was hired upon graduation from my masters’ program on June 1, 2006. I have been working at CALM now for 11 years total! I hope to be a CALM lifer.
I am both a Board-Registered Clinical Art Therapist and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I primarily work individually with children who have been sexually abused. I lead an art therapy and expressive writing group for girls who have survived sexual trauma. Additionally, I am the Art Therapy Consultant at CALM. I train all of our CALM therapists in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Carpinteria locations in the specialized modality of art therapy. I provide one-on-one art therapy consultation to all CALM therapists about their clients’ artwork. I testify in court on behalf of my traumatized clients. I provide art therapy trainings to many other non-profit agencies and several universities about art therapy and trauma. This past year, I have created and developed a wellness program at CALM to address, nurture, and support our clinicians with their vicarious trauma; the program is called Wellness Buddies. It has been a popular program with our wonderful staff to help support them in their self-care and wellness.
Working as a trauma-informed psychotherapist with children who have survived sexual abuse has been the greatest honor of my life. One teen girl who had been molested as a young child by a trusted relative and who had made the decision then, at age 8, not to ever talk about her abuse came into CALM after she and her boyfriend saw a CALM commercial. She told her boyfriend about the sexual abuse, who encouraged her to tell her parents and to get help at CALM. Her initial presentation was completely shut down and quiet. She wore dark, baggy clothing and hid behind her long hair, never making eye contact. Her self-esteem had been significantly impacted by the sexual abuse and the secret keeping. She drew pictures using only dark colors and chaotic scribbles. The themes in her early artwork were sadness and despair. She drew pictures about feeling polluted and abused and like she did not matter. She barely whispered. Art Therapy was a useful modality for her, as she was initially able to draw and write about her feelings and slowly but surely, find her “voice” in the artwork. This girl bloomed in the safe container of the validating therapeutic relationship. She began to speak up more often, and stopped “hiding” in her clothing and behind her hair. She became more confident and vocal. She advocated for her little sister, who had been molested by the same relative, to speak to the police and to get treatment at CALM. After learning how her relative had “groomed” her and how he had even “groomed” her parents, she began to see how none of what he did to her was her fault. She gradually regained her lost voice and is now the first generation in her family to attend college. She started using brighter colors and her artwork became expressive of other emotions, such as happiness, excitement, and hope for her future. She moved on to my transitional teen expressive writing art therapy group before terminating at CALM. She is now studying psychology and wishes to become a therapist one day, so that she may help others like her. She continues to use expressive journal writing and art to cope with anxious feelings and to support her own emotional regulation. I am inspired by her resilience, her growth and her bravery. After a year of art psychotherapy, I now see an empowered young woman who knows her own worth!
I would help every child see their own value, independent of the abuse that they have experienced.
I would eradicate child abuse. Child abuse is at the root of every social ill, from domestic violence, rape, gang violence, prostitution, physical abuse, drugs & alcohol problems, eating disorders, body image issues, issues of self-harm, violent crimes, mass shootings, animal abuse, and to more child abuse, etc. Prisons are filled with adults who were abused as children. Hurt people, hurt people.
I have 2 things to share: One, the quality of the therapists at CALM is astounding. These psychotherapists and social workers are among the best human beings I have ever known. They are truly incredible people. Secondly, one myth people tend to have about the work we do at CALM is that it is entirely depressing. I would like people to know that children come to CALM initially depressed and anxious as a result of the abuse and neglect they have experienced or observed, but throughout the course of psychotherapy, they learn tools of coping and emotional regulation. There is often a great deal of humor and lightheartedness as the children begin to heal and move towards their own health and well-being. I enjoy watching the children come more alive in the process. I appreciate seeing their beautiful artwork and hearing their stories of resilience and growth. It is an honor and a privilege to witness and support their transformation.