HOW I GOT STARTED:
I started my training in Montreal, Canada. In 1993 I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree at Concordia University, specializing in psychology. The focus of this degree was mostly on research so I had the opportunity to participate in studies researching infant language development in a bilingual home and self-esteem development in school aged children, in association with the parent-child relationship.
I learned that psychological research is an important base from which to develop clinical skills. As such, for the next three years, I continued working in research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada as the coordinator of a clinical trial studying infant feeding problems, the parent-child relationship, and attachment.
After conducting many semi-structured parent attachment interviews, observing and rating parent-child (ages 0-3) play and feeding interactions, and presenting at conferences, I felt ready to pursue training as a clinician. In 1996, I moved to Los Angeles and attended Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. In 1998 I received my Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. In 2001, I was licensed to practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California.
HOW DID I GET MY CLINICAL TRAINING?:
In my MFT Traineeship and Internship, I worked as a clinician for children and their families at a Family Service Agency in Hollywood. I provided school and clinic based services. Roughly 6 months into my traineeship, I began weekly parenting groups. The groups were made up of parents from the community, parents of the children who received services at the agency, and court mandated parents.
From 1998 to 2000, I had the privilege of working with pregnant and parenting teenage girls who lived in residential placement. They lived in placement for various reasons but mostly because, without the group home, they would not have a safe place to live or to raise their own children (ages prenatal to 5 years old).
My role as the developer and coordinator of an infant mental health and parenting program at this residential placement resulted directly from my previous experience and training addressing developmental and attachment issues inherent in the parent-child relationship. In our program, the teen mothers and their children had the opportunity to participate in weekly parenting classes. In addition, I offered weekly Mommy and Me groups to enhance the parent-child relationship and to encourage positive development in the children. They were offered hands-on education in infant and child development, including cognitive, motor, and language enhancing activities for the infants and toddlers.
After working at the residential facility, I joined an amazing group of clinicians at a directly operated Los Angeles County, Department of Mental Health crisis clinic for children. For 13 years, I worked as a crisis therapist and clinical supervisor. This agency helps children from ages 2 to 18 who are struggling to function at home, in school, or with their peers. As a clinician, I provided crisis assessment, stabilization, differential diagnosis and intervention. As a supervisor, I guided and assisted licensed and unlicensed clinicians with these same theapeutic tasks. I also provided ongoing trainings to staff, interns, and community professionals on various clinical topics. This was an amazing clinical and administrative learning experience especially in crisis intervention, differential diagnosis, and in developing my supervisory skills.