“I have experience living in the in-between places of identity. I constantly navigate the binaries of being white/latinx, hypomanic/depressive, and straight/gay. This flowing between worlds is invisible. I’m white-passing, so strangers don’t know I’m biracial. I’m managing my mental health, so many don’t know I have a bipolar disorder. I’m straight-passing, so many don’t know that I’m not. It is in my sexuality where I feel the least visible.”Read More
Our body is a system. Our mental, physical, social, and emotional health is an integrated whole that functions – or dysfunctions – together. Sexual health is included in that mix; it’s an essential part of being human. We are all born sexual beings. Sexuality is about pleasure, enjoyment, sensuality, and joy – whether it is a part of a sex act or not.Read More
Adverse experiences early in life, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), can result in trauma that potentially affects the brain architecture of developing children. In 2016, an estimated 3.4 million Texas children had one or more ACE. Child maltreatment in its many forms makes up half of the recognized ACEs. Advocacy group TexProtects, Champions for Safe Children, estimates child maltreatment cost Texas over $55 billion in 2017, in a new report ACEs Uncovered: Powerful preventative strategies to promote resilience and brain health for a better Texas tomorrow.Read More
In Basic Techniques, we'll also be talking more about choosing our theoretical orientations, the building blocks of how we think about the innate aspects of humanity, what we believe creates change in human behavior, what creates mental health challenges and atypical behavior, and what our particular practice of therapy looks like. At the moment I'm incredibly interested in Constructivist Theory/Narrative Therapy, and Feminist Theory and Therapy. I've also been digging into Adaptive Information Processing, the theory behind the Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization (EMDR) technique.Read More
Some of the papers I have been working on the past few months for TexProtects have been published! Pamela McPeters, our Vice President of Public Affairs gave testimony on Thursday, Aug. 9, to a joint hearing of the Texas House Committees on Public Health and Human Services on the impact substance use has had on the Child Protective Services (CPS) system and the children and families it serves. I helped work on the two written testimony briefs we submitted to legislators at the hearing. I am very proud of the work we're doing at TexProtects to advocate for the state's most vulnerable children and families. Below are a sampling and links to the briefs.Read More
TexProtects has me working hard on various briefings for Texas legislators: briefings on substance use as it relates to families involved or at risk of becoming involved with Child Protective Services. I've been enrolled in a once a week class studying the theories and associated techniques behind different counseling practices. I've graduated to Senior Sexual Assault Advocate at SAFE! My partner Ben and I moved in together, I've been making sure to see friends and family when my schedule permits, and I've been watching a lot of The Wire, Jane the Virgin, Queer Eye, and The Great British Baking Show.Read More
I am proud to announce that I have joined the staff of TexProtects, The Texas Association for the Protection of Children, as their Austin-based Editor + Administrative Assistant! I started work Monday and I will be working for them part-time while I continue my studies in professional counseling at Texas State University.Read More
From June 14-17, 2018 I attended the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists annual conference. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by people who believe in sexuality education and sexual health. I attended 10 panels and plenaries in four days and was thoroughly exhausted by the end.Read More
I want to counsel survivors recovering from sexual and domestic trauma. I started volunteer work as a sexual assault advocate in October 2017 and am painfully aware of the need for working with this population. I also want to work with clients in monogamous and nonmonogamous intimate relationships, and people who are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community. I want to become a certified sex therapist, although certification is not the most important part of that--what is important to me is the education that goes into becoming a sex therapist that will help me navigate counseling the populations I want to serve.Read More
I'm sharing here an essay I wrote for my Professional Counseling Orientation class this past semester. It details what I do as a sexual assault advocate at the SAFE Alliance. Advocacy work is an important value in the counseling profession and I am honored to get to help people who have had their autonomy, their sense of safety, and their consent violated.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call either the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or, if you are in Austin, the 24/7 SAFEline at 1-512-267-7233. A common misconception is that to get a forensic examination and resources you need to report to the police. While reporting your assault to the police can help build a case against the perpetrator(s), you can also opt for a non-report visit to SAFE to get help. You will then have five years to decide whether to report to police or not, after those five years your forensic kit will be destroyed.Read More
My first semester of counseling grad school is over and I came out of it with a 4.0 GPA! After all the networking, extra training, and classes I did this semester, I'm confident in my choice to change professions and seek a career as a therapist.
As the semester's work intensified, I wasn't able to write as many posts as I had planned. I have a short break now until the summer semester starts, and am able to take a little bit of a breather but am still quite busy (I'm also moving in with my partner of three and a half years, so that's a big step).
I've completed at least six solo sexual assault accompaniments in my time volunteering with SAFE since I began in November. How I approach helping survivors varies from case to case, as does the emotional toll that comes with being an advocate. But with a solid self-care plan, I've been able to balance school, advocacy, and home life. My work at SAFE is also preparing me to provide direct service to clients who need crisis management. It's been a great experience and the sexual assault advocacy team at SAFE is fantastic.
Stay tuned for more blog posts in the near future!
As a reminder, if you or someone you know needs help, below is a list of phone numbers to call:
- (Austin only) Mobile Crisis Outreach Team for Travis County through Integral Care: 1-512-472-4357National
- Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-8255
- Self-injury support: 1-800-366-8288
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration treatment referral helpline: 1‑877‑726‑4727
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233
- National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- (Austin only) 24/7 SAFEline for domestic violence and sexual assault: 1-512-267-7233
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender National Helpline: 1-888-843-4564
- Trans Lifeline: USA-1-877-565-8860, Canada-1-877-330-6366
- National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-223
- Panic disorder information and support: 1-800-647-2642
A 19-year-old gunman* was responsible for the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He left 17 dead and many more victims wounded--both physically and emotionally. This is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while now, but it is not a subject that will reduce in relevance anytime soon.
After the shooting, as after every mass shooting in recent years, debates about mental health funding and gun control abound. But advocates and experts say linking mass shootings to mental illness increases stigma against people who have mental health challenges and erases the need for a debate about the other factors contributing to mass shootings in America. Gun violence is a public health issue, especially since some of the leading factors of mass shootings are domestic violence and toxic masculinity.Read More
Stigma about mental health and mental illness is pervasive in American society. One way to combat it is through art and social media. These Instagrammers are using both to talk about mental health in a way that is relatable, positive, and often humorous. I’ve followed some of these for years and others are newer finds, but all are helping to reduce stigma in unique and creative ways.Read More
Mental health is important for everyone to regulate, whether they have diagnosed mental health challenges, like I do, or not. It’s part of the idea of integrated health--taking care of your mind and your body together. But there are a lot of mental health tips out there, and they’re hard to sort through. Here are some tools that have helped me out of a few of my dark places. I’ve learned these tools through my own experience using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I use some of these tools every day, others I use a few times a year.Read More
I've completed my second week of classes! This week I attended one first class (Counseling Diverse Populations), sat through two lectures (Advanced Counseling Ethics and Professional Counseling Orientation), and turned in my first assignment (my Ethics class). I'm just at the beginning on the path through the rugged terrain of grad school, round two.
Today I looked over the required courses for my degree. I'll have to take 15 courses total, two semesters of approved internships, and one clinical practicum. Including this semester, It will take anywhere from two to three years to graduate (depending on whether I take summer courses or not). I'll also have to sit for the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) before I'm allowed to graduate. If I want, I can take the Licensed Professional Counselor National Counselor Exam (NCE) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) Examination in Marriage and Family Therapy before I graduate, so I can apply for my supervised licensure.
Once I graduate, I'll need to complete 3,000 supervised hours as a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern. At least 1,500 of those hours will need to be direct client care. I'll need to work as an intern for a minimum of 18 months and have up to five years to complete my supervision. Only then, once the application is completed and the LPC board has received all the materials necessary, will I be issued a professional license.
I'm debating whether to continue to pursue an LMFT license as well, although there are some rumors Texas might do away with this licensure within the next Sunset Review cycle.
I have a long road ahead of me!
This week, I started classes for my second round of grad school. I'm attending Texas State University for their Marriage and Family Therapy professional counseling program. It's a big change from journalism (although I'm always going to be a writer and hope to spread my new knowledge to the public through some written form). I have two years or so of school to complete before I can get my intern license, then I have up to five years to accrue 3,000 hours of supervision to get my full license. It's going to be a long journey, but one I'm excited to start.
In this blog, I'll share essays, resources, and musings on mental health, sexuality, gender, and intersectionality.
Welcome to MyND: My New Direction