“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together”
Thank you for visiting my website.
I want to take this opportunity to tell you about why I became a child therapist…
I was born with a mild hearing impairment that went undetected until I was about 8 years old. I know! But what can I say it was the 80’s! In order to receive services through the NYC public school system, I needed to be evaluated.
The evaluation included a psychological assessment, I was shown the inkblots (so cool!) and I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I answered “a secretary” but that wasn’t “good enough” considering that my academic achievement and performance scores were pretty high. Their recommendations were speech therapy and counseling to work on my self-esteem. That day while we waited for my evaluation, I had watched the front desk lady and thought it seemed like fun to answer phones, type and shuffle papers around.
The thing was, I was a very imaginative child. If I went on a plane, I played flight attendant with my stuffed animals. If I went to the dentist, I would pretend that I was filling a cavity on my Rainbow Brite doll. If I watched a “novela” (Spanish soap opera), I would take my Barbies and act out the dramatic scenes. That day of the evaluation, I probably went home and played “psychologist” and made ink blots on paper.
A few weeks later, I met with the psychologist at school and he tried to ask me questions, I am pretty sure I gave him one-worded answers. He gave me a coloring book instead and I colored happily, I did not want to talk to him. I must have colored for a few sessions and then I never had to go back.
When I was about 10 years old, I read about child abuse for the first time, I knew at that very moment I wanted to help children. Whenever I was given the choice to research a topic for school, I chose child psychology. The more I found out, the more I was determined to learn.
In college, I majored in psychology and I worked at a public elementary school and later for a psychologist. I also tutored kids in foster homes, mentored at-risk youth, and volunteered at a child advocacy center. While I completed my Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling, I worked for a children’s mental health agency as a case manager.
During my practicum, my first case was a child with behavior issues at school. I decided to set up a “classroom” using puppets in the playroom and we role-played appropriate behaviors. It was fun and very reminiscent of my own pretend play as a child. For me, it made more sense to enter his world and use play to help him learn new behaviors instead of just talking to him. It worked, he began doing better in school and he loved coming to see me. My supervisor told me that what I was doing was called “Play Therapy”. I was delighted to hear that something that came so naturally to me was something I could use in my work to help children. She encouraged me to pursue it further and I did.
Once I graduated, I transferred over to a therapist position at the mental health agency, providing in-home and school-based counseling services to children. For 6 years, I worked in a variety of grants and programs, I met so many wonderful families, got to know their stories, and did my best to help them develop better ways to cope. It was at that agency that I also began my training in Play Therapy. I was a “mobile” therapist and the trunk of my car was where I kept all of my play therapy supplies. One of my goals was to have my own office and have a comfortable play therapy space to offer my clients.
In 2012, I officially opened my private practice here in Weston, Florida. It was the best decision I ever made, I am now able to offer my services to families in a way that I have always wanted. Maybe coloring in the psychologist’s office helped me with my self-esteem after all.
I believe that the therapeutic relationship is the key component in treatment. Healing is in human connection. I think when most people look for a therapist they want to relate to them at some level. After all, it is a very unique relationship, as a client, you open up and trust a stranger with your fears, your struggles, and your pain and hope that they can help. Parents want to know about me to entrust me with their child and their family. Teenagers especially need to feel comfortable with me. After all, I am an ADULT that they are letting into THEIR world. This is also the case with children, I have to meet them where they are developmentally and that is done using play.
I am originally from Bogota Colombia, I immigrated as a toddler to Queens, New York. Growing up in the most diverse city in the world, my childhood friends were from all over the world. My family moved to South Florida, where I started high school and ended up having to relearn my Spanish. I am married to my best friend, my husband is my biggest supporter. Life has given us two beautiful children, who have taught me so much about myself and are my daily motivation. I genuinely understand how exhausting yet unbelievably wonderful parenting can be.
When I am not in the office, I am usually busy with my little ones. We like being outdoors, being silly, listening to music, cheering on our sports teams, and dining out. We also have a fur child, a rescue pup, who is currently getting trained as a therapy dog. Buster Moon is the sweetest ball of (hypoallergenic) fluff that can brighten up anyone’s day. I can’t wait for him to join me at the office.
Child psychology is my passion, it’s what I read about for fun, I like to watch psychological thrillers as well as children’s movies. I am also fascinated by neuroscience research on trauma and attachment. Lately, I am on the mission to find out all there is to know about attachment and trauma treatment. I am a huge advocate for play, especially free unstructured outdoor play. I tend to post a whole lot about play and the brain on my social media.
My life is not perfect, it has had its shares of unexpected twists and turns. I am human and life can be tough. I am so incredibly blessed to have wonderful people in my life that supported me and my family through difficult times. Some people change careers after something huge impacts their life. For me, I got more confirmation that I wanted to continue being a child therapist. I feel that there is no other job in the world, I would rather be doing than the one I have been doing for the past 14 years! I truly find this work most rewarding and I am so excited that life has given me the opportunities to do what I love!
My credentials are listed below.
If you believe that I might be a good fit for your child, Contact Me today and schedule a Free 15 Minute Telephone Consultation.
License & Certifications:
- Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor MH9715
- Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor
- Qualified Supervisor for Mental Health Counselor Interns
- Certified FirstPlay® Practitioner
- Certified S.E.A.L Practitioner
- Master’s Degree (MSEd.)Mental Health Counseling, University of Miami, 2006
- Bachelor’s Degree (B.A.) Psychology, Florida International University, 2002
- Introductory and Advanced Collaborative Practice Training -2020
- EMDR and Children: Integrating Play Therapy Techniques – 2019
- Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Parts 1 & 2 – 2019
- Level Two Theraplay® & Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) – 2019
- Level One Theraplay® & Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) – 2018
- FirstPlay® Infant Storytelling Massage Training- 2018
- Play Therapy Strategies for Trauma, Attachment and Dissociation- 2016
- Association for Play Therapy
- The Association for Theraplay®
South Florida Chapter Association for Play Therapy Chair 2019