My Mission: Supporting you on your path to love and self acceptance
“Who is this young woman who thinks she can help me or my child? You look like a teenager, how old are you?”
Hello, I'm Jessica.
I'm a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. As Your ally, I will help you feel more whole, by learning to truly care for, nurture and love all parts of yourself. When you were younger you experienced a lot of pain. Pain from sexual abuse, from parents who were not supportive, and from feeling like you didn't belong. As an adult you have poured yourself into work and maybe even family, in order to erase that pain inside, yet something is still missing. You struggle with self worth and your identity. Together I will help you learn to truly love and accept yourself, so you can experience more joy and less pain in your life.
I grew up in the San Francisco bay area back in the early 80’s and 90’s, to a wonderful, loving, hardworking, and sometimes exhausting (meaning she made me feel exhausted) single mother. I have an older brother, he’s 9 years older than me, so he kind of filled in that role of father figure. I remember him helping me with long division (do they even teach this still?) and evidently he also taught me how to read (according to my mom). I also have two younger adopted siblings, who I co-parented with my mom.
The Younger Years:
As a kid I loved playing basketball and doing gymnastics. My best friend and I (still friends to this day) would play basketball at the playground until sundown and since we both came from single parent homes we would catch the bus home after school together. For some time she lived right across the street from me, then later I moved and we were only a couple blocks away.
When I was 11 years year old I discovered the radio show Loveline, with Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla. I would listen to this show every night as I went to bed, Sunday-Thursday , and loved it. People would call and have all kinds of questions about relationships and sex. Almost daily someone would call with a particular problem and Dr. Drew would ask this question (or some variation of this question), “what happened when you were little?” Inevitably the person would have a trauma background, usually sexual abuse, and Dr. Drew would go about explaining the connection between the current problem and that past abuse and I was fascinated. This is what lead me to falling in love with psychology and human behavior. I knew I had to be a doctor just like Dr. Drew.
The Teen Years:
At 16 my newborn baby cousin came to live with us for almost year due to her parents drug abuse. I loved that little girl like she was my own and it was amazing that she was such an easy baby. When she had to go back to her parents I was devastated. Then they disappeared for what seemed like eternity and I felt such a hole in my little teenage heart. Then one day, while I was on work, I saw her. It had been 2 years and it was random. Right there at the BART station I saw her. I called my mom, she made some phone calls and we were able to connect with her parents. She came for a visit and we saw the state she was in, and we were heartbroken.
Now here is the thing I didn’t really understand the impact of trauma at that moment, it was only my first year of college, but looking back on it now as a professional I am in shock. Now this is her story so I wont go into details. Just know that my mother, by the time she was 3 and her brother was almost 2, had adopted them.
We became a parenting team at that point and it was incredibly hard. We got them therapy when they were younger and this seemed to help.
The Young Adult Years:
As I continued my studies and working in various nonprofits I saw the impacts of trauma. Working with little kids who were sexually abused when they were even younger meant that the kids often acted out on each other sexually at the group home if we weren’t vigilant. There were teen girls who not only experienced sexual abuse but they also experienced emotional and physical abuse within their family system (complex trauma, c-PTSD) and now they were in the group home suffering badly from depression. They didn’t shower for days, couldn’t get out of bed, often cut themselves, and they would engage in inappropriate sexual relationships easily becoming connected to any boy (from school) or girl (within their cottage) who gave them a little bit of attention. This broke my heart as the one taking care of the girls (not as a therapist but more like a caretaker).
During my 20’s I studied in school for psychology and worked in group homes for disabled children who also had an abuse history, teen mothers who were on probation, and places where kids whose behaviors were so unmanageable they couldn’t live in foster homes or group homes. There is actually a level system for group homes in California with 14 being the highest and that’s where I worked, for years. When these kids were triggered, usually something happening interpersonally, they would fight the adults or other children or they would run away. Sometimes they would be immobile. What I was witnessing was the flight-fight-freeze response.
Even though I don’t currently work with behaviors this severe in my private practice I often still think about those kids who are now adults and their struggles. I have even worked with parents who had this type of past and I can see how it still affects them to this day. This is the legacy of trauma. The reason why I am so passionate about healing is because I can see how bad things can be for people whose trauma goes untreated or is incorrectly treated. It’s not about this therapy modality or that one, but its about a combination of relational repair, helping to discharge trauma trapped in the body using a variety of movement based exercises, and changing negative thoughts and beliefs about self.
It’s also why I’m a proponent of building a circle of support for survivors because for the people who were able to find happiness and relief after their early trauma they had people who loved and cared about them. They were also able to love and care for themselves which made them better able to receive love from others. For the ones who continued to struggle they didn’t have the love and support they needed. Therapy alone was not enough.
So to answer your questions above, yes I do look young and I am grateful for this. My young clients feel more connected to me because of this youth and this helps them so much in the healing process. I have lived the experience of taking care of children with developmental trauma and I know how hard it can be for parents. As an adult who has worked with the most severe behaviors as a result of trauma and the separations they have from loved ones, I believe early intervention with the right therapist is important. Through my education and because I offer the best I stay up to date on the latest research and implement best practices to help my clients. The result is that therapy does work.
Remember: Healing is a process not a cure. It’s not like taking a pill and now your all better never to return. Healing is more complex and sophisticated. It’s the changing of your baseline of one filled with intense negative feelings and tightness in the body to being more open and positive about life’s experiences. When your active in the healing process your perspective on life changes. You no longer believe that bad things are always happening to you or that you are unworthy of nothing good, but rather you can separate yourself from the event and find ways to overcome your challenges/stresses with optimism. Healing creates a completely different experience and feeling about yourself, others, and the world.
Take the First Step On The Path To Healing
Specializations & Experience Treating:
- Child sexual abuse, Incest, Rape, and Molestation Counseling
- Complex Trauma & PTSD
- Emotional Dysregulation in children, teens, adults and parents
- Attachment wounds from early childhood
- Self-Esteem, Self Worth, & Tackling Imposter Syndrome
- Parenting Support & Healing as they cope with their child's abuse
- Multicultural & Multi Identity Affirming Therapist
- Early Child Development Mental Health related issues (0-5 y/o)
- Support for English Speaking Olim
- Dr. Bruce Perry's Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (Brain Mapping). Certification through the Phase I level.
- San Francisco State University, BA Psychology 2008
- Chapman University, MA Psychology 2011