Trusted Referrals

Sometimes on our journey of growth we find ourselves at a stand still contemplating a Untitled designchange. Whether you are seeking therapy for the first time, restarting your therapeutic path, or finding a new therapist to continue your journey, finding the right person for your unique story can be vital to the therapy process and I am humbled that you may have considered me in that time of need. Unfortunately, I am either unavailable to new clients or I may not be the best fit for your individual needs, so I hope I can continue supporting your therapeutic journey by referring you to some trusted colleagues and resources in the community.


 Centers and Colleagues

New Life Counseling Center: Provides a range of Christian oriented services from various Licensed Professionals who accept various insurances and sliding fee scales
NISD Counseling: Provides culturally-competent services on a sliding fee scale from both Licensed & Associate therapists
Center for Community Counseling & Engagement: Provides low cost services from Student therapists supervised by Licensed professionals
Well Mamas Counseling: Provides culturally competent services from Licensed Professionals who specialize in work with mothers and accept some insurances

Directory Listings

Therapy for Black Girls Directory provides a nation-wide listing of culturally-competent therapists specializing in work with minority women
Psychology Today provides a nation wide listing of therapists and psychologists specializing in various areas of need
San Diego Mental Health Resources can be found by calling: 2-1-1

Emergency Resources

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Access & Crisis Line: 1-888-724-7240
In case of EMERGENCY, dial: 9-1-1.
I hope that these resources will help you create the life that you find most fulfilling and valuable. If you would like to work with me in the future, feel free to check back in the next few weeks to inquire about openings!
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The Mental Health Continuum: Why Mental Health Looks Different for Everyone

Worried Wells to Severe Mental Illness. What is “mental health”? What does it look like? Is it a permanent diagnosis or is it an ever changing state of mind?

The answer is…it depends. I will admit this answer was something I heard a lot as I studied for years to become a therapist. That is the nature of the work however. Mental health is just as important as physical health, but it is not treatable in the same ways. “Mental health” is on a spectrum. Some individuals go to therapy to discuss small issues that come up on a day-to-day basis. While others go to therapy to manage chronic on-going mental illness. Mental illness is a diagnosable, physiological illness that manifests itself in psychological ways, such as clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, and many other diagnosis that are manageable with the correct assistance from a professional.

Example time. If you have a common cold, you will most likely be taking the same medicine as someone else who has a cold. And you both will most likely get better in approximately the same amount of time. Now if you are depressed, you may not be utilizing the same treatment as someone else who is depressed. Because each person’s mind thinks differently, handles stress differently, and responds differently to external stimuli. Therapists have the unique job of taking the time to figure out the right treatment for your mind specifically. Therapy is completely individualized.

There are various ways to approach mental health issues including : self care, talk therapy in an outpatient environment, medication management with a psychiatrist or primary care physician, inpatient care at a rehabilitation center or hospital setting, as well as multiple holistic approaches to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

woman in white tank top standing on concrete surface

Self care can be a simple solution to managing stress and minor mental health concerns on a day-to-day basis. This often emphasizes the holistic approach to maintaining a healthy mental state. A change to your diet, regular exercise, incorporating self care activities, and socializing with trusted family/friends can all help maintain a lifestyle that encourages a healthy mental state. However, for many managing all these aspects of your life can become overwhelming or maybe you have never felt quite balanced in all of these areas of your life.

Seeing a mental health professional in an outpatient environment (such as a private practice setting or local mental health clinic) can help assist you in getting on the right track in all these areas. Mental health professionals include Marriage & Family Therapists, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, and Clinical Psychologists. Seeking out one of these professionals allows you to dedicate an allotted amount of time to talking through the aspects of life that are causing stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, and a plethora of other emotions. Exploring with a therapist where these emotions stem from, how they are affecting you, and solutions to managing these feelings better can greatly improve your mental health. You may see a therapist for a few months or a few years, but the ultimate goal is to get you to a place where you can manage on your own with self care techniques and greater knowledge of your emotions. A mental health professional can also help you discover if a mental illness is what is encroaching on your ability to cope with your life.

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When managing a true mental illness, you want to seek out a Psychiatrist, Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, or your Primary Care Physician to consult with your therapist about the possible inclusion of medication in your mental health treatment. These individuals play a vital role in order to coordinate with your team of mental health professionals. This team works with you to find out what methods of treatment will work best for you as an individual. No two mental illnesses look the same or are managed the same way. Whether it is various dosage levels of medication or frequency of therapy appointments, each individual managing a mental illness will have a unique treatment plan. This team will most likely assist you over an extended period of time and teach you how to reach out for additional help when needed, as a mental illness is often chronic and needs to be managed over your life. Remember though that you are the coach of this team, informing your providers of what feels right, what works best, and describing the experience you are having with all aspects of the treatment.

Inpatient care is what mental health professionals often refer to as “the highest level of care”. Some of the autonomy of the individual is lost at this level because it often dwindles down to the safety of the individual and those around them. The treatment is often decided for the individual by a team of professionals trying to diminish the client’s symptoms and protect them from any harm. For some clients this process begins with a threat of harm to themselves or another identifiable person. Police often become a partner in this treatment process, as they are often the first responders when someone calls for assistance during a suicidal or homicidal threat. They are also usually the ones who admit a client to a hospital for psychiatric treatment. Hospital staff at that point become that individual’s treatment team. This is considered a short term treatment option. The goal is to stabilize certain symptoms and identify a “lower level of care” that can help the individual learn how to cope with their symptoms regularly and prevent emergency situations.

This spectrum of mental health is what makes finding the right fit with a therapist so important. Depending on the challenges you face, your background, the level of care needed, and many other factors one mental health professional may be more helpful than another. You walk on a unique mental health path, and must choose the right team to walk alongside you. Where are you on your mental health journey, and how can therapy be of assistance to you?

If you are in a crisis or emergency situation please contact the Access & Crisis Line at 1-888-724-7240 or call 9-1-1.

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6 Easy Ways to Cope with Holiday Stress

The holidays are suppose to be a time filled with joy, love, and cheer! Unfortunately that is not always the case. The holiday season (arguably the day after Halloween to the day after New Year’s) has become one of the most stressful times of year for individuals, couples, and families alike. That’s why it is so important to identify your coping skills (and exit strategies) before participating in all the holiday “cheer”.

holiday stress

Take a Deep Breath

Before you walk into those bustling malls, step into the front door of those relatives hosting dinner, or before any moment of stress…take a deep breath. Slowly breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, then release slowly through your mouth for 5 seconds. This slows down your heart rate and allows you to step into these spaces feeling calm and prepared for the moment.

Go for a Pre- or Post-Meal Walk

Those big meals can be delicious, but between the extravagant preparation, heated discussions at the table, and the amount of carbs consumed… a walk can be a good way to de-stress. Find your favorite relative and convince them to take a stroll. It’s a great way to quietly catch up with your family and take a break from the kitchen chaos.

Sit at the Kids Table

This may be more stressful for parents, but if your the fun aunt or uncle (or slightly older cousin) it can be a great way to avoid all the “so when are you going to [fill in the blank]?” questions from the adults. When you are anticipating painful conversations, why not save yourself the stress and catch up with the little ones, and learn about the new dances sweeping the nation.

Have Your Comeback Ready

You know all your family’s buttons. You know who is likely to ask those annoying questions or make those slick comments. Do your homework ahead of time and make mental note of all the reasons they shouldn’t be talking. If you aren’t one for comebacks, try some “I statements” at the table. For example: I feel [frustrated, attacked, annoyed, etc.] when I’m asked about [my love life, school, work, etc.] because [it is a private matter, I don’t want to discuss stressful topics, I want to enjoy my dinner, etc.], so please refrain from prying anymore.

Choose to Not Participate

Just because you are invited to events does not mean you have to attend every one. Between festive outings, holiday parties, and family dinners, the holidays can be overwhelming. Choose to attend the events where you will feel most at home, whether that is a friends-giving or a crazy sweater party with your favorite cousins. Choosing to travel on your own or stay close to home are all options that can help replenish your soul for the new year. Figure out what works for you!

Start Your Own Traditions

Last, but not least…create new traditions that are aligned with your own personal values and beliefs. The holidays are about resetting and realigning with those things that drive you everyday. Take some time out for yourself to identify your values and what new traditions you would like to establish to put those on display.

close up of two flute glasses filled with sparkling wine wuth ribbons and christmas decor

All this to say, I hope your holiday season is one filled with peace, love, and happiness in whatever form that finds you. May you find support from those around you and calm in your moments alone. If you are in crisis please reach out to the Access & Crisis Line at 1-888-724-7240 or text “HOME” to 741741.

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8 Books that Could Change Your Life: Lee’s List of Literature

I was asked not to long ago about books I would recommend to those looking for inspiration or a way to incorporate something therapeutic into their lives. So I thought about books I have read that were influential to me, as well as a few I want to read because they were influential to people I know. I tagged amazon links to purchase all these books (I am in no way being compensated for recommending or sharing these links), but I highly recommend checking out your local library to get these reads for free-ninety-nine instead. So here it is…Lee’s List of Literature.

8 books

Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly

Brene Brown is the queen of empathy and gratitude (in my eyes) and that is what makes this book so important. The discussion about vulnerability is an important one to have if you are pushing to “find the new you” or simply want to be more in touch with yourself. Brown’s research has been instrumental in understanding people, and you will find this book to be instrumental in understanding yourself.

Michelle Obama’s Becoming

It took me longer than most to grab a copy of this book, but it was well worth the wait. Few autobiographies grab my attention, but former First Lady Michelle Obama’s story is one that is as inspiring as it is entertaining. I suggest reading this book as a way to reflect on your own life and dream of the possibilities that your life has to offer.

Shonda Rhime’s Year of Yes

Though I have not read it personally, I have heard great things about Rhime’s story telling abilities in this “self-help-esque ” book. Another story that evokes reflection on how you may be overlooking great opportunities for all the wrong reasons.

Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey

This book of poems is unique in all the right ways. I enjoyed reading this book with my husband and discussing our varied perceptions of the stories told. Though it can be hard to read due to some graphic descriptions, I highly recommend this quick and daring book of poetry.

Charlemagne Tha God’s Shook One

A lot of these books are lady-centered, but I wanted to throw in one with a little more male perspective. Charlemagne may not be for everyone, but I appreciate his honesty and work in reducing the stigma around mental health and therapy. This honest look at how anxiety affected his life is a great read for those hoping to feel less alone on their mental health journey.

Debrena Gandy’s Sacred Pampering Principles

This is an oldie, but a goodie. Gandy’s take on self care for African-American women was as important in ’98 as it is in 2019. She takes a holistic approach on self care that will make you want to #TreatYoSelf. If you are looking for a reminder on why and how to take care of yourself, this will become your go to read.

Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

My mother gave this book to me in college and it was such a powerful story. Reading about the trials and tribulations that Dr. Angelou went through to become the magnificent woman she was is incredible. For a look into the real life of a legend pick up this read.

Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass

The title alone makes this one of my favorites. I am all about empowering yourself and if this book can’t inspire you to believe that you are all that and a bag of chips, I don’t know what will.

Reading an inspiring story along with your therapeutic journey can be quite enlightening. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I and those around me have!

Are You Eating Your Feelings?: Foods Impact on Your Mood

I am a big proponent of holistic wellness, basically meaning I believe it is important to take care of your mind, body, and spirit. I believe in this idea because it is relatively impossible to take care of just one of these things at a time.

Nearly anything you do to take care of one of these aspects is going to also influence another. For example, if you are going to therapy to better your mind, there is a good chance you will leave also more in tune with your spirit. Or if you start eating better to take care of your body, there is a good chance it will also boost your mood. Now this is the interconnection I want to focus on.

green round fruit on clear glass mug with water

Feeding your body also feeds your mind. I am no nutritionist by the way, but I highly recommend seeing one [remember I am not a medical professional so this information is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional medical advice]. Different foods impact your body & mind in different ways. General rule of thumb is though, if it is good for your body, it is also good for your mind. As a reminder, chips, candy, and soda are not good for your body…so they are also not good for your mind.

Food is a part of all our daily lives whether we are vegan or the T-Rex version of a human being. So we should stay aware of the fuel we are putting into our bodies because not all fuel is equal. Many foods have affects on our brain that we don’t recognize or connect. The neurotransmitter, Serotonin (aka the thing in our brain that controls our level of happiness and well-being) is affected by certain foods. Particularly, it is fueled by traditionally healthy foods. Think fruits, veggies, and natural, unprocessed foods. The more of these traditional healthy foods we consume, the easier it is for us to feel well and happy.

On the other hand, when we eat highly processed (what I call “fake”) food, it does not fuel our brain and body in the same way that unprocessed, natural foods do. Think of it this way…your body is a fine tuned machine, like a BMW. You don’t just fuel up a beamer with regular, old, unleaded gas. You put the highest quality premium gasoline in that baby to keep it running in tip, top shape. That is the mindset you should use to fuel your body! Only the best and healthiest foods should be consumed.

adult cutting daylight facial expression

Now just like food can influence your mood. Your mood can influence the food you choose to eat. Studies have shown that when people feel sad, depressed, anxious, nervous, or other negative emotions, we often eat more sugary, processed foods. With this back and forth relationship between food and your mood, it can cause you to get in an unhealthy cycle of feeding your body things that will keep you in a negative mood. When you are feeling down or low energy it is important to recognize this, so you can fuel yourself in a way that will jump-start your energy. Identifying the healthy snacks that you actually enjoy and keeping those on hand can mean the difference between a jump-start and  break down.

Ultimately, your mind is a unique component of your body, which means anything that is good for your body is most likely going to benefit your mind. Talk to your doctor about how your diet may be impacting your mood, and consult your therapist if you feel your diet may be impacting your mental health. Collaboration between professionals is an important part of holistic health, and you are the one holding these all together!

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