The following is an interview with me about my decision to specialize in working with teenagers. – Sandra
1. What inspired you to work with teens?
I specialize in supporting shy, sensitive and highly intelligent teens from diverse multi-cultural families. My personal teen journey has been about learning how to be assertive, handle mean girls, talk to my parents and discover my authentic self-expression. It would have liked to have someone that could have assisted me with this process, and thus decided to provide this service to teenagers.
2. Why did you choose the field of psychology?
I have been fascinated with psychology since my first course in high school. My journey has involved numerous role models and teachers who contributed to my understanding of myself and the human psyche. For the past decade, I have been honored to learn from the honesty and insight of the teens and parents that I work with.
3. Who supported your decision to become a therapist?
There was one social worker in particular who inspired me to embark on making my dream of being a therapist reality. The inner peace she exuded was what I wanted to experience when I went to work each day. Facilitating healthy relationships within families, on a daily basis, is an effective way to consciously practice this goal.
4. How do you feel about what you do?
There is something very precious about seeing parents and children heal their relationships with each other. When teens learn to love, appreciate and accept themselves, they become able to pass this on to the next generation–through being a conscious and respectful parents.
5. What motivates you about your job?
I care deeply about the clients I see, and look forward each new week to finding out the progress they have made towards their goals. I also get to meet wonderful therapists and health care providers in seminars and conferences. Then there is the creative aspect of writing articles and books, creating teen support group trainings, and staying on top of the latest information in my field.
6. Was there ever a time you couldn’t help a family or child?
Sometimes there are co-occurring undiagnosed disorders that complicate treatment, and need to be addressed (like substance abuse, learning disorders, child abuse and neuro-chemical imbalances, to name a few). Sometimes a referral for educational testing may be required. Sometimes medication will be indicated. Occasionally, a referral for the parent’s own emotional support can be helpful. Now and then, a therapist is simply not a good fit for a particular family.
7. What classes prepared you for being a Teen Therapist?
My undergraduate work was in psycho-biology. My graduate work was in clinical psychology with child specialization studies. My coursework included:
- Family Systems
- Child Advocacy and Social Policy
- Treating Adolescents: Coping with Emerging Identity
- Parental Support and Participation in Child Therapy
- Adolescent Development
- Treatment of Diverse Clients
- Cross-Cultural Infant Observation
I went on to do advanced work in:
- Respectful Parent Training (RIE)
- Working Effectively with Resistant and Burned-Out Parents
- Child Custody Mediation Training
- Attachment Theory
8. Do you have words of advice for somebody that wants to do this work?
Spend time getting to know yourself well, and integrate that information into your life. Heal your relationships with your parents, siblings and friends. Learn to accept what you might judge as flaws or weaknesses within yourself. And then discover everything you can about effective parenting, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, the adolescent brain, attachment theory and cultures different than yours.
… EMPOWERING TEENS TO BE THEIR BEST SELVES.
“The best example of Sandra’s work is in my daughter’s renewed enthusiasm and attitude towards life. My daughter now sees every problem as one that can be solved, every uncomfortable experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Sandra’s work with my daughter has helped her become a more secure, confident and happy individual.”
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Providing service for: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock Park, West Hollywood.