Carmen has thrived as a business owner supported by the Soultenders network and she has played an elemental role in helping Soultenders thrive in return. In August of 2022, Conversations with Carmen evolved from a written series to a video format, with Carmen taking on the role of host in our monthly installments. Carmen has been integral in bringing providers together and an active member in nurturing our Soultenders community. She embodies a Soultenders principle; that, in her words, “life is a journey, but you don’t have to travel it alone.”
This month, she will talk about what motivates our providers personally and professionally, their values, and the role of community in their lives.
I am a Southern California native. I consider both West Los Angeles and Conejo Valley to be my original stomping grounds.
Until the age of 15, I assumed that I would attend law school after obtaining my Bachelors degree. Justice, fairness and the cause of equality had always been on my radar. However, during my sophomore year in high school, something shifted internally. I experienced a “knowing” that I wanted to become a counselor. Showing up as a listening ear for my peers brought me great satisfaction. And even though I was a teenager myself, with many of the same age-related challenges, I recognized that helping people was a part of me.
After graduating high school at the age of 17, I earned my Bachelors degree in Psychology at the University of Southern California. Subsequently, I obtained my Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola Marymount University, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. After obtaining my Masters degree, I intentionally took some time off from school and decided to focus 100% on working and cultivating my professional craft. And after working in the mental health field for two consecutive years, I decided to circle back to school, and pursue and obtain my Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. The ultimate accomplishment was becoming licensed as a LMFT in 2003.
During my 20+ years in the Mental Health field, I have had opportunities to work in various facets of client care. I have been fortunate enough to provide therapeutic service in both direct clinical care and administrative capacities. I have previously worked with such client populations as children and adults with developmental disabilities, including Autism and other neurodivergent differences, foster care youth and families, adolescents involved with the juvenile justice system, as well as adults seeking reintegration into the daily operations of society, subsequent to substance abuse rehabilitation and incarceration.
Throughout my career, I have been very fortunate to explore a variety of professional roles such as: Clinical/Family Therapist, Foster Care/County Social Worker, Case Manager, Program Manager, Senior Director of Mental Health Services (program oversight for Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Intake), Clinical Supervisor, Clinical Training Coordinator, as well as EAP Consultant. Additionally, I created and launched the first Wraparound Program for a non-profit organization that continues to be a staple in the L.A. County area. I also co-authored the STRTP (Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program) statement for the same organization, which helped to secure an expansive, far-reaching client services contract.
In addition to facilitating provider trainings and presentations on the aforementioned STRTP model, I previously taught Psychology 101 and Theories of Personality courses at the undergraduate level.
The idea of pursuing a private practice surfaced in 2006 after meeting with my esteemed colleague, Dr. Wendy Selevitch, for the first time. I was fortunate to have been extended the opportunity to join Soultenders as Wendy’s first independent contractor and practice owner!
As it turned out, my professional journey led me back to full-time work for the next several years. During those years, I grew exponentially as a clinician and as a professional. And then, fast forward to 2019, I experienced another ‘knowing’; that it was time to circle back to my goal of cultivating a thriving, sustainable private practice. With that said, Soultenders welcomed me back with arms wide open in September 2019. Since then, I’ve built a successful client practice that continues to grow and thrive.
At this point in my career, I identify myself as a Psychotherapist/practice owner, Podcaster (“Conversations with Carmen”) as well as a novice Immigration Mental Health Evaluation Specialist, becoming more knowledgeable every day.
“Showing up” is the biggest gift and act of service that I can extend to a client, a peer or another person in need. I stay open and receptive to ways in which I can continue to accomplish this.
I am a firm believer in the healing nature of conversation. I consistently offer my clients unique perspectives that rest upon keen understanding, mindful awareness as well as thoughtful consideration.
One of my greatest passions is supporting people who want to pivot/shift in a meaningful way, release personal trauma, heal emotional injury, navigate their (internal and external) experiences differently as well as “show up” in the world as powerfully and uniquely expressive as they can imagine.
I am professionally driven by an earnest and intentional conviction to assist others with evolving into the best version of themselves- whatever that means or looks like to the individual. Additionally, a robust educational and training background combined with invaluable life experience are two other factors that provide me with limitless momentum to meet clients along their individual journey.
Personally speaking, I am driven by my two daughters. Once upon a time, I never imagined that I would become a mom. But, as my life continued to evolve and I pressed forward with my personal growth and development, I experienced an intense “knowing” that parenting another human being (twins as fate would have it!) was an important facet of my walk in life. My daughters are the heart and soul of everything that I do and seek to accomplish. I would not be the person who I am today without them to inspire, humble, challenge and love me.