About Michelle

Qualifications

I am a licensed mental health counselor associate. My license number is MC60867786. My supervisor is Dr. Susan Hall. Her license number is LH00008920.

Education and Training

I hold a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado.  I chose the program for its rigor, its predominantly online learning model, and because it is a state school that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  I have previously worked in career counseling and mentoring, although a majority of my career has been in Information Technology.  I also have a M.S. in Anthrozoology (the study of human and non-human animal relationships) and have integrated Animal Assisted Therapy into my counseling work. I believe strongly in the healing that can come about through the trust, attachment, and bond between human and non-human animal.

Therapeutic Orientation & The Counseling Relationship

I hold strong intersectional feminist and social justice values and practice from this approach first and foremost.  This approach aligns with the way I live my life and, naturally by extension, how I operate in the counseling room.  I also practice from a LGBTQ Affirmative lens and am deeply mindful of how oppression can show up in the counseling room, which acts as a microcosm of the outside world.  In addition to digging into how our intersectional identities, oppressions, and privileges affect our daily well-being, I work with clients to look at deep existential issues and how the quality of attachment relationships in the past and present impact feelings of satisfaction and safety.  I am also interested in how our genes, neurology, and other biological realities integrate into the whole picture of who we are and I look toward treatments that consider this, when appropriate.

I approach the counseling relationship as an egalitarian alliance in which counselor and client work together and hold each other accountable for showing up, being real, and being present to each other’s humanity, all with a shared goal for the client that has been mutually agreed upon.  I can be directive, if that is what the client wants, but prefer collaboration.

A Little More Detail

I identify as a queer, mixed-race Latinx genderfluid femme person on the asexual spectrum (gray). My romantic preference is in other femme-types for the most part. In my professional life, I use she/her pronouns, but also am happy to go by they/them. He/Him pronouns are reserved for my private life and people who are close to me.  My father is from Venezuela and comes from Indigenous, Spanish/Mediterranean, and Afro-Caribbean roots.  My mother comes from a family with Irish, Scottish, and French roots. I am an atheist with some sense of the world as a “spiritual” place, but not in the way that most religions describe it. Some of the “mystic” traditions come close to describing my experience of the world. I am always open to what clients believe and embrace and honor what the universe means to them.

The women on my mother’s side are/were all counseling psychologists, but I came to this role from a roundabout way.  I’ve never been able to conform to what society wanted of me and so dropped out of high school at age 14 and got intensely interested in computers and the Internet. I started building websites and selling collectables online as my first means of making money for myself and to help my mom with the bills. When I was 16, I started a small computer consulting business teaching senior citizens how to use their computers. From there, I worked in Information Technology in a variety of settings for the next 20 years. I eventually went to community college in Portland, OR and fell back in love with learning (especially social sciences).

Later in life, at age 27, obtained a B.A. at University of Washington in Comparative History of Ideas, all the while still working in Information Tech. I.T. was something that brought in money, which enabled me to do the things that ignited my passions (like theater, dance, creative writing, and film, as well as lots of social justice activism).  However, as I got on in my career and dealt with toxic masculinity and toxic whiteness from the folks often in positions of power over me, I became more dissatisfied and disconnected (even downright traumatized) and that feeling began to leak into other areas of my life. My unhappiness impacted my ability to be artistically creative and to effectively advocate for social justice.  Finally, I hit a breaking point after dealing with a particularly difficult white woman director at my organization and I realized I had to derail the train and start from scratch. I went back for my second Master’s and here I am today. I am so grateful to have had access to higher education to now be able to do work that feels deeply valuable.

Now, my “job” is a huge part of my Life’s Work in a very meaningful way. I am also working on launching a non-profit that raises funds for womxn/NB folks of color to access wellness services such as mental health therapy, massage therapy, and more at deeply discounted rates or, at times, at no cost to them. Please visit Therapeutic Reparations for more information as that develops.