It’s great to meet you! My name is Michelle Solangel Martínez. I am a licensed mental health counselor associate working under the supervision of Dr. Susan Hall.
Education and Training
I have 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 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 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. In sessions, I expect clients to push back or disagree with me at times. There will probably be times you are even angry with me. Our relationship will not be perfect. That is the work of healing. Things I refer to or say may trigger deep emotions and that’s what we’re here to explore together. I do this work with all the best intentions and appreciate when we can successfully navigate ruptures, but I also understand that sometimes you may feel your best decision is to end the therapeutic relationship. I respect anyone’s wish to do that and will provide referrals to other providers I trust, if requested.
A Little More Detail
I identify as a queer, mixed-race Latinx genderfluid femme on the asexual spectrum (gray). My romantic preference is in other femme-types for the most part. My pronouns are they/them, but fluctuate at times between she and he as well. I believe I am autistic, though do not have a formal diagnosis. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks all my life, as well as bouts of depression and suicidality. My experiences with being labeled “too sensitive” are what have led me to want to work with people who may have experienced similar in their lives.
My father is from Venezuela and comes from Indigenous, Spanish/Mediterranean, and Afro-Caribbean roots. My mother is from the United States and comes from 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. I eventually went to community college in Portland, OR and fell back in love with learning (especially social sciences).
Later, at age 27, obtained a B.A. at University of Washington in Comparative History of Ideas, all the while still working in Information Tech. Technology work 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 and knew something else was calling me. I am so grateful to have had access to higher education to now be able to do work that feels deeply valuable. I still work full-time in IT as I nurture my growing counseling practice, which is why you’ll only see me on evenings and weekends. 🙂