As a therapist, the population I work with are people who have experienced so much trauma. They are here in the U.S. alone after escaping their country because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. They are persecuted and looking for asylum here—a lot of my clients are trying to survive.
If I don’t have a good relationship with my client, I won’t be able to help them even if I have all the book knowledge. I tell them, “I’m like a light in this mine, and I show you this path and that path.” The strength lies within the clients.
The pandemic has had its challenges. My clients are very poor—only 1 in 9 have a computer screen or a smartphone with a camera. It’s been hard doing our sessions on the phone and not seeing them. Many lost their jobs because of the pandemic, and they are undocumented so they don’t get the stimulus check. They don’t get any assistance and now they have enormous debt. It’s devastating when you can hear their children crying from hunger.
But my clients are very resilient. One had been a victim of human trafficking and, as a result, had severe PTSD and agoraphobia. She couldn’t even dress as a woman because of her fear and its association with being raped. Today she has two jobs and stable housing. She is finishing her studies to be able to go to college, she’s learning English, she has started socializing, and she has friends. She’s a beautiful butterfly who is starting to fly.
I have so many clients like her. To me, my clients are like butterflies.
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
Year Started Working at the Center: 2016
Staff Position: Mental Health Clinician at STOP Violence Program