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Therapist Spotlight: Ileana Gonzalez

What made you decide to become a counselor?

Well, I grew up in a community where mental health resources or even talking about mental health was incredibly rare. When I started college and had the opportunity to be a part of conversations related to mental health and be introduced to professions in the mental health field I was intrigued. After taking some time to inform myself of my options and allowing some time for my passion for this field to grow, I found that the counseling profession is what I wanted to do. As an individual who has benefited from incorporating/addressing mental health issues as a means of understanding myself I am a firm believer in the potential for positive impact counseling can have. As an individual I would like to continue to build awareness around mental health issues and as a counselor assist individuals at improving their overall quality of life through counseling.

If you could teach the world one skill or technique to improve their lives, what would it be?

I would like to teach the world how to have more self compassion.

Have you personally been in counseling and if so, what did you learn about yourself?

I've learned that responsibility and accountability is something that you owe yourself.

If you could recommend one book to all your clients, what would it be?

I would recommend "Attached" by Amir Levine M.D. and Rachel S. F. Heller M.S.

Who is your ideal client?​

A client who is conscious that change needs to be made and is ready to take steps to create change.

What inspires you to help others?

I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to recognize that they are worthy of love and belonging.

How do you personally practice self-care?​

I do my best to check in with myself on a weekly basis. If I find that I'm feeling less than neutral to start the day I know I need to take some time to focus on replenishing my energy. This can happen by taking some time to myself, taking a trip with friends, journaling, enjoying nature, or picking up a hobby. Sometimes it's just watching a new show for a few hours, that works too!

How do you relate to Mindfulness? How do you incorporate it in your sessions?

I like to bring mindfulness into session by using physical, verbal or cognitive tools related to self compassion. For example, bringing difficult emotions into session by referencing a difficult time in the clients life and re-issuing self compassion in place of guilt or shame. Then allowing the client to sit with this feeling and helping the client ground themselves using mindfulness throughout.

If you are hosting a dinner party, who are the 3 people you would invite and why?

I would invite my grandmother from my mom's side of the family who passed away when I was very young. My mom has always told me I'm a lot like her and I would like to have the opportunity to find out myself. I would like to invite Bob Marley. I think he would bring incredible energy to the space and I think I would learn a thing or two from him about mindfulness. I would lastly invite my mom. I think she would love the opportunity to talk with her mom again.

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