Trainees are advanced level graduate students in the Integral Counseling Psychology (ICP) program at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).
My goal is to create a safe, warm, and nurturing space in which you feel comfortable exploring your deeper self. I hope that you can begin to feel supported and connected as we do this meaningful work together. I use a holistic approach, and so at different times, we may address your concerns on multiple levels, including the mind, body, and spirit.
I am passionate about self-growth and believe in the power of human potential. As a Registered Nurse that has worked in community health, I have 10 years of experience working with chronic illness, mental health, substance abuse, and medication management. I have learned that emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual blocks can have a great impact on overall health. My hope is that together we can address these issues so that you can enjoy your life and achieve your personal goals.
I enjoy working with individuals, couples, and families on a variety of issues, including: anxiety, depression, relationship concerns, substance abuse and behavioral addictions, trauma, grief, chronic illness, stress, and life transitions.
Joanna Kate Gardner
I believe every person has access to intuitive knowledge which can help point direction toward their own path of healing. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, we might lose connection, even trust, with our own gut instincts. I see my role of a therapist as a supportive guide helping clients get back in touch with their true essence.
French composer Claude Debussy once said “Music is the silence between the notes.” In therapy, I believe healing happens in the silence between words. It is the felt sense of self, the warm connection with the therapist, and the integration of “all that is” which are perhaps most healing of all.
Penélope Mato Vilar
My work is based on relational, somatic and integral approaches that offer a space to explore and to go deeper into the different levels of the self including body, mind, heart, spirit and the context which the individual is experiencing.
I am fully bilingual in English and Spanish and I have experience in cultural and immigration issues as well as trauma.
Sometimes—or maybe always—living our life seems so difficult, especially when it appears that others are having an easier time. The challenge may show up as:
- Inexplicable loneliness or fearful anxiety.
- Maybe we believe “we are wrong” or that “we have been wronged.”
- Our relationships may have more upsets and conflicts, than friendship and caring.
- Perhaps our emotions seem to be working against us rather than for us.
- Or, one area of our life is rewarding, like work, but the success does not carry over into another, like personal relationships.
As you cope with such conditions, is there a lack of helpful resources supporting you in living the life you want? I focus on the power of relationship to heal. However, wounds from detrimental relationships can also be the cause of the problems with which we grapple. Our sessions will be guided by your intentions. We will work together to understand how to create the change you seek and practice the behavior that causes transformation to happen.
In my work I practice listening intently and relating authentically; and in that way, I promote your developing resilience. I am drawn to facilitating personal growth. The therapy is influenced by my life experience and by over ten years of my own personal therapy. In my personal therapy I have worked through issues as they have arisen in my life. I trust that process and my therapist to provide a safe environment when I am in a state of “not knowing” and uncertainty. As a therapist I attempt to facilitate a similar experience for my clients.
I am guided by and continue to study relational psychotherapy, attachment theory, transpersonal theory, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Gottman couples therapy. I look forward to working with you individually or as a couple.
We all have been through difficult situations in our lives. In our work together we cannot change the tragic events that happened to you, but we can change the negative effects on your body and mind. I believe that the most meaningful gift that therapy brings us is a choice. Can we act from a place of awareness? Or do we act from our rigid unconscious tendencies? Can we make a warm and friendly connection with our inner child? And can we see how this little one drives us in our adult life?
I work somatically. We will pay attention to your body sensations in the present moment. We will bring what is in the there and then to the here and now. Our body has so much wisdom and can tell us what we do not know cognitively. Eventually we will bring this body awareness to your daily life, and will be able to navigate them from your true authentic self.
In my own journey in mindfulness and body awareness practices, it was always clear to me that body centered psychotherapy is my path. Although traditional “talk” therapy is beneficial, I believe that narrative expression and insight are not enough. In our work together you will have the chance to experience a “felt sense” of what it means to have a new experience.
I bring in the practice Hakomi (mindfulness psychotherapy), transpersonal psychotherapy, mindful self compassion and Gestalt. My main passion is to work with trauma, anxiety, individuals and couples.
“Even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by doing so, change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph” -Viktor Frankl
I welcome you to learn more about me on my website: www.BayAreaAffordableTherapy.
Loneliness, confusion, emotional overwhelm, or questions around one’s purpose are all normal experiences that challenge most of us at points in life. Whether seeking help with relationships, addiction, depression or anxiety, abuse, grief or life adjustments, my work supports your journey with compassion, patience, and an enduring trust in the process.
I trust your psyche’s inner healing intelligence to guide and inform our work, and together we will gently explore ways of accessing the parts of you that wish to effect meaningful change. This process can ask of us patience, willingness, and vulnerability. My commitment to authentic communication and a steady openness to your feedback serves to sustain and fortify this effort.
Some of what we may explore includes mindfulness, emotions, somatic experience, deep imagination, sensory awareness, dreams, “parts” of the self, and story/personal myth. We may use these tools to work through in-the-moment distress or to identify threads of intergenerational/ancestral knowing, culture, spirituality, and creativity.
I work with adults, couples, children, and elders from a full range of ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, identities and walks of life. I am here to support you at your own pace, and to do so with warmth, dignity, and respect. I look forward to connecting with you!
Within our therapeutic relationship, we work together to approach, explore and authentically relate with all aspects of your life. As these various aspects come into focus, we work with them together moment-to-moment. As these aspects reveal themselves from past and present, conscious and unconscious, joy and challenges, I assist you by witnessing non-judgmentally with compassion and authentic interest, mirroring your strengths and accompanying disavowed pieces to find what they need. Together we build your positive internal scaffolding so challenging elements of life can fall away when ready.
Throughout our time together, I attend to your relationship with elements of your life that no longer serve you: patterns, survival skills, coping mechanisms, habits that were once purposeful but now create dissonance. By looking for their original purpose, acknowledging them, we can honor and release them when ready, replacing them with self-compassion.
I enjoy working with people of all ages and needs. I especially see growth opportunities during transitions, particularly for young adults facing the realities of this day and age, new parents, and those ready to work in a deep holistic way through body, mind and spirit.
Take a minute to just notice how you are feeling right now. How are you emotionally? How does your body feel? Are you thinking about something? Whatever is there is ok, just take a moment to listen to yourself.
As simple as it may sound, sometimes feeling our feelings can be hard work. Truly understanding and being honest with authentic selves can be challenging and sometimes scary. No one should have to do this alone. Together, we can deeply listen and nurture your authentic self to help you heal and grow.
My belief is everything is interconnected. When we hurt in one area of our lives, often times the other areas hurt with it. I believe that each person functions in 3 parts: mind, body and spirit. Because of this, I work in three parts: relationally, somatically, and transpersonally. I also work with an overarching Buddhist influence in working with emotional and physical awareness, and being present in the here and now.
I am passionate about working with (but not limited to):
- Individuals, couples, families, children
- Trauma and PTSD
- Sexual, physical and emotional abuse
- Relationships issues and attachment
- Depression, anxiety, stress
- People of Color and diversity
- LGBTQQI community
- Exploring dreams, and spiritual experiences
Paradoxical as it may sound, suffering is good for you. Suffering, when experienced consciously, can help you penetrate through your unconscious self-images and defense system, which have prevented you from experiencing genuine joy, satisfaction, and realness in your life.
I will help you develop deeper inner awareness and provide you a safe holding space, in which you can reflect and explore your current problems and, more importantly, undigested issues from early childhood and young adulthood.
I work somatically, which means, as you explore your difficulty (as well as your joy), I will help you get in touch with your moment-by-moment felt experience in your body-mind — sensations, emotions, thoughts, memories and beliefs.
As your familiarity of your inner experience increases, you will become more in touch with your true, authentic self — the self that is characterized with such qualities as groundedness, strength, clarity, curiosity, openness, caring and connectedness to others and to yourself, and genuine joy.
I will also teach you various whole body awareness exercises that you can practice daily at home and at work. These exercises are designed for busy urban life, and can be as short as a duration of one breath.
I use Diamond Approach, Hakomi Method, Focusing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family System, Coherence Therapy and Rosen Method. I practice Tibetan yoga and meditation.
I received a Ph.D. in economics from UC Berkeley, was an investment banker, a high-tech entrepreneur and a graduate school professor. (That was a long time ago.)