My name is Patricia Johnson, and I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, under the direct supervision of Nahomie Guillaume LMFT. I have come to this path and passion via many years in finance and real estate, where I worked diligently and passionately to negotiate and advocate on behalf of clients. Our company created effective strategies in order to avoid foreclosure, satisfy the lender, and allow my clients a respite and a solution, albeit a highly emotionally difficult one. It was by working with the awful decision to walk away from their homes that I saw how one managed grief and loss. This was during the Great Recession, when thousands of people were living with under-water mortgages and very little was known about short sales.
As a company we became trusted advisors to our many clients as they walked through this difficult decision. A close bond was formed, and this allowed clients the comfort of sharing their life story, which sadly often included some form of trauma, long held and almost always kept secret. Many expressed that this was the first time they had disclosed their highly personal experiences and having done so made them feel both relieved and more at peace. Yet I saw that due to cultural influences or just lack of information, my clients had no means of gaining awareness or help in processing the ensuing emotions and dysfunctional interrelationships which resulted from past life issues and traumas. It was at this point that I was compelled to return to school, in my young mid-fifties. I double majored in crisis intervention and life coaching, with a cognate in Christian counseling, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Liberty University. I then continued to Graduate school, Alliant International University, and received a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
I hold certificates in CBT trauma for children and adults, have worked with domestic violence groups, as well as participated in parenting groups and helped lead emotionally focused groups for children ages 5 to 12. I have also counseled couples through issues of trust, dysfunction, and infidelity. In the coming months I look to complete certificate programs in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR, a trauma/PTSD focused protocol), geriatric populations and their unique issues and challenges, as well as refine my trauma skills by continuing in trauma focused interventions through CBT as well as art therapy.
I want to stress that a client is the expert in their own life. It is their timing, their path, and their willingness to move forward and enact change that is the greatest motivating factor for achieving growth. My role serves a client by helping them uncover new strengths as they move away from dysfunction and maladjusted modes of thinking. Helping uncover themes and patterns, through tools such as genograms, art, journaling, etc., allow a client the ability to reach untapped, ignored, or overlooked patterns of behavior which either impedes or enhances their life. I work through various therapeutic theories and interventions, as it would be arrogant of me to just stick to one mode of therapy when it is the client who dictates their own process. Consequently, I use interventions from Emotionally Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Brief Strategic Therapy to name a few. I have worked with families, individuals, couples, school-aged children, K-12, groups, LGBTQ+, as well as clients whose culture is different from my own. This has allowed me the privilege of coming alongside my clients in a productive and fruitful manner.
I believe life is about relationship, and it is about living an awake, authentic, and honest existence. I believe we can achieve a life of meaning when we foster meaningful and engaged relationship with God and with others, be they family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. Just as importantly, it is also about the relationship we have with ourselves, how we view our inner being, and how our own sense of self impacts who we are in this world. I also recognize that our life points to a system, working or dysfunctional, which informs how we relate to ourselves and others. I especially value how all paths are different. My hope for my therapeutic work comes from the belief that we were all created for an individual and unique purpose, and then life’s difficulties and challenges often serve to derail us from our God-given path. Many of us have walked and lived under a maladjusted system, often to our own detriment and the detriment of those closest to us.
My work as a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate is to build an environment of trust and safety, listen actively while advocating for growth, awareness, and the improvement of life skills. I am also a Christian, which foundationally informs my therapeutic practice. In addition, I see much of my work through an attachment lens, as well as from a systems perspective, which points to how we were parented, how bonds were formed, or not, and the joy of a healthy relationship versus the grief and emotional wounds when poor attachments have taken place. It is often these poor interrelation skills which then seeps into how we view and treat ourselves and others.
I recognize the tremendous courage and vulnerability it takes for one to seek therapy and how culture and being from a marginalized society can impede one’s ability to seek/receive therapeutic intervention. I am Mexican, and I understand how culture can set the tone for our lives, both positively and negatively. Therefore, I want to help clients gain awareness, unpack and do away with past emotional wounding, as well as work through cultural dominant discourses, all with the goal of creating a life that is filled with wisdom, joy, and courage.
I find joy by walking along the waterfront, cooking a great meal, reading about a new subject, laughing, loudly and often, exercising, and daily quiet time with God, all productive and edifying activities. How do you find joy? I look forward to working with you!