Meet Jennifer Gonzalez, LMFT
A note from Thrive's founder, Dr. Erica Wollerman:
Welcome to our latest blog series! Since I am often the one writing our Thrive blogs, I wanted to make sure that our readers would be able to also get to know the amazing team I work with at Thrive. I am so grateful to work with each of these therapists and they each offer our clients something special. Since we have a team of 6, we will be sharing these blogs over the coming summer weeks!
Tell us about you and why you wanted to become a therapist.
I was about ten years old when I figured out what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” I consider myself very lucky as I understand that not everyone has this luxury. From a very early age I realized that I wanted to help people make a difference in their lives. My journey began when I volunteered my little brother’s first grade class, this experience gave me the opportunity to witness some of the struggles that children face in and outside of the classroom.
What do you love about being a therapist?
It is my life’s passion and I can say with great certainty that I could not possibly imagine doing anything else! There is no better satisfaction than being part of an individual’s personal growth. I enjoy being people’s support system and advocate to help those people that many times are struggling to help themselves. My favorite part of being a clinician is witnessing first-hand the progress that a person can make with a little assistance and encouragement.
How would you describe yourself as a therapist?
Client-centered! I believe that my clients are the experts on their own lives, and it is my job to learn about them from them and meet them where they are. I am empathetic, humorous, a story teller, warm and non-judgmental. I see my approach as a collaborative effort and take the time to work on building and nurturing trusting therapeutic relationships with my clients.
Who do you love working with in therapy?
I enjoy working with school-age children, adolescents, adults and families. Although my passion began with my work with children, through my education and experience I learned to love and appreciate every stage of a human’s development. As a systemic thinker, I promote and advocate for family therapy whenever possible and appropriate. I believe that there is a lot of power to change, adapt or adjust to a situation when more members of a family are involved in treatment. My areas of focus include but not limited to depression, anxiety, academic and school-related struggles, attention deficit/hyperactivity, oppositional-defiance, grief and loss, self-harm, parenting, relationship and identity related issues.
Do you have a particular theory or framework that guides your work as a therapist? If so, describe it and tell us why you use that.
I have been trained in multiple approaches such as Solution-Focused Therapy, Structural Family Therapy, Brief Strategic Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. My philosophy is that the approach should be good fit for the client not the other way around.
Share one thing you are passionate about in your professional or personal life.
A professional goal I set myself post licensure was to become a clinical supervisor. I enjoy being a teacher and leader; becoming a clinical supervisor will give me the opportunity to help others grow professionally and help create the next generation of therapists. This goal will become a reality this year!
My personal passion is traveling! Culture and diversity never seize to amaze me. Although culture shock can be scary and intimidating, I find it fascinating. My goal is to visit all continents. At the end of this year, I will have visited 18 countries in 5 continents. My travels provide me the opportunity to learn about different, backgrounds, idiosyncrasies, traditions, customs and beliefs which I often incorporate into my treatment.
For more information about Jennifer and her work, please check out her bio here! If you would like to schedule an appointment with Jennifer, please also feel free to call our main number and ask for her or fill out our contact form here and note that you would prefer to work with Jennifer!
By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
January 1st was a very big day for us at Thrive, and really for me in particular as the founder of Thrive Therapy Studio. You see, this is the day that we celebrated our first year anniversary of being a group therapy practice! Not only have we celebrated our first year of being a group practice, but we have also been able to expand our team of clinicians and services offered over the past year. While reflecting on the year, I feel so proud of the work we do, families we work with, and overarching values of our growing company!
At Thrive, we offer a different approach to psychotherapy in the sense that our clinical team focuses heavily on the relationships we develop with our clients. We all have different approaches to working with our clients, but this very relational, client-centered, and collaborative approach remains the same with any Thrive Team Member. This is one of the most important factors that has gone into choosing clinicians to join us at Thrive as I truly believe that therapy works best when we are collaborating with our clients and building a bridge with them to their goals. We believe in building people up so that they can learn to change things themselves with our support rather than a top down more clinical approach.
Since we have many different therapists to choose from, I feel confident in knowing that we can truly serve our community in so many different ways and that most people seeking therapy will feel that one of us will be a good fit for helping and supporting them. We offer individual therapy for children as young as 3 up through adulthood. We also are offering parent consultation services, either in conjunction with individual therapy for a child or teen or as a separate service to support parents. Special areas of interest and specialty for us as a whole includes the following: Autism, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Issues, Anxiety, Depression, and Adjustment Issues. All of us are well versed in working with children, teens, and adults with a myriad of challenges.
We have even started offering all of our services in Spanish as well due to our lovely bilingual clinician, Jennifer Gonzalez, LMFT. Jennifer is wonderful in working with shame around parenting and increasing communication in parent-child relationships (check out her bio here!).
Dr. Maria Fowlks specializes in working with teens who are going through the pangs of adolescence and need a supportive space. Check out her bio here!
Angela Bianco, ASW, is skilled in working with individuals who are feeling stuck, frustrated, or bored with current parenting strategies. Check out her bio here!
And I, Dr. Erica Wollerman love working with individuals of any age who identify as perfectionists! Check out my bio here!
As I mentioned before, I am so proud of how far Thrive has come in one year and so excited to think of how many more people we can support in the coming years! To stay in the loop on our services offered and to receive updated information about Thrive, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter through the following link: http://eepurl.com/cvGx5n.
If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself for adult psychotherapy, your child, or teen attending therapy with one of us, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
We at Thrive thought it would be fun to share a joint blog from our team of therapists where we each share one of our favorite parenting tips. Since we all have different perspectives, this is a great way to get to know each of us as a therapist. Hope you like it and find our ideas helpful!
Lindsey Brady, LMFT - How to support your child through tough feelings
In practice, I often work with children who experience difficulty with self-regulation, anger, and tantrum behaviors. A big part of what I do is help parents to understand developmental levels and how to support their kids through the “tough stuff.” Often, as parents, we expect our children to be respectful and behave appropriately and it’s easy to forget that kids often don’t understand or know how to manage their emotions. It’s important to teach children that ALL feelings are okay, even the ones that seem socially unacceptable, like anger or jealousy, and that all feelings pass with time. Encourage your kids to do something with their feelings if they need to. Invite them to be still or to share, cry, or communicate. If a child is unable to regulate and engages in inappropriate behaviors, parents can lovingly disengage and remind themselves that the behavior is not a reflection of their parenting or their child’s lack of respect, but more a lack of skill in dealing with the emotion or situation. Stepping back in the moment and addressing it when everyone is calm enables the child to be in an emotional space to learn and allows the parent space to explain and correct in a calm and loving way.
Maria Fowlks, PsyD - Validate your child’s feelings
Validating your child’s emotions helps them feel heard and understood, and it lets them know their feelings matter. When you do this, you are sending the message you love and accept them regardless of how they think and feel. It is important to honor and validate the big and small things, because what may seem small to you is likely very big to them. It shows them you care and think their feelings are important. It teaches them that ALL feelings are valid.
Jennifer Gonzalez, LMFT - Provide your child with options
I am almost sure that you have heard “children like to have options” before. I agree with this statement completely. Children and adolescents like to feel like they are in control and hold power, and who doesn’t?
Well, I would like to offer you an extension of that. Giorgio Nardone creator of Brief Strategic Therapy designed an intervention called “illusion of alternatives” which is exactly what it says; it gives the illusion that the person has an alternative. This intervention is a real elegant way in which you offer the possibility of a option: The first option is very frightening and almost impossible for the person to complete and the second option is one that is less threatening and easier to put into practice.
Translating this into child and adolescent terms: the first option should be one that is boring, tedious, and annoying to them. The second option (the one that you really want them to choose) should be doable, easy and in many ways more appealing. For example you may say: “Would you rather vacuum the entire house or take out the trash?” or for adolescents “Would you rather do the dishes and put them away or vacuum the living room.”
Angela Bianco, ASW - Helping parents shift from being reactive to proactive in parenting
Taking time to reflect on your parenting and interactions with your child is crucial in learning to shift from being reactive to proactive in parenting. Unfortunately, because our lives are so busy, parents are more likely to operate from a reactive state of mind instead of working from a clear set of principles and strategies. Instead of just reacting, try asking yourself the following questions: Why did he act this way? What's the lesson? How can I best teach it? Use these questions and your overarching parenting principles you want to use to guide your parenting as a guide for how to intervene and teach your child.
Erica Wollerman, PsyD – Knowing when to let your kid fail
As many of you who read the Thrive blog know, I am passionate in my belief that as parents, one of the best things we can do is to allow your child to fail at times. I believe strongly in the importance of teaching kids that failure is okay because it means you are trying new things and leaving your comfort zone. The other great thing about allowing your kids to fail is that you can then coach them through the failure. Teaching them how to fix things after mistakes, how to manage their feelings about the failure, and that it is okay to fall down only helps build grit and resiliency in all of us. As parents, this is a great gift you can give your children that will help them be more successful and resourceful in the future!
We hope you enjoyed our first group blog! There will hopefully be many more to come in the future so that we can continue sharing our many different experiences and thoughts with you!
If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy with one of us, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
If you would like to receive updated information about Thrive Therapy, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter through the following link: http://eepurl.com/cvGx5n.
Blogs from the Thrive Family!
Musings from Erica, Jennifer, Maria, Kim, Andrea, Molly, Abbey, and Ying-Ying
Call Today! 858-342-1304
Thrive Therapy Studio
5230 Carroll Canyon Rd. Ste 110
San Diego, CA 92121
"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."