Kaitlyn Valdez has been an integral part of the Embrace Strength team for almost three years. Since graduating from New Mexico State University with her Master’s in Counseling in July 2020, Kaitlyn has brought a great deal of knowledge, dedication, and experience to our practice. After completing over 2,000 hours of clinical practice, Kaitlyn earned the title of Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in September 2022 and offers individual counseling via telehealth. To learn more about Kaitlyn, read our Q&A below.
What made you want to become a therapist?
This was not my first career route, actually. Ever since I was 14 or 15 I wanted to be a journalist (I watched way too much Gilmore Girls). I enjoy writing and I like telling stories, but somewhere along the way, I realized I didn’t want to keep working on a deadline and telling other people’s stories for them. I wanted to help people tell their own stories.
I loved psychology so I chose that as my second major and just kept going with it. I did a load of research and realized that I didn’t want to do that forever either, so my primary researcher recommended going to school for counseling. I started looking into it and decided to give it a go.
How would you describe your approach to counseling?
It’s very informative, warm, and friendly, but also challenging. I like to work with a lot of different approaches because I work with a lot of people that have trauma and life experiences that are not traditional. Some people’s experiences are better suited for thinking and cognitive therapy and sometimes we really don’t have a choice but to accept our circumstances, which is where I’ll bring in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
What’s important to me is that I have a relationship with my clients, and so I try to make that the first priority. I spend a lot of time building rapport and tailoring therapy to each of my individual clients.
What kind of clients are you the most passionate about working with?
I really enjoy working with clients who have complicated pasts, whether it’s having an eating disorder for 10-20+ years, a past addiction, sexual abuse, long-standing chronic health issues… I love working with people who maybe don’t even remember a life before trauma. These people are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. They are willing to try new things and experiment and see what happens.
What strengths do you bring to your work?
My curiosity, array of life experiences, and humor have become some of my biggest strengths as a therapist. I have also found that my inability to fit into a single box has helped immensely as a therapist because my experiences have led me to learn and empathize with a wide array of problems.
One thing I hear a lot from my clients is, “I never thought of it that way.” We talk about things with the goal of looking at a situation or approaching it from a different perspective. Not only have my clients told me that my perspective was new, but they have felt the safety to explore different ideas without the fear of judgment.
I’m also a big honesty person–I like to be very upfront and show up as I am. If I’m going to ask you to show up as you are, I am going to do the same and give you my authentic self. I want everybody I work with to know I’m showing up because I care, and I care because I want to.
If you could help your clients to feel or learn one thing in working with you, what would it be?
A big one lately has been that all feelings are welcome–you can feel anything you want to feel. For example, I work with a lot of family/intergenerational trauma, so lately it’s been about reminding clients that it’s okay to get mad if a family member brings up something that is triggering for you. And it’s okay not to spend time with family. And it’s okay to feel sad about that.
Another big theme lately has been reminding clients that “it wasn’t your fault.” Yes, we play a role and our actions have an impact on the world around us, but we do not ask to get sexually assaulted or to develop an eating disorder or become addicted to drugs.
What do you do outside of work that helps you maintain a healthy, well-balanced life?
I do a lot of Legos. I also travel with my fiance a lot, hike, hang out with my dogs, and craft– whether it’s beading, friendship bracelets, embroidery, or making a blanket. I also read occasionally and like to do yoga.
If you weren’t a therapist, what would you be?
I have no clue! I enjoy being a therapist. It’s pretty great. I can’t really see myself doing anything else.
If you are interested in working with Kaitlyn, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free phone consultation.