Genesis Espinoza is a Salvadorian-Mexican-American licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in California. She has her private practice in Mission Hills, CA where she provides individual therapy and family therapy to children, teens, and adults dealing with a myriad of mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.
Genesis also provides immigration evaluations to the immigrant community hoping to attain the American dream. She is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Individual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Managing and Adapting Practice, Seeking Safety, and Crisis Oriented Recovery. Genesis also has extensive experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum using Applied Behavioral Analysis.
It is great to have you with us, Genesis! Can you tell us a little bit about your story as a licensed marriage and family therapist as well as being the founder of Healing and Growth?
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story and my practice. My name is Genesis Espinoza and I am a Latina, first-generation Salvadorian American, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in California, 20 minutes from Metropolitan Los Angeles. My mother is from El Salvador and my father is from Mexico. When I was young, I always had a passion for science and psychology; and I was determined to be a doctor.
Once I went to UC Irvine for undergrad, that’s when reality hit that I needed to change my major and my dreams. I started taking psychology classes and realised that I could help people with mental health difficulties. I graduated from UC Irvine and went on to Pepperdine University for my master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. I completed 3,000 hours of clinical experience at various settings such as high schools in underserved communities in Los Angeles, clinics, and mental health agencies serving low income and primarily Latino migrant families. In graduate school and while completing my hours, I was always dreamed of opening my own private practice. As soon as I became licensed last year, I started my business: Healing and Growth.
Healing and Growth’s mission is to help your clients stay in the moment and to plan for the future. Can you explore how you are doing that through your therapy that you offer?
My mission is to actually help individuals heal and grow from pain through empathy, heart, and compassion. I come from a client cantered/humanistic background that accepts the individual wholeheartedly while challenging them to see their experiences through a more rational lens. I provide empathy, active listening, and basically my authenticity to help connect with the client and embark on their healing journey.
Can you explain the sensitive procedures you take when providing assistance to your clients worried about their immigration issues?
Definitely. First and foremost, I follow HIPPA laws, which protect the client’s confidentiality and keeps their information private. As a therapist, I believe in respecting and honouring the client and therapist trust that is established when I provide therapy. Confidentially is of the utmost importance in my practice. This includes their legal status. As a therapist and as a professional, it is my duty to truly only work within my scope of practice.
That means that when dealing with undocumented migrant folks, my scope of practice is solely to deal with the mental health aspect and that is why I work collaboratively with client’s lawyers and paralegals whereby I get a release of information form to share information regarding pertinent case information. Immigration lawyers and paralegals refer their clients to me who are in need of extreme hardship evaluations, U-Visa evaluations, Domestic Violence evaluations (VAWA), and T-Visa evaluations (human trafficking). These types of evaluations significantly improve the chances of immigrants staying in the U.S. (if facing deportation or relocation to their country of origin) and obtaining their green card.
Can you explain the company structure and the team working behind Healing and Growth?
I run my business alone, but in reality, there is somewhat of a team effort in that 70% of my business is immigration evaluations meaning that I collaborate with immigration lawyers. I currently work with 5 law immigration offices who routinely send me clients for me to conduct immigration evaluations, so in essence, they are my team. I work closely with their offices, so I’m constantly communicating with them; talking to lawyers and paralegals and trying to meet deadlines. For example; a client might be facing a deportation order, where they will see an immigration judge in a month. Therefore, I have to conduct interviews, type up my psychosocial assessment, and meet the deadline so that my evaluation will get to the judge’s hand by the court date. There is a lot of team effort involved.
What platforms are you using for marketing tools?
I am currently using Facebook, Instagram, Psychology Today, Latinx Therapy Directory, and Yelp for business for marketing tools.
Do you currently use any apps or tools to help the functionality of your business practice?
I basically use an Excel spreadsheet to track my expenses and revenue, a Square reader for credit card transactions, and Simple Practice which is an Electronic Health Record System that keeps progress notes and other paperwork organised and secure.
Who is the most influential female powerhouse that you admire and why?
Honestly, it’s my mother. She immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador all by herself in order to give her children a better life than she herself had grown up in a poor and violent country. She started her own business sending money orders and items from California to El Salvador straight from her home. She was able to raise 3 children on her own, provide me and my siblings with a great education, and she was able to reach the American dream of buying her own home. Everything I am I owe to my mother.
The best lesson learnt throughout the business building so far?
The best lessons I have learned are not afraid to take risks, that growth can feel uncomfortable and that is okay, and that time and energy are valuable and should be distributed carefully.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
For me, it means the ability and opportunity to be my own boss, to be my own powerhouse, to be an entrepreneur, and to be a leader in order to inspire others. For me, it means making my mark in the world by helping people, executing my potential, and challenging myself to step outside of my perceived limitations.
What does 2020 look like for you?
2019 was my first year as a private practice business owner. Honestly, it has not been easy, but I have learned a lot. In 2020, I hope to improve my business by expanding and continuing to grow, gather more clients and solidify my practice in the community. In 2020, I also hope to sharpen my business logistically; getting assistants and interns, a bigger office, more therapy services, free resources, and groups for my community.
Image taken by L.A. Momma Photography
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