Anel graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Masters of Education in Clinical Mental Health from Lynchburg College. She has worked in multiple settings within the Mental Health field with a focus in working with children and families for over 7 years.
Anel has experience providing trauma-informed therapy to a diverse clientele and has training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has received training in family focused attachment-based modalities such as Thera-play and Filial Play. She utilized Sand Tray, Expressive Therapeutic Approaches, and integrative directive and non-directive Play Therapy. Anel also enjoys using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in working with adolescents and young adults. Anel is currently in the process of becoming certificated as a Registered Play Therapist and has extensive experience working with children who have experienced various forms of trauma including domestic violence. Anel's therapeutic approach is both integrative and individualistic. She works carefully in creating a therapeutic safe space fostering healing, growth, and self-confidence.
Anel has a keen interest in working with children and adolescents affected by trauma and experiencing depression and anxiety. She enjoys providing close parent consultation and support for parents of children impacted by trauma. Anel is fluent in Spanish and has experience working with bi-lingual and bi-cultural Spanish speaking children and families.
Please tell us a little about what drew you to want to work in this particular group private practice?
The Gil Institute has been well known for its work and continuing education on trauma and recovery. Since I developed an interest in working with children clinically, I have admired professionals like Dr. Gil, Dr. Shaw, and Ms. Goldin, who dedicate their time to the advancement and pursuit of excellence in children's mental health services. After participating in trainings at the Gil Institute and getting to know some of the faculty and therapists there, I recognized the quality of their work, their passion towards their mission, and how well that mission was aligned with my own.
What has your clinical experience been to date?
I began working in the clinical field at the start of my graduate studies. Learning in class while having clinical experience at the same time gave me a strong sense of my therapeutic identity early on. This included Intensive In-Home Therapy, Crisis Intervention and Crisis Stabilization, school based therapeutic intervention and outpatient therapy. Because of my fluency in Spanish, I provided services in Spanish and English to bi-cultural families. During this time, I came across clients with histories of trauma, including generational trauma. The fulfillment I got from these experiences confirmed my interest in a specialization in childhood trauma. I then shifted to working with families and children impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness. Since then, I engaged in ongoing trainings specific to understanding and addressing various types of traumatic experiences in childhood.
What special interests do you bring to Gil Institute?
I have a special interest in parent-child work. I naturally gravitate toward parent coaching that intertwines cognitive-behavioral and play therapy approaches. I enjoy using techniques that strengthen parent-child attunement and attachment. Such modalities include but are not limited to Theraplay, Filial-Play, and TF-CBT.
Describe your primary way of working with children and their families.
My way of working with families begins with building an authentic therapeutic relationship that expresses genuine regard and gives time for emphatic understanding. As I use my skills to attune with my clients, I pace the therapy process according to the needs of the client. I typically begin with child-centered play therapy and sand tray. I then incorporate directive work to assess the child's social-emotional baseline. With this information, I structure my treatment plan according to the client's needs and parents goals.
What theoretical approaches guide and inform your work?
Early on in my career, I adopted a primarily Adlerian theoretical orientation. The guiding principles of Individual Psychology (Alfred Adler) align with my current orientation. Adler emphasized that all individuals naturally strive for improvement and toward healing and growth in their lives, but people need people, or their own support network to maximize growth. Individuals ultimately want to have a sense of belonging and to be contributing member of society, whatever form that may take. I believe that we are each unique and have a need to belong and self-express. In addition, many family systems, dynamic and parenting concepts stem in part from Adlerian or Individual Psychology.
Where do you most find passion in your life?
I know it might sound a bit cliche as a child therapist, but I find passion in helping and caring for children. In addition, what's life without friendships? I like being a friend to others and having people in my life. Being in community brings warmth, laughter, and support and I prioritize social relationships.
Tell us a little about you: Where were you born, where are you living, what are your hobbies?
I'm part Mexican, born in Mexico, and part Bolivian. My family immigrated to the States when I was 3 years old and I spent most of my life in Fairfax county. I grew up bi-cultural and bi-lingual, speaking both Spanish and English at home. I currently live in Silver Spring, MD with my husband, Jeremy. I love going to the Baltimore Zoo with him and since I never grow tired of it, we have a membership so we can visit as much as we like. To unwind or simply enjoy the day, I'll go for walk or hike while practicing mindfulness. When my creative side emerges, I enjoy painting, sketching, or making crafts.
What sparks joy in your life?
Seeing those I love happy and joyful sparks the most joy in my life. Other people's joy can be contagious! When my nephew gives me a hug out of the blue with a sweet "I love you," my heart melts. A family tradition that sparks most joy for me is preparing Thanksgiving dinner with my mother (I love thanksgiving food, which is probably an understatement). If I'm ever in a bad mood all I have to do is pick up my hedgehog and play with him. It's tough to be in bad mood with a cute little hedgehog in the palm of your hands! Since I love nature so much I have dreams of getting a tree house, perhaps not as extravagant as the Tree House Masters make on their tv show but if I could, I would. Lastly, at the top of my list would be to take a trip to Alaska to go grizzly bear watching. For now, the grizzly bears at the Baltimore Zoo will do!