I became a psychotherapist through an unusual route. I was a professional modern dancer in the Jose Limón Dance Company in New York City. After I moved to the Bay Area, I happened to see an ad in the San Francisco Bay Guardian about body-oriented psychotherapy classes. I called up CIIS and found out about their program in Somatic Psychology. That was how I transitioned from dance to psychotherapy.
In higher education, there's a lot of information imparted to students. At CIIS, what's valued as much is the student's own experience and knowledge. Now that I teach here at CIIS, I try to draw from the students the wisdom they have already, helping them to remember what they know already.
The Center for Somatic Psychotherapy, which I direct, is one of six CIIS counseling centers. Together the centers serve thousands of clients a year from the diverse Bay Area community, on a sliding scale. The counseling centers also work with the school district, with incarcerated populations, and in public housing. We see people of all different walks of life, sexualities, and genders. We counsel individuals, couples, youth, and groups.
We don't just turn out cookie-cutter duplicate therapists. We try to facilitate the growth of each student. For many CIIS students, the counseling centers are an important part of their training as skilled and compassionate pre-licensed therapists.