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Gisele Fernandes, MFT, is a licensed psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, organizational consultant and graduate level educator. She has extensive training and clinical experience in body-oriented approaches to psychotherapy, using an integrative approach that is rooted in Somatic, Humanistic-Existential and Transpersonal psychologies.
Originally from Brazil, Gisele began her career in the mental health field almost 20 years ago as a counselor in a hospital setting in Rio de Janeiro. From the beginning, Gisele was interested in the body-mind connection, initially around the manifestation of illness related to life style. She was involved in research with heart transplant patients and published an article about quality of life and heart transplant in a Brazilian medical journal, where she looked at body image and self-esteem after heart transplant. In the late 90s, Gisele’s interest in the body-mind connection began to move away from the medical setting towards a more holistic way of understanding and treating the complexities of the mind-body-soul. In that search, she deepened her studies in Jungian psychology, Reichian theories and Gestalt therapy. Her love for Gestalt therapy and her involvement with a training institute in Rio de Janeiro brought her to Big Sur’s Esalen Institute, where she lived and studied for two years, deepening her knowledge and skills in holistic approaches to psychotherapy. Afterward, Gisele completed a master’s degree in Somatic Psychology at CIIS.
Since 2001, she has been working in the Bay Area with diverse clients in community mental health and private practice settings, being particularly involved in serving the Latino population. Being an immigrant to the United States, a woman of color and in a bicultural marriage, Gisele has developed a profound interest in cross-cultural issues, which has become one of the main topics of her clinical, teaching and consulting work.
In her private practice in Oakland and San Francisco, Gisele specializes in helping individuals, couples and families to deepen mind-body awareness, improve communication skills and heal from limiting belief systems and traumatic wounds. Besides her humanistic and somatic backgrounds, Gisele’s therapeutic work integrates sensorimotor trauma and attachment psychotherapy and mindfulness.
In her work with individuals and groups, she also draws from her background in dance and yoga. Gisele’s personal approach to healing is rooted in her commitment to spirituality and indigenous traditions of her native Brazil.
In 2008, Gisele joined the core faculty in the somatic psychology program and adjunct faculty in the transpersonal psychology program at John F. Kennedy University. For five years, she taught classes in Group Process, Expressive Movement, Cross-Cultural Counseling, Child Therapy and Law and Ethics. Also since 2008, Gisele has taught Cross-Cultural Counseling and the Family as an adjunct faculty member at CIIS and joined the Integral Counseling Program as a core faculty member in 2013.
Gisele’s most recent presentations in national conferences were on “Mind-body approaches to preventing, understanding and treating compassion fatigue” (2009) and “Yoga, dance and expressive arts in transformative learning: A psychological inquiry through the chakra system” (2012).