About Pasadena Psychotherapist Melissa Lopez, LCSW
I earned my Masters in Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, MA. At Smith College School for Social Work I was trained in classical theories and learned to work with clients from a psycho dynamic, insight oriented perspective. I earned my Bachelors of Arts from the University of Redlands, Johnston College in Redlands, CA. My degree in undergraduate was a self created degree titled, “Dimensions of Social Injustice and Social Change,” a degree which allowed me to delve into different areas of societal oppression and examine how oppression and injustice have affected people and communities, it also allowed me to examine how people who have been oppressed have created change on a personal and societal level. In addition to my Masters degree, I completed a certificate program at Smith College School for Social Work focused on contemplative clinical practice.
My career as a psychotherapist began in the fall of 2003 at my internship as an MSW intern at the Venice Family Clinic in Santa Monica. My second internship was at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles where I worked providing psychotherapy to women, men, couples and families and conducted both individual psychotherapy and group psychotherapy using insight oriented modalities as well as cognitive behavioral therapies. After graduating I worked at the USC Hamovitch Research Center conducting Problem Solving Therapy, a derivative of CBT specifically to diabetic populations. I worked at AIDS Project Los Angeles for many years in which I worked with many men, women and transgender clients living with HIV/AIDS, during my work there I also worked heavily with clients struggling with substance abuse/addiction and clients living in recovery from substance abuse/addiction. I worked with SRO Housing Corporation in which I provided psychotherapy for people living with HIV/AIDS living in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles where I worked with men, women and transgender individuals who struggled with a range of issues from poverty, lack of access to health care, societal oppressions and mental illness. In addition to my practice, I also facilitated a breast cancer support group for women in Spanish at the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia for four years. I have worked in various primary health care settings working within a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and health educators providing treatment to clients with various backgrounds. My range of experience has allowed me to develop a great understanding of working with individuals and couples from a wide range of ages, cultures and race, gender, lifestyles, economic backgrounds and mental health concerns.
I have worked in my own private practice in Pasadena, CA. since March of 2010 with specializations working with individuals who are seeking a therapist with progressive ideals and an understanding of the systemic oppressions that factor into how people who identify as women, people of color, QTPoC/LGBTQQ experience attacks on one's identities and the connection of these experiences to depression, anxiety and other interpersonal struggles. My focus and goal is to create healing spaces that honor people who have been born in struggle due to the various societal and systemic oppressions but who are warriors who have become disconnected with their own power or simply need support in a world that can feel invalidating of those experiences. As such I have extensive experience working with women, people of color, the Queer community and people with radical ideals striving to work against societal oppressions.
A Unique Approach that Makes a Difference
My approach to counseling is using a decolonized approach to healing. While I have been trained and use various clinical modalities from feminist theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, psycho dynamic theories, and mindfulness techniques, I believe that what matters MOST in therapy is the relationship someone has with their therapist. My goal in working with clients is help clients make self realizations about the manners in which they have integrated negative messages about themselves from society and reclaim who they truly are. It is crucial for me to help empower a client to make changes and equally important to work in a culturally affirming manner whether that be affirming a client’s gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or spirituality, culture, ethnicity or race. Services with me are available in English and Spanish. I provide psychotherapy for individuals, couples and families in a safe space that ensures privacy in Pasadena, CA.
Professional Memberships and Affiliations:
National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color
National Association of Social Workers
The Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement
Board Member, Center for Clinical Social Work (July 2010 - 2013)
Board Member, Smith School for Social Work Alumni Board (June 2012 - July 2013)
NASW Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship Panel (June 2010 - 2012)
Outside of the therapist role:
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California but feel fortunate to have been able to travel and live in different parts of the world including short stays in Seattle, WA., Washington D.C., Northampton, MA., Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay and Habana, Cuba. I call Los Angeles my favorite city in the world with a strong appreciation and love for all places. As a Latinx/Xicana feminist, my cultural roots are very important to me and what grounds me in my work as a healer. I currently share a home with three beautiful hounds named Angel, Luna and Nico. When I am not sharing space with clients I love to spend time crafting- knitting, painting, drawing, making dream catchers and gardening. My favorite holidays are Halloween, Christmas and honoring the ritual and tradition of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in English. As a daughter of immigrants, I grew up speaking both English and Spanish and still use Spanish on a daily basis.