Elsa Lopez, Registered Social Worker Intern

"Helping teens, adults, and couples catalyze change as they face difficult challenges and life transitions." 

Life isn’t always easy, and nobody is spared the pain of loss or conflict. Sometimes, decisions around career, partners, friendships and finances sour, or lose their zeal. Or, choices about what to pursue, where to live, and what’s next at home, school or with loved ones may be complicated by interpersonal strife. We can feel stuck in dissatisfaction, unsure about taking a next step for fear of failure or the unknown.

Even the strongest people need support to maneuver life stages and transition, and unforeseen events. And, it can be hard to let others in to help when you feel down, overwhelmed, defeated, or withdrawn, especially if you think you’ll be misunderstood or given answers you didn’t ask for and don’t suit you.

You deserve to have someone who sees the whole of the situation. And someone who can help you better handle your emotions and circumstances, without rejecting or abandoning the parts of you that work. I understand. I’ve been there and want to help.

Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, past trauma, relationship conflict, stress, low self-esteem, or just being different from the pack, you are not alone. My first job is to help you feel safe, understood, and supported. Clients often thank me for having a warm smile and being open and easy to talk to. As rapport grows, you’ll gain trust to dig deep and discover new ways to address what’s troubling you.

I believe life is negotiable and that you have many assets with which to create the life you want. I listen for your strengths, resources and resilience. I provide you coping skills and mindful tools to maintain clarity in ambiguous situations. I work in an integral way, pulling the best from your resources and mine.

My toolbox holds different tools for different treatment goals. These may include cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavioral, and trauma-informed approaches (such as Trauma Incidence Reduction), Gottman Method for couples therapy, imaginal and psychosensory techniques, mindfulness and expressive writing/journaling. Mind, body and spiritual dimensions are all part of the healing process.

My Services

Although I have many years of experience as a professional, I am currently a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern working toward my licensure.

 

I call myself an Integral Therapist, but what does that mean? Typically:

  • Integral psychotherapists utilize multiple theories and traditions, incorporating elements of art, expressive writing, mindfulness, spirituality and nature to promote healing.

  • Those who practice integral psychotherapy tend to see it as a method of nonjudgmental guidance, allowing clients to gain insight and learn from their struggles.

  • Practitioners of integral psychology believe life (and its tribulations) provides constant opportunities for evolution and growth, resulting in awareness and connection that can deepen an individual’s sense of meaning.

  • Integral therapists help clients “learn from suffering rather than escape it.”

As an integral therapist, I work with teens (over the age of 15), adults, and couples to achieve positive outcomes and to facilitate healing from traumatic and destructive behaviors.

Adults:

I offer men and women the necessary tools and resources to solve problems and establish a clearer path toward healing. Adults have many years of experience maneuvering through the difficulties of life, but sometimes old habits and ways of being meet situations that require fresh solutions. With me, you will proactively deal with issues, while we track your goals and progress.

Teens:

I give teens the mirroring, listening and holding they need to individuate from their parents and friends in healthy ways, enabling them to achieve positive outcomes with accountability and choice. Teens begin to see that they have power in their lives, and that wise use of that power can set them up securely for successfully maneuvering transitions from high school to what’s next, be it college or the workforce. We also work on communication and relational skills that last a lifetime.

Couples:

Couples may find that expending energy on “perpetual problems” zaps them from the connectivity that holds them together throughout life’s rough patches. I am trained in Level 1 of the Gottman Method Couples Therapy and train partners to hear and appreciate the other. I help couples turn their attention to shared goals and dreams, which often diminishes the charge of conflicts that naturally arise between independent beings. Together, we explore shared values and eliminate communication killers, enabling a couple to work through conflicts.

Using my training in trauma and effective communication,  I will help you identify repeated conflicts of the past, including traumatic events, or ruptured relationships with parents, authority figures, siblings and colleagues. Compassionately, we bring traumas and conflicts into full view, allowing you to recast problems as opportunities for action, with gentle guidance and feedback. Given today’s focus upon workplace wellness, I can also provide corporate and organizational trainings to educate groups and work environments about mental health challenges and solutions.

My Background

I came to the field of marriage and family therapy as a second career, out of appreciation for the healing therapy provides. My first career was law. I most enjoyed what we call corporate governance or informed decision making by corporations. I obtained an AV Preeminent rating of professional excellence by Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory and did my best to serve.

In litigation, we work with the many parts that make up the whole of a story; change in any one part, however small, can radically alter a case outcome. In therapy, we also work with the parts and the whole, reframing them in a way that best suits what you need from life right now, and as life progresses. After all, who you were at 15 is not who you are at 25, 50 or beyond. Sometimes, what we need is the freedom to adapt. Even while I practiced law, I nurtured my soul through community service and my own personal growth and development work. As an attorney, I frequently wrote and presented on topics of practical application, and as a therapist, have presented at the Florida Counselor’s Association and in Group workshops for the International Association of Social Work in Groups.

In working with domestic violence victims, I was able to provide basic training for individuals forced to represent themselves pro se in injunction proceedings. After watching one well-prepared client present her case, the judge encouraged the client to consider law school. I now utilize my advocacy and passion for people, social justice and healing, as a new kind of Counselor, one integrating the healing arts.

I also bring more than 15 years of training and development with Landmark Worldwide and participation in Being a Leader with Werner Erhard. These courses provide experiential, on the court training to deal with living an invented life.

I obtained my undergraduate degree in journalism from Loyola University in New Orleans, LA. I wrote life and times stories for the school newspaper. Expressive writing and journaling are now a focus of mine. I have steadily maintained a journal for more than 20 years and utilize expressive writing in session and in workshops entitled Write to Be.

I attended law school in Gainesville Florida, at the University of Florida, Levin College of Law. There, I also served as an Associate Editor of the Law Review and was awarded the Myrna Brick service award.  I currently maintain membership in both the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and the Florida Bar Association. I also participate in the IASWG, the Florida Society for Group Work and the Jungian Association of South Florida. I have undertaken numerous trainings in Jungian dream work and archetypes, Trauma Incident Reduction, DBT skills, psychodrama and group work. I see learning as a lifelong process.

Just For Fun

As the years progress, I sometimes forget the “fun facts” of life with which I have been blessed. Things you might not know about me include:

  • At age 15, I shot an eagle on a par 4 hole - #8 at Indian Hills. To this day, I can remember how I felt, and the embodiment of that perfect shot. I recall my father suggesting I take a penalty shot because my long tee shot landed me behind a group of Palm trees, but instead I listened to my instinct, and voila.                                                                                                      

  • I have rock climbed, multi-pitch (and river rafted), in Colorado, California and Nevada, training first in a South Florida rock-climbing gym before traveling solo to meet guides I had never met before and entrusting my life in their care. Most of these outdoor trips accompanied outdoor folk festivals which are right up my alley. I love mountains, streams, hiking, camping and the outdoors. I am not stopped by risk, but rarely make risky moves without preparation and guidance.                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                    

  • I married my soulmate at 42. He was 49. For each of us it was a first marriage. His friends and family thought he would never marry, and I too had lost hope on finding the right mate. We dated for several years and lived together before tying the knot. When asked what changed his mind, my husband stated that it was my “persevering while giving him space” that made the difference. Understanding the other and how they operate is now a cornerstone of my work with couples.                                                                                                                   

  • I learned Spanish in my 30s, which revolutionized the way I work and relate in the world. My mother is Nicaraguan, but we grew up speaking only English in the home. When I learned Spanish, I embraced Mis Raices and came to know myself and my family history in a new, embellished way. Notably, I also appeared as an extra in the movie Last Plane Out regarding the Nicaraguan revolution. At the time, I was an intern at the local newspaper where newsroom scenes were shot.                                                                                                                 

I am passionate about work, but also about play. I love art, music, puppets, charades, and expressive therapeutic techniques including psychodrama. When life feels out of sync, I use mindful practices such as yoga and journaling to reconnect. I enjoy weight training and healthy eating, but splurge as much as the next guy, in moderation. I love dark chocolate, coffee and red wine. I have friends and clothes from 20 years ago that still fit. I have no family members with whom I am unable or unwilling to communicate. My husband and my Shih Tzu/Maltese mix (Mishka) are my best friends and companions. Travel and learning fuel me.  

Why Work with Me? 

One of the most important factors for a successful therapeutic outcome is the relationship between the client and therapist. My objective is not to give you an answer, but rather to give you an experience of yourself as a change catalyst. Our work together will foster the type of trust and honesty where new, natural solutions emerge. Our work will be dynamic, with each of us growing in the process.

I am bilingual and provide services in English and Spanish. My rate is $120/50-minute hour, with an initial 90 minute session charged at $150. I offer Saturday and evening appointments to meet the needs of busy students, parents and couples, and offer a limited sliding scale for fees and economizing, discounted packages after our first session together.

Get Started Today!

With so much potential in life, why settle for dissatisfaction. Allow me to help you catalyze change, with safe, supportive guidance. Call, text or email me to get started. There’s no time like the present.

 

Please call or text me at 786.708.1724 to discuss setting up a session. I can also be reached via email at carlabarrow@theintegraltherapist.com.  Feel free to visit my website to learn more about my approach and how I can help you! 

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