MEEKER | Like many young people who grow up in small towns, Kelli Garcia didn’t fully appreciate her hometown until she left. Now she’s back, and ready to give back to the community where her “roots run deepest” as a private counselor and psychotherapist.
“I am ecstatic to be back in Meeker and hopeful to give back to the community a fraction of what I have received from it,” Garcia said.
Garcia, a 2001 Meeker High School alumni, discovered her calling to help others while working at the Walbridge Wing, where she took classes and became a CNA (certified nursing assistant).
“Through this work I discovered an ability to connect with and help people when they were struggling and in need of a supportive hand,” Garcia said.
She continued working as a CNA while she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and human services at Fort Lewis College in Durango, which led her to a position as a social services director at a skilled nursing facility.
“It was at this time that I realized I would be able to make more of a difference with a professional degree,” she said, prompting her to apply to the School of Social Work at the University of Washington in Seattle where she received her Master’s degree in social work in 2012. For the next three years she worked under clinical supervision to obtain licensing as an independent clinical social worker (LCSW) in Washington and Colorado.
Garcia said there are a wide variety of life circumstances that can leave people feeling marginalized, confused, scared or unsure of what steps to take. The expertise of a counselor, therapist or support group can help people through those difficult experiences, whether temporary life transitions to chronic situations. She intends to provide services for adolescents through elders. Garcia listed death and dying, grief and loss, medical issues, mental illnesses from anxiety to severe and persistent mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, substance use, suicidal ideation or other crisis intervention, trauma, and overcoming stigma and prejudice, as some reasons someone might seek her services.
“I take a person-centered approach, because the relationship is the foundation of positive change. I also have a good understanding of how systems around the individual influence their lives, both negatively or positively,” she said. “I am a strong advocate for my clients and am always curious about how I can better support them.”
By NIKI TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org