Xiomara Lopez, LMSW, is a clinician in CFGC's Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for Children, working with children ages 5 to 18. Xiomara first joined The Child & Family Guidance Center as an intern in 2019, became a Care Coordinator a few months later and, in 2021, was hired as a clinician.
Read, in her own words, the passion she brings to her work and how her own life experience helps her relate to the challenges many of our CFGC clients face.
What gets you excited about your position? And/or what do you find challenging?
I think that for every clinician, what gets us excited about doing this job is seeing the impact we make on a micro, macro and mezzo level. I work with kids that are having trouble at school, at home or in other social settings. I’m in the process of being fully certified as a trauma focused therapist and so I work with kids who have been through loss and other events that may impact their everyday life. Knowing that the work I do can make a difference is what makes me want to do this job/service every day.
What led you to become a Social Worker?
I used to work in a school setting. I would be the one to refer the kids to therapy and learned very quickly the work therapists do with kids. I wanted to be on the other side and be able to do the one-to-one work with kids. I then saw a billboard on the road for the Master’s program at Fairfield University and decided to apply. I wish someone told me “you can do whatever your heart tells you.” I am a very emotional person so people didn’t really think I could do this work. But, on the contrary, the emotions, my heart and the passion I put into this work is what pushed me to complete the program and all the requirements I needed to graduate. I fortunately completed the program in two years and graduated in June 2021.
How does your background inform how you work with clients?
I was born in El Salvador. I came to the U.S. when I was 13 years old. My parents got divorced shortly after due to family conflicts. My mom then raised my 2 sisters and I while worked two to three jobs at a time. I see this same story in my work with kids. Having similar stories allows me to connect with kids and their families. I can empathize with kids having trouble adjusting to changes, trouble at school or at home, trouble expressing their thoughts and emotions and trouble accepting help or admitting that we need help sometimes.
It can be a stressful job. How do you take care of yourself?
I love taking walks, I love watching movies or shows, I love reading at night and love spending quality time with family and friends. I also allow myself to have lazy days when I need to decompress.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a therapist?
I wish to tell that future therapist that although burnout does exist, that it is also true that this service is very rewarding on a personal level. It is not an easy road for sure but as my mother always says, “take it little by little mija.”
Short or long-term goal?
My short term goal is to pass my state licensing exam and to complete my Trauma Treatment certification. Long term goal is to start my own practice.