Born and raised in Los Angeles to Mexican Parents, Lesley was raised with the value of preserving, respecting, and cherishing her native language. As a bilingual, California Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, Lesley specializes in emotional trauma with most of her experience with victims of violent crimes, children/adolescents with at risk youth and special needs. Her methodology extends the breaches of traditional talk therapy, using art therapy, sandtray therapy, play therapy, among other creative mediums.
Within days of graduating from Nogales High School in La Puente, Ms. Cruz enlisted in the US Army. During her time in the service she was temporarily assigned in El Paso, Texas, Alexandria, Virginia, and later stationed in South Korea for over a year as a Patriot Missile Operator before touring as cast member of the US Army Soldier Show touring nationwide snd overseas . During her time in the service, Ms. Cruz managed to take several college courses with Central Texas College and the University of Maryland. At the time, her plan was to become a detective or a criminal psychologist.
Fascinated with the mechanisms that drive human behavior, In 1998 Lesley began her academic pursuits majoring in Criminal Psychology at Central Texas College and later the University of Maryland. It wouldn't be until 2004, she would resume and transfer her studies obtaining in 2006 her undergraduate degree in Human Services followed by her Master's of Science degree in Counseling in 2009 from the University of Phoenix.
She would spend her practicum and externship years developing and solidifying her profesional identity working with every population accessable to her such as children, teens, couples, and families. She even spent a year as a subcontractor of the San Bernardino Regional Center, implementing early intervention strategies with the Infant/Toddler population as a Child Specialist, helping special needs children achieve functional and age level skillset. Ms. Cruz would embark on various projects teaching and presenting bilingual parenting classes, working with couples doing both marital and premarital counseling, facilitate support groups (Group Therapy) with high risk teens, and learn to creatively level with 4 year olds stricken with grief. Working with various elementary and high school districts in the course of 8 years would later open doors as a Trauma Specialist for the Sachs Institute, a subcontracting agency sustained with ongoing referrals from the California Victims of Crime program.
Her flexibility, curiousity, and openness, would grant her the priviledge of working at Caremore Healthcare for nearly a year serving the mental health needs of dependent adults with severe mental illness in addition to counseling elderly and frail adults sometimes three times her age. It was working at Caremore that she had the opportunity to see the full impact of illnesses such as Alzheimer's, Grief, mounting a support group for the spouses of those inflicted with this form of Dementia. It was at this same facility that Lesley was able to have a up close and personal look at the complexities of mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Lesley is also trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), a clinical, trauma focused therapy which employs minimal dialogue between patient and clinician instead utilizing patient's own rapid, rhythmic eye movements in a bilateral pattern to dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of traumatic events. This specialized treatment is particulalrly effective in treating severe cases of torture, hostage situations, sexual abuse, and other severe trauma.
Ms. Cruz was granted clearance by L.A. District Attorney’s Office when volunteering for their Victim Witness Assistance Program in 2011. Early 2014 she was granted the required clearance by the L.A. Probation Department for employment at New Opportunities Charter School where she continues to render services and administrative support through a variety of personal enrichment workshops, life coaching, Parenting classes, and individual psychotherapy. She's also had the opportunity to work with the inmate population at Twin Towers Correctional Facility where she served as a Life Skills Instructor with female inmates.
Ms. Cruz currently maintains a small mobile and private practice between the South Bay and Downtown area of Los Angeles when she's not conducting various enrichment workshops or providing counseling services at Family First Charter School and New Opportunities Charter School. With over 8 years experience as a Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist, and as a graduate of University Of Phoenix, she sought out additional training in Gestalt Therapy at Gestalt Associates Training Los Angeles (GATLA). Here she trained under the mentorship of the brightest minds in the United States and taken their summer residence programs in retreat locations in upstate New York and Poland. In addition to being a prominent relationship therapist, Ms. Cruz has presented to various elected and political audiences, education executives, parent audiences, and student/teen audieces. She's lectured on the topics of Parenting, Parental Communication, Discipline & Punishment, Anger, Addictions, Grief, Child Abuse,Communication, Domestic Violence, to name a few. Ms. Cruz is an interactive, gestalt therapist. Her therapeutic approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client. With compassion and understanding, she works with each individual to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing.
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