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My Experience

My experience begins in America, a small factory town in New Jersey located outside of New York City. Here is where I learned about many of the heartbreaks that were soon to sculpt my life. I believe that my own experiences, these heartbreaks as I refer to them, have prepared me to be an insightful and empathetic therapist. However, it was only with the help of my own therapist was I able to reach my truest, healthiest self.

But wait, why am I taking this risk to be vulnerable and transparent with you? 

I do not and would not ask of my people anything I would not be willing to do myself. I can’t speak for other pschotherapists, but what I can say is that I encourage and promote a transparent process. So here is my story and why I think I could help you reach your goals – and perhaps discover other aspirations you didn’t know you had. 

 

Before therapy, I lived in a constant state of crisis. I felt lost, awash in the fears created by violence both at home and in the community. In addition to depression, anxiety, and loneliness, I developed unhealthy coping habits, such as anorexia and self-harming. Later I learned there was a name for what I had been living; it was called PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I realized that PTSD was something I had, not who I was. I learned how to manage my symptoms to make space for my own healing – a healing journey that had naturally paved a path to my life’s work as a psychotherapist.

I worked many years with my therapist to break through these burdens. I didn’t know how I was going to overcome them when I began my journey, I merely believed that if I stayed the course it would somehow work out. Years later I found my voice, my hope, my true authentic self.

I began my career at age 20 as a volunteer for at-risk girls in a group home. Girls who had seen darker days than me and were fighting to overcome.

 

What did I have to offer them?

 

I myself was a lost soul. This is when I realized hope comes in many forms. Having someone who believed in them meant everything to these girls – especially someone who had survived her own abuse and escaped to follow her dreams.

Volunteering evolved over the years to jobs working with children with disabilities. I discovered I was getting closer to my passion by offering empathy, compassion and kindness to those who were often overlooked and dismissed. This eventually led me back to working with inner city youth and ex-gang members in a residential treatment facility (RTF). I also served as a CASA advocate (Court Appointed Special Advocate), where I earned the Presidential Volunteer of the Year Award. I take great pride in this award because it demonstrated the work I did mattered; that these children mattered.

I quickly realized, however, that the lasting potential of this work was limited - even sabotaged - by dysfunctional environments these children experienced while at these facilities. To meet this need, I became a reunification family therapist. I worked with children removed by the system, with the goal of reuniting them with their families in a healthy and safe manner. Through this work experience, I had the honor of facilitating and witnessing substantial transformation through the use of family systems therapy, propelled by my training at the Philadelphia Child and Family Therapy Training Center. I realized I needed to further my education to gain a stronger skill set, so off to grad school I went.

I attended and graduated from LIOS Graduate College of Saybrook University, an experiential-based program that focused on systems theory. From here I explored gambling counseling until settling into my own private practice. My private practice is important to me because here I can work in a way that honors my clients’ best interests without restrictions.

Which brings me to today…my journey is done one might say…I did my work…I got my degree…right...? Well, yes and no. Even as we reach our goals, our work is never truly done, is it? This is exciting to me because it means we can always grow and explore. Whether you are considering taking your first steps or exploring your journey more in depth, I look forward to meeting with you and seeing where your journey leads you next. As my journey now continues from living in the Pacific Northwest, Washington state, to the Netherlands.

Lets Talk...

Jenifer Piegaro
Psychotherapist & Coach

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