Michelle Álvarez, Psy.D.
About Michelle Álvarez
I’ve wanted to be a Psychologist since I was in third grade. Now I’ve been one for more than 15 years, and I still love it. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a diverse range of professional experiences. I’ve worked at a maximum-security prison, the VA, large private hospitals, smaller clinics and health centers, an advocacy center for abused children, nursing homes for the elderly, and more recently, private practice.
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and went to school there all the way up through High School. After that, I moved to the States for college. I graduated cum laude from New York University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Art History. I did coursework and apprenticed on Subsaharan African Art methods in Côte d'Ivoire. I also studied Fine Arts at Designskolen in Kolding, Denmark. And then I went to China to teach English.
I came back to the States after being awarded a fellowship for a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Indianapolis. I completed two specializations there, Child and Adolescent Psychology and Geriatric Psychology, because I wanted to make sure I could competently work with folks of any age. I also picked up a Master’s in Clinical Psychology along the way. I interned at the maximum-security Indiana Women's Prison, at a community health center, and at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. I was also a consultant with the Indianapolis Healing Arts Project, a wonderful group devoted to providing veterans with the opportunity to share in the art of their peers. After I passed the comprehensive exams and defended my dissertation on the therapeutic use of art with Veterans, it was back to New York City, for postdoctoral training at The Fifth Avenue Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy.
Upon graduation --officially a Doctor!-- I was offered a position at one of the nation’s premier hospitals, New York-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. There I was able to work with people of all ages and was part of a treatment team addressing the needs of sexually and physically abused children at the Child Advocacy Center. Eventually I would move to a Senior Staff Psychologist position at The Floating Hospital. There I had the opportunity to work extensively with New York's homeless population, as well as the community at large, and to collaborate regularly with the Administration for Children's Services.
Then I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where I started a private practice, called Santosha, a word which means contentment & satisfaction. Even after all the professional opportunities I’ve been honored to experience, I have never been so fulfilled in my career as I am now. As a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200), I was able to combine my two superpowers and create a holistic method for therapy that is both unique and powerful. I call it TALKyoga©. It’s a beautiful integration of psychotherapy with yoga and mindfulness techniques. I use it to help people set and achieve their mental, emotional, spiritual and physical resolutions.
I’m able to help people in both English and Spanish, and can also provide Immigration and Deportation Hardship Evaluations.
Recently I was interviewed on NPR about the scarcity of therapists of color and how it creates barriers to POC’s access to quality mental health in Western North Carolina: https://www.bpr.org/post/lack-therapists-color-creates-barriers-mental-health-access-western-north-carolina#stream/0. I’m working with colleagues on fixing this, by developing a non-profit organization to help fund mental health treatment for individuals of color and/or members of the LGBTQIA+ community. And that’s just the start.
SpecialtiesAging, Parenting, Trauma / PTSD
Age Group FocusChildren, Adolescents, Adults, Seniors
Treatment ApproachesArt Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral (CBT), Culturally Sensitive, Eclectic, Existential, Expressive Arts, Family / Marital, Humanistic, Multicultural, Play Therapy, Somatic, Trauma Focused
IssuesAcademic issues, ADHD, Adoption, Aging, Anger Management, Anxiety, Behavior Issues, Child or Adolescent, Coping Skills, Depression, End of Life Issues, Family Conflict, Immigration Issues, Marital / Premarital, Military, Oppositional Defiance, Parenting, Postpartum, Pregnancy, Prenatal, Racial Identity, Relationship Issues, Self Esteem, Trauma / PTSD