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Despite the myths we’re told,

we are precious, we are valuable, & we are powerful:

especially when we work together ♥

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You may be surprised to know that ruminating, catastrophizing, avoiding, and even self-criticism are all different ways our bodies attempt to protect us, problem-solve, and realign us with our values.

After all, our brains are wired to protect us from real or perceived harm, which frequently involves suppressing and avoiding uncomfortable emotions. Our bodies are incredible self-regulators and we successfully find coping strategies to help us seek comfort and endure even some of the most painful situations.


While there may have been times in your past where these coping strategies were necessary in protecting you, some of them may no longer be as effective within your current context. In fact, the very same strategies that once kept you safe, may now be obstructing your ability to be present, access joy, view yourself and others accurately, and feel connected to your own intuition. Maybe you already know this, but don’t know how to release these strategies from their protective roles. This is where our work together can begin.


In therapy, we don’t ask, "what’s wrong with you". We look for thinking patterns, coping strategies, and communication styles that may no longer work for you, even if they may have at one time.


Our bodies never stop learning, and you are not doomed to a lifetime of cyclical patterns that leave you feeling hopeless, disconnected, or heartbroken.


In all spaces, and especially in therapy, I believe it is imperative to acknowledge and respect the similarities and differences between us. As a biracial, Asian American, queer, neurodivergent cisgender woman, I offer my solidarity, humility, and intentional awareness of how your intersecting identities inform your lived experiences and mental health.


It is also crucial in my work to address the dynamics of power, oppression, and privilege that consistently prohibit us from the joy, safety, and connectedness that we long for and so desperately deserve. Without this acknowledgment, it can be easy to inaccurately attribute our suffering to our individual failings instead of viewing it as a proportionate response to living within a society that is inherently traumatizing.


Healing begins when we replace our blame and self-judgment with curiosity, openness, and respect towards the ways we have found to survive in spite of the larger forces at hand. We can work together to create a life and imagine a future that reconnects you to your intuition, clarifies your values, and reclaims your power.


Your worth is inherent to your being and everyone deserves access to a safe, affirming witness to their self-exploration, growth, and acceptance. Despite the myths we’re told, we are precious, we are valuable, and we are powerful: especially when we work together. There is hope, and I believe we can find it. ♥



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at a glance:

  • Individual psychotherapy for adults 18+
  • Virtual only in Georgia
  • Insurance accepted (Cigna, Aetna, Oscar, UHC)
  • Self-Pay: $140/50-min session
  • Trauma-informed
  • LGBTQIA+-affirming
  • Neurodivergent-affirming

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About Me

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Identity

I am a queer, mixed race (Japanese, Chinese, White), neurodivergent (ADHD), cisgender woman (she/her/hers) occupying Mvskoke land (also called Decatur, GA). My upbringing was divided between attending school in the greater Metro Atlanta area and spending summers with my mother's family in Honolulu, Hawai'i. I have joyously provided mental health support to people across an array of intersecting identities (race, gender, sexuality, class, ability) for over 5 years.

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Georgia LCSW License #: CSW007816

National Provider ID #: 1982176939

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Theoretical

Foundations

& Frameworks

Professional &

Educational Experience

Familial relationships, as a microcosm of how we understand ourselves and others in the larger world, has been a life-long fascination for me. After graduating with my B.A. in Psychology at Georgia State University, I began my mental health career as a research specialist in a long-term study on Parent-Child Interaction Therapy within mental health agencies.


While completing my Masters in Social Work at Loyola University of Chicago, I provided support to domestic-violence survivors within the LGBTQIA+ community. Post-grad school, I spent several years serving families within community mental health settings before eventually entering private practice.


First and foremost, my work is grounded in the truth that all identities (cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual) and all bodies deserve access to safe, accessible, and unconditionally accepting mental health care and resources.


Foundations

(ever-present and inherent to my work with every person)


  • Anti-Racist
  • Trauma-informed
  • Lived-Experience Informed
  • Strengths-based
  • Queer-affirming
  • Trans-affirming
  • Neurodivergent-affirming
  • Anti-Fatphobic (Health at Every Size)
  • Polyam-affirming
  • Sex-positive
  • Sex work-affirming
  • Pro-Choice
  • Asexual & Aromatic-affirming
  • Feminist (via intersectionality)
  • Systemic
  • Relational


Frameworks

(optional tools and lenses that are offered, used critically and with discernment, are interchangeable, and are utilized based on fit, relevance, and comfortability of each client)


  • Experiential Therapy/Coherence Therapy
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS)
  • Attachment Theory
  • Psychodynamic Theory
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Actually About Me!

Just like everyone else, I am very much a person outside of my professional life! I love karaoke, horror movies and novels, thrifting and vintage shopping, roller coasters, spicy food, my air fryer, celebrity gossip, Sanrio, and all things Y2K. My current special interests include paleoanthropology (ancient humans) and general paleontology (ancient life including ancient animals and dinosaurs). However I love any and all facts about animals and natural science so tell me everything you know!


Aside from my work as a therapist, one of my proudest achievements is previously working as a Britney Spears impersonator in Chicago.

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Personal Philosophy & Commitment


While my education and working experiences have provided me with relevant and necessary concepts and guidelines around mental health, I am acutely aware how higher education and training within the mental health field predominantly touts Westernized ideas of wellness and healing as superior, and considered as "best practice". The architecture of the mental health industry has historically been, and in many ways continues to be, primarily structured around the experiences and interests of White, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied people.


At the same time, many popular mental health concepts, such as mindfulness, radical acceptance, and somatic healing, have been co-opted from Indigenous and Eastern healing practices, which are frequently dismissed within the scientific community. White mental health professionals benefit from and profit from these practices, all while simultaneously disregarding the mental wellness of the very communities these ideas were stolen from.


Western mental health also places an emphasis on individual pathology without adequate acknowledgment of the oppressive systems in place (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism) that are the root cause of immeasurable violence, suffering, and longstanding intergenerational and ongoing trauma. Consequently, the inevitable, proportionate feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, shame, fear, and inadequacy are then identified as "symptoms" to be fixed. The numbness, escapism, and bitterness that arise as our best efforts to soothe and protect us from these feelings are penalized and judged as character flaws of incompetence, laziness, and irresponsibility. So much of our self-resentment stems from the shame we have learned to place on our desperate attempts to survive in a world that makes it impossible to feel as though we are enough, that we are safe, and that we are important.


All of this considered, it's no surprise that the very systems and professionals who are meant to provide care and healing can paradoxically perpetuate more harm by upholding the very oppressive systems that many are seeking reprieve from. This is especially true for BIPOC, transgender, disabled, poor, fat, and femme-presenting individuals. Skepticism and distrust towards healthcare professionals, (especially White and White-passing healthcare professionals like myself) is warranted and justified. I do not consider my access to higher education or licensure to be a marker of academic or intellectual superiority, and it does not represent inevitable expertise in the lived experiences of others. A hierarchal power dynamic is not therapeutic and I am not interested in magnifying the one that already inherently exists between us. Within this role, your trust is meant to be earned, not expected or entitled. It is not your job to assume safety with me, it is my job to create it with you.


Becoming a better therapist requires me to practice intentional discernment and, oftentimes, unlearning of many of the concepts that were taught to me. While I continue to consult research and clinical evidence to inform my work, I do so using an intersectional lens, while prioritizing the lived experiences, choices, and autonomy of the clients and communities I serve. It is both my professional and personal lifelong commitment to continuously examine my positions of privilege and proximity to power; actively identify ways to reduce my personal contributions to oppression; and continue to seek out, listen to, and prioritize the wisdom that is inherent to lived experiences.

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Therapeutic

Specializations

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Rebuilding Trust with Emotions

Like looking through a kaleidoscope, our emotional perceptions transform our viewpoint of the world into a multifaceted, synthesized, and completely unique reflection of our lived experiences, values, and belief systems about ourselves and others. Emotions are our bodies' natural and essential way of helping us navigate and make sense of the world. This is true for all of our emotions, even the ones we work hardest to avoid, like anxiety, sadness, shame, and anger.


Many people seek out therapy to find more effective ways to silence or suppress their difficult emotions, viewing the presence of them as a problem to be fixed. Some coping tools can be useful for this. Others may feel frustrated and confused as to why, despite their best efforts, these painful feelings and beliefs persist - even if they contradict their true values and intuition. While we may learn some strategies to ground, reconnect, and reestablish safety within our bodies, my therapeutic approach does not center around how to better ignore, avoid, suppress, dismiss, or challenge, your emotions. But I can offer an alternative.


What could it look like to live harmoniously and collaboratively with every part of you instead of fighting an endless battle against yourself? What could it look like to allow your emotions to consult and inform you, instead of overwhelm and control you? What if the very feelings that you have been running from hold meaningful wisdom and insight into what needs your attention, what needs healing, and what truly matters to you? Collaboratively, we can create a space where all parts of you, even the parts you are desperate to hide, are unconditionally welcome. I find that we can learn more about ourselves when we drop resistance, extend curiosity towards all emotions, and offer compassion for the parts of you that have been carrying shame, doubt, and fear for far too long. Transforming your relationship to your emotions can give you the opportunity to reconnect to the bravery, creativity, playfulness, and wisdom within you that were always meant to lead the way.

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Trauma

When you experience acute (brief in time and lengthy in impact), or complex (recurring and/or continuous) trauma, your brain and body miraculously mobilize to build defenses that allow you to survive. It is important to acknowledge that, at one point in time (or perhaps over the course of several years), these strategies were essential and effective in keeping you safe during a time when you needed, but did not receive, the protection you deserved. However, these same strategies may now be obstructing your ability to access a sense of peace, connectedness, and trust within yourself and the world around you.


At the same time, we live in a world where our access to safety and life-saving resources is contingent on our productivity, bodies, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and health. It is inherently traumatizing to simply exist among these powerfully, violent systems; this is particularly true for marginalized populations. Therefore, your emotional reactivities and methods of coping may very well be proportionate and relevant in helping you navigate what is a very real and harmful reality.


Together we can discern between the strategies that might still link to historical trauma versus those that are necessary in helping you survive today. Removing shame and offering respect for these strategies is a crucial first step towards reclaiming your right to self-advocacy, rediscovering joy and playfulness, and reconnecting to a more accurate sense of safety within your communities, relationships, and within yourself.

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Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Caregivers

As children, the adults who are meant to care for and protect us, are our very first models from which we base our understanding of ourselves, other people, and the world in general. This is why abuse, neglect, betrayal, dismissiveness, absence, or any type of disconnectedness from our parents or caregivers can be particularly damaging to our sense of self-worth, our capacity for vulnerability, and our willingness to trust others. If your basic, physical or financial needs were otherwise met, you might feel more confused, guilty, or undeserving of naming this pain. Regardless of your environmental circumstances, emotional intimacy from our caregivers is a necessary and irreplaceable, type of safety and care that is crucial to our development, and yet so very commonly absent from families.


Your caregivers’ inability to create emotional safety for you is likely tied to a longstanding, historical cycle of pain that did not begin with you. However, you are not doomed to continue perpetuating these painful, cyclical patterns - you have the power to break this spell. You can learn to cultivate the patience, nurturance, safety, and acceptance that you so desperately deserved then, and still do today. Feeling resentful or daunted by the responsibility of breaking intergenerational trauma is more than understandable and justified. There is space to both honor these feelings, while still refusing to remain bound by a storyline that is now yours to reclaim and redirect. Within the space between acceptance for what is and curiosity for what is possible, there is hope.

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Gender & Sexual Identity

I am here to bear witness to all of who you are with unconditional acceptance and care. Whether queerness has been a longstanding integration in your identity, a new realization, or if you are beginning to question your gender or sexuality for the first time, I offer our therapeutic space as a container to freely express, explore, grieve, and rejoice in all of the expansiveness within you. As an openly queer-identified person myself, I offer support and solidarity from my own lived experiences, and humility for communities with diverging identities from my own.


It is deeply painful, and even traumatizing, to live in a heteronormative, transphobic society that actively seeks to invalidate and eradicate our existence. It is especially painful when our own families are indoctrinated with the same harmful rhetoric that prevents them from fully seeing and accepting us. Understandably, sometimes rejecting ourselves can feel safer than facing rejection or violence from others. Following your lead, I can hold a place of hope and curiosity where we can explore ways to reclaim both your safety and right to be radically visible - even if only to yourself. Safety begins with trust, and it is difficult to ever feel truly safe if you have been taught that you cannot trust, respect, or love yourself. Amongst the storm we can create our own refuge both within your communities and within the wonderful vastness of you.

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Neurodivergence (ADHD/Autism*)

As a neurodivergent person myself (ADHD-diagnosed), I understand how differences in communicating, connecting, thinking, functioning, and regulating can lead to pervasive feelings of defectiveness, isolation, and shame. It took a long time before I learned that my struggles had less to do with my differences and more to do with living in a world that considers any deviation from the norm to be a shameful defect rather than a benign human difference to be accepted and accommodated. The path to self-acceptance begins when we start questioning society’s neuronormative expectations, and start identifying the gaps between what we’ve been told we should be and how we’d actually like to be.


Whether you are formally diagnosed, self-diagnosed, or are exploring your alignment with this identity, you have my unconditional affirmation and permission to show up freely and comfortably without any expectations to adhere to uncomfortable “normative” conventions. For instance, I do not require eye-contact and I encourage open stimming, fidgeting, or any other self-regulating behaviors that make you feel most like yourself. Together we can foster positive self-identity and self-acceptance by reframing expectations, embracing your way of functioning, and, if desired, finding ways to self-advocate for accommodations.

*I am not able to provide formal diagnostic assessments for ADHD or Autism. These assessments must be administered by a psychologist (PhD(. However, I can support you in seeking one out should that be something you’d like to pursue

*I would like to acknowledge that the “neurodivergence” umbrella does not solely describe the Autistic and ADHD experience. It includes many other neurological differences, including but not limited to, schizophrenia, personality disorders, Bipolar disorder, etc. My specialization in neurodivergence specifically refers to folks with ADHD and Autism.

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Contact

Think we're a good match? Please fill out the inquiry form at the bottom of the page. You'll provide some info about yourself, what your hopes are for therapy, which times listed below work best for you. I will respond to you within 48 business hours. If we are a good fit, we can schedule a free, 15-min consultation call from there!

current availability:

UPDATED 5/14/24:


Thursdays at 9AM-9:53AM EST or 3PM-3:53PM EST


If these day(s)/time(s) don’t work, but you’d still like to fill out an inquiry form, you will be placed on a waitlist and notified if/when your available days/times become available! :)

If none of the times you see listed here work for you, feel free to check back monthly. I update this availability whenever new spots become available or when spots have been taken. You can also refer to my resources page to see a list of other therapists and care providers who might also be a great fit.

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Resources

Below is a non-exhaustive and ever-growing list of service providers and resources that are vetted by myself or other community members, or have been recommended via other resource guides created by trans or queer-led organizations.


If you would like to recommend yourself or another service-provider u believe should be included on this list, OR if you see a resource that you believe should not be included on this list, please contact me at contact@allisonleonardlcsw.com


Many resources included in this list were pulled from the following guides that were meticulously curated by local organizations including:


The Essentials: Atlanta Trans Resource Guide created by SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW



Jump To:

UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

Crisis Resources

National Resources:


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7):

Dial 988 OR 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


Crisis Textline (24/7):

(Text HOME to 741741


Trans Lifeline (24/7)

1-877-565-8860

www.translifeline.org


Trevor Project: Crisis Line for LGBTQ Youth (24/7)

1-888-488-7386

www.thetrevorproject.org


Local (Metro Atlanta) Resources:


Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative (PAD INITIATIVE)

Hours: M-F, 7AM-7PM

Call 311 (City of Atlanta) for non-emergency services for mental health, substance use, or extreme poverty within Atlanta. A response team may be dispatched to the area to provide assistance

  • if located OTP (outside the perimeter of Atlanta), call (404) 546-0311


Peachford Hospital (24/7)

770-455-3200

Provides direct admissions;

Only Atlanta-based inpatient facility with dedicated training and resources for trans needs (will allow you to wear binders, bring hormones and syringes if you can provide a copy of your prescription)




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I want to work together!

Where do I start?

Yay! I can't wait to meet you!


Click here to fill our an inquiry form where you'll tell me a little bit more about yourself, what your hopes are for therapy, and whether or not our schedules align.


You'll hear back from me within 48 business hours, and if we're a good match, we can schedule a free 15-min consultation call, or move forward with scheduling an intake session!


Please make sure to double check whether any of my listed available slots work for your schedule before completing the form! The available days/times are listed on my contact page



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Fees & Insurance

I am currently credentialed with the following insurance plans:


  • Aetna
  • Cigna
  • UnitedHealthcare

(including UHC Student Resources)

  • Several plans under “Optum” including:
    • Oscar
    • Harvard Pilgrim
    • Oxford
    • UMR
    • All Savers (UHC)
    • Health Plans Inc
    • Surest (Formerly Bind)


Self-Pay fee:

  • $140 - Individual Therapy Session (45-55 minutes)
  • $150 - Initial Intake Session (60 minutes)


Sliding Scale: a limited number of sliding scale spots are available to folks with limited financial resources.

BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals are given priority.


Check my contact page to check for current sliding scale availability


Please visit my resource page to find referrals for other sliding scale therapists!


Don't see your insurance? You may be eligible to receive partial or full reimbursement from your insurance plan if your insurance is out-of-network. Click here to learn more!


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What if you don't take my insurance?

Many insurance plans provide partial (and sometimes full!) coverage for out-of-network (OON) providers.


You would be responsible for paying the full self-pay fee ($140) at the time of our session. I would then provide you with a ""superbill," or invoice of our sessions for you to submit to your insurance company. If your claim is approved, you will then receive partial or full reimbursement, depending on your plan.


Be sure to contact your insurance provider before our first session to verify your coverage. Here are some questions that might be helpful:


  • What are my “out-of-network” outpatient mental health insurance benefits?


  • What is my deductible and how much of it have I met?


  • Is it possible to meet with a provider that I choose and submit receipts for reimbursement?


  • What is the process for seeking reimbursement?


  • Are there any limitations on how many services a year that will be covered?


  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session (CPT codes: 90837 (55 min) or 90834 (45 min))?


  • How long will it take to get my reimbursement?


  • Do I need a referral from a primary care physician?


  • Do my benefits cover telehealth services (online counseling?





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Where are you located?

I am based in Atlanta, Georgia, but I am licensed in both Georgia and Illinois.


At this time, I am only offering virtual sessions for Georgia-based clients.

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Who do you

work with?

I provide individual psychotherapy for adults 18+


I do not currently provide services to youth under 18,

and I do not provide couples or family counseling.


If you are looking for services outside of my scope, please refer to my resource page for trusted referrals

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Can you prescribe medication?

Unfortunately, I cannot prescribe medication; only medically licensed health providers, like psychiatrists, can prescribe medications.


Please refer to my resources page for a list of trusted psychiatrists and other medical healthcare providers!