Khara Fuentes, LMFT
Hello! I'm Khara Fuentes a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (in Arizona lic. 15198 and California Lic 49544) and the owner of Centre for Middle Ground, LLC. I'm often accompanied by Tino, my pint-sized companion and co-therapist.
I started Centre for Middle Ground, LLC for adolescent girls, emerging women (ages 22-40 something) and couples. I'm always asked "why those populations?" Well here is why:
I love middle/high school aged girls. Adolescence is a time of growth and self-discovery. She begins to learn who she is and gains an awareness of how her environment has shaped her, while also learning how she can begin to influence it. She's powerful and fabulous, she just doesn't see it yet and I love to be part of her team to help her her recognize it!
'Emerging Women' is a term I use to describe women ages 22-40 something. Many women delayed entering the work force because they started or finished their education later than women in years past. These women are learning who they are as working, independent women, as mothers, business owners, wives, sisters, and a friend while trying to manage the day-to-day stressors. This brings a new stage of self-discovery and a re-evaluation of self-worth. Coming along side another women to be a support and source of encouragement is powerful and can be life changing.
So now you're probably thinking, "well, that's all fine and dandy, but how do "couples" fit in this mix?"
We are a product, among other factors, of our parents, the couples. Our relationships with our parents, or lack thereof, shapes us for better or worse. My hope is to reach as many couples as possible to help them create their best, most loving, healthy relationship for their benefit (and that of their children).
So now that you know why I work with the clients I work with, the next question I'm asked is "How did your practice get it's name?"
The summer before I started my masters degree in marriage and family therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, I began exchanging emails with a prospective roommate. We knew nothing about one another prior to our commitment to move in together, but somehow I had peace with the plan. After all, it was supposed to be a quick couple of years. Long story short, we bonded over our stresses with school, faith, shared meals and late night girl talks. She would talk about her blog. It was about her life journey and how it resembled a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other always aiming for the middle. This got me thinking....can our relationships be like that too, swinging from one extreme to the other?
One minute we say, "Come here, Love."
While the next minute we may be screaming.... "NO! Go away!"
Yep. Yep, relationship can be extreme, but they don't have to be. My journey in grad school and the model relationships around me taught me that we can find balance, a 'middle ground'. There's no need to swing from one extreme to the other, unless that's we WANT. Centre for Middle Ground is about helping my clients find emotional stability and the 'middle ground' of their life, love and relationships.
So why do you bring your dog to work?
Research shows that dogs can reduce heart rate, stress, elevate mood through increasing dopamine and serotonin. Dogs are also known to reduce anxiety. When faced with a stressful situation, research also shows, that people perform better in the presence of a dog. Seems like a good confidence booster to me!
Tino also helps motivate the occasional young, resistant, teenage girl to actually start counseling when she wouldn't otherwise be open to the process. I have found she will come to see Tino. This allows me to begin building rapport and to start the therapy process.
Not only can Tino have a positive impact in these ways, sometimes he's used for intervention and for children and teens to practice skills learned in the counseling. When older children and teens are practicing boundaries, or other skills learned with a dog, it helps build confidence when you know the response is unconditional love and positive regard, the response Tino gives.
Tino is a 4 year old, Mi-Ki, pronounced me-key. Yes, that's his breed. Mi-Ki means 'new beginnings.' He is a trained therapy dog and is often seen in the counseling room. He's been in private practice since 2014 and prior to moving to Phoenix, worked at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (Can you find him in the video clip below?). He's also volunteered at places like LAX, Aetna and St. Joe's Banner Hospital. Needless to say, he's got tons of experience bringing smiles to his client's faces and he's ready to meet you!