Podcast: Interview with Lorena Cucalon


Lindsey interviews Wellspring therapist Lorena Cucalon about her life and years of experience in the mental heath field.


Host: Lindsey Steffen, LMHC
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Guest: Lorena Cucalon, RMHC
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Speaker 2: (00:42)
hi there. I'm Lindsay Stephan, a licensed mental health counselor at wellspring and cohost for wellspring on the air today. I'm excited to talk with Lorena Cucalon, one of our wellspring therapists. So Hi Lorena. How are you? Hi, how are you? Lindsey? Thank you for having me here. Yes, of course. So we're going to talk with Lorena today and just interview her a little bit about her life and her clinical experience. So why don't you start off and just tell us a little bit about yourself. Well, let's begin with my career. Okay. Yes. When I was around 19 years old, I decided to become a clinical psychologist in my country. I worked there for 12 years. I had a lot of experience but in 2001 I had to move to the United States and my degree didn't work here. So yes, but then I found out about Trinity International University that they had did this a faith based program and I wanted to explore that area too.

Speaker 2: (01:36)
So I put both into work, faith and counseling and I pursue that master's degree here and it was an amazing experience, a different kind and I had to adopt what I knew from then to this new environment population and yes, it was awesome. It was a very nice experience. So you've had very diverse experiences, unique experiences. Yes. Career wise, I started working with children that had special needs, ADHD, dyslexia, Down's syndrome back then because I graduated, you know like 30 years ago. So back then we didn't know that much about autism or Asperger's syndrome. So I work with them. I explored the education a field that was related to Dan but also the emotional side of it. And I developed a program of inclusion into schools that we did not have black lands cause I'm sure now that's a very a normal popular thing in our schools.

Speaker 2: (02:40)
And all the kids have their kind of their set up. But yeah. So you kind of helped start some of that back when it wasn't so common. It was not. And then after that I realized I had to start working with the parents, very close, educated into parents have, I would not just um, a specific, let's say need of their child, but also about how to just embrace and enjoy who they are and not know what they want them to become. And I started working very close with parents. That's awesome. Yes. I talk with a lot of my parents because I see kids and adolescents as well and often they just exactly like you're saying, they don't know how to deal with the unique challenges because that doesn't come in your parenting handbook, you know, if you have a child with special needs or different mental health diagnoses.

Speaker 2: (03:26)
So all yes, I do respect them a lot because they have to be more aware than we usually are about certain things. So it was, it was an honor seriously working with them for about 12 years. I, it was very successful that program. So after that, um, that was like my baby program, I put a lot of effort into it because we did not have Internet access. So I had to do everything, research, you know, called to this pain or different countries that had better resources than I did and received the books and train myself, train all the people. So I dedicated a lot of time into it. But then I realized that it was so important to educated parents, but every parent, because we need to help them to help me as well because I'm a mother as well, to be aware of who we are and what stories we bring into the table that we did not allowed us to enjoy.

Speaker 2: (04:19)
Just the being of that person that is with us, not want them to be calm or do or be that just enjoy. I hear you talking about expectations. Maybe just letting your children be who they are and molding them and guiding them, but really embracing, okay, this unique personality or this need they have. It doesn't have to change. We don't have to compare them to, you know, little Tommy down the street and say, why aren't you more like him? Exactly. Or to any expectations that you have about yourself or them that you think family must be something that it doesn't have to be that ways it becomes more easier and enjoyable. And after let's say seven years of working with parents, you know, women start coming to me to ask me, you know, how to relate better with their husbands and you know, that they already knew how to he and they'll do it with their children.

Speaker 2: (05:12)
And suddenly I started doing something that I was not expecting. I'm seeing couples. Yeah. I was not expecting, I was kind of reluctant at the beginning because I was single mother. So I got divorced when I was very young and I was like, yeah, I'm not, I don't have the, I, I did not qualify myself to do that. But I think, you know, sometimes the, if the opportunity's there, and when I saw the healing of this, you know, people, I, it, it was so beautiful for me. It was like a gift to me, not to them actually that, you know, I did it. I did it for a while. I love that. Yeah. I feel like that happens in the field. You go into things, the things that you said, I'll never do this or I don't want to do this. And all of a sudden you're like, Whoa, here I am.

Speaker 2: (05:56)
Oh yes. And after that I moved here, okay. Stage and I decided to start all over again with children, you know, as special leads. I relate myself to that because I grew up being a hyperactive child and I think my, you know, my parents were like, why don't we do it with this child? You know, and you grew up in Ecuador or South America, so thank goodness that I had very good parents and you know, very good education as well. Okay. Study at a Catholic school. They were very patient, but I was hyperactive. Every sport, everything. You know, even when they didn't call me, I was there and everything and endless energy. Yes. Which is probably a blessing and a curse. It is. It is. Because I am too. I would say that until I run marathons, you know, I was single mother. I had three jobs.

Speaker 2: (06:51)
I, I study at the same time. But that's, that's it. Like you said, it could be a blessing if you use it in a, in a way that it's productive, but he could be horrible if you, we can destroy you. So I can empathize very well with people, you know, with children's the, I want them to feel accepted that unique, special, but not as patient needs. You don't need something, you are enough. Okay. So I wanted them to feel that way. So I decided to start working on that here again because here's some of the private schools, I realized that they are so into grades and to be successful because you are so and so that they forget that child itself. So I see that a lot working with my teens. Most of them come for anxiety related to academic success. And it's funny. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (07:43)
I feel like it's changed where now that is such a pressure or when they get older and they're doing the college applications, even from when I went to college, it's so different. You just applied to a couple of schools. You went somewhere, now they apply 10 20 schools there. A lot of pressure. Yeah. So, yeah. So I wanted to, I started working with young children because I think, uh, the younger you start the better because you feel confident about yourself. It doesn't matter what, you know, I tried to teach them, it doesn't matter what the teacher says, oh how your parents see you, you know, that so they can feel confident enough to say, okay, she says my dad way, but it's okay. You know, it's not, it's what you are saying about me. It's, it doesn't define me. That's what I like to teach children.

Speaker 2: (08:27)
But then, um, you know, the, the um, field opened a little bit more for me and I started working again with parents and women and yes. And here I am so well rounded. That's awesome though. You really, you've experienced most of the different facets of mental health counseling. So you could see really any client at this point, which is crazy. As a not a, I failed that. I haven't given such great opportunity to teach myself to, uh, not just in the scientific world, but also with the faith as well, that I can put them well together. And this is not that I have reached something greater than anybody's, just that it's a, as something that I'm being given the opportunity to do. And I took it, I did work a lot on myself as well. Um, so people can see what you know, you can do and, and you know, with both at hands so they can desire a little bit of what you have.

Speaker 2: (09:26)
That's what I always told my clients who are Christian. Chris, probably half my caseload is Christian, half are not believers. And we can talk about that freely here on the Christian radio. But I tell men who are Christians that it's like they have a super power. Yes, we do know when they're healing the Holy Spirit. I just see that the, I guess if you look at it from kind of a success rate or being productive, I just find that their healing process comes much more quickly. I've noticed and I've just, that's just observing from clinical experience and yeah, I think really God put me into the field and with both at the same time because, um, he reached me when I was 17 and I thought, okay, I don't know what I'm going to do with my life. I thought I did everything until then because I read since I was four, nobody told me how to do these.

Speaker 2: (10:15)
I was into classical music, sports, everything, you know, I enjoy a beautiful life, but I was overwhelmed with all this knowledge and I didn't know what to do. It was only 16. So I was, I remember being in a little chapel praying, like, show me the way, you know, what is, is like I have this, all these things in my mind and I didn't know how to handle that. Didn't have the direction, what to do with it. So he really spoke into my life and he literally, because I've never read before that day that Jesus said I am the truth away in the life. And I was asking for the way since he told me I am the way. And I thought, okay, if you are, I'm taking this as a pretty clear answer cause I was so into research and studying, even though by myself I started studying the Bible of course and that's how it happened and then right after I went into the field.

Speaker 2: (11:07)
Okay, so it sounds like you very much value education or like to keep educating yourself as what I hear all the time. Yes. I'm mean to positive psychology as well because I like people to see, you know, because usually people have these idea of going into mental health counseling. Like I'm going to the doctor because I am sick and usually you didn't go to the doctor because you're sick. I go to doctor every year and two different kinds of doctors just to confirm that I'm healthy and what else can I do to improve my, yes, my state right now. How am I feeling? Also, you know, I explore dieting or exercise different things, not because I am sick by, because I want to keep myself healthy and become better. Right. Also in our field, in counseling, you can go and ask for it because that takes a little bit, a lot I would say of humility to ask for help and see, you know, and you know what, this area of my life, I'm not trusting that well or I'm not improving in finances.

Speaker 2: (12:09)
I don't know what to do with this. You know, what are the blocking stones that are not allowing me to move forward in my life or you know, relationships or jobs or anything. You know, sometimes we need help. Somebody who can guide us with questions, how to ask better questions for our self. So I love that. Yeah. And as I hear you talking, I just think of getting to go somewhere just to grow in self awareness. That's valuable enough to go. Cause I think, you know, people think, oh well maybe I haven't been abused or neglected. You know, I don't, counseling is not for me. I don't have an addiction. And I tell my friends who, and I've convinced probably all of them to go to counseling at this point. I'm not annoying therapist friend, but I say just go and told them that, hey, I'm just coming cause I've never gone.

Speaker 2: (12:55)
And I'd like to kind of know myself more and grow and self awareness and how out of that I've always heard back from them. Such fruit and the more aware you are of yourself and the little things that you didn't know when you get to know yourself through that. Yeah, it's so beautiful. It you become conscious also the way you're treating people. You relate to people, you know you start flourishing and why not give you that gift of flourishing. And I remember if I can say something, first of all, I remember taking both of my daughters. They, you know, they are amazing. They are 26 and 27 professionals practice and a boyfriend. Everything looked like beautiful. Right? And then I told them, yeah we need to go and, and you know has finalization. We have never done that before that. And we did. And, and suddenly it happens at the younger one.

Speaker 2: (13:48)
You know, she started crying in the middle of the station saying, Oh yeah, sometimes I feel between these two ladies, you know, we allow wow about that after. But she never said that before. Like, you know, I feel like I've been trying to deal with both because we are very strong women. She's the peacemaker in the middle and smart, creative and talented. But she felt like she needed to keep the balance. And I don't know, you didn't have that responsibility. You can tell this so that simply it's, it's worth going into session just to say things that you were not a word before and just creating that space to even realize maybe you feel that way because she, maybe she had the thought, but it was just a passing thought and you guys were completely unaware. Oh, you feel that dynamic in the family. She is so precious that we don't want her to feel overwhelmed with that.

Speaker 2: (14:41)
So why would one, you know, and they was just a session in. That's awesome losses. Those experiences are great. You can tell them, okay, so do you kind of see growing up in your childhood? And to your adolescence, did you always feel drawn to helping people or always? Always. Always, always. I was like, well that was growing up Catholic and in elementary school I remember in every year we had to go into missions, into different places in our same CDN country. So I had to be there. I had to be doing, even if they didn't ask me to, you know, and then people would ask me for help for different, you know, things in, we met a lot of missionaries in my country back then. My parents, my family was also into social justice. I would say. My father was a very well known attorney and he was always working towards benefit of people.

Speaker 2: (15:37)
My mother also, she wasn't to the poor. And so I grew up also with that into me and I started helping people, um, orphan, a jazz, you name it, you name it, adoption centers. I went to volunteer everywhere because I was hyperactive and willing to help. That's great. You are channeling your energy into good. Right? And that's why I think one of the reasons that our a, I decided to involve myself even more into, into helping people. It's because I know that if you do not have, because really God was great with me, right? Yeah. He protected you. He has the Indian Dad. Yeah. My entire life. So for some reason that I didn't know know, I know his love, right? He is love that he doesn't have love, but he overwhelms me with love because I see that protection in every little area of my life.

Speaker 2: (16:37)
Because when you are surrounded by negative people, because that also happened to me, but you still have this protection that you feel, no, no, no. I cannot be trade this beautiful protection that he has given me. So I decided to use my energy into other things. Beautiful things said like we can offer you. And it's not about not suffering because we will all suffer. That's unavoidable. It is life. It's a fact of life. It's about how you can handle or manage that instead of dwelling into that, you know, painting. Say, okay, well we're going to take a short break. I'm Lindsay Stephan with wellspring on the air. Wellspring now offers professional Christian counseling at six locations in Dade County. Therapists are now taking clients at new locations, one at crossbridge Miami springs and keep escaping for more information. (786) 573-7010 or wellspring miami.org for more information. Oh right.

Speaker 2: (17:41)
And we're back with wellspring on the air. I'm Lindsay and I'm here with Loraina and we're talking today just about some of her life and clinical. She's one of our mental health counselors at wellspring. Then I'm happy to have her join me on the radio today, so we'll just keep talking a little bit. Maybe we'll, we'll start with what are some of your strengths as a clinician? What have you seen yourself grow in over the years? Basically Nishan well, you have to educate yourself in the mindful of how people do not really change. I mean, we all, I think from the beginning of my career until now, I think we all have the same needs, but as a clinician we need to keep up educating ourselves on the way we communicate towards what they need. And also always be aware that it's not my goal as a clinician how you are supposed to be but your goal, where do you want to go?

Speaker 2: (18:38)
I can help you where you want to go. I can now be aware of what you want to be aware. Yeah, I can make you aware of things that I see exactly. I just can help you to ask better questions about yourself and if you ask the questions, do you have the answers? I just guide you so I hear you meeting them where they're at. Cause you're right, we do this even with our families, right? You see all the things everyone needs to work on but that's never well-received. So even clinically you have to kind of guard that. Okay, I'm here to support you with what you want to work on. I know also at the beginning of my career I used to see a lot of the mental illness or you know the need of people to to heal. But then I realize we, we are unique and we have been created in a way that we are looking for healing all the time.

Speaker 2: (19:29)
You can heal yourself. And sometimes we do need help outside of ourself. Of course you can heal yourself. How do you manage your emotions? How you know, the thinking pattern, what your beliefs are, dull things that you can address before changing deeper things. So yes, to go by layer, by layer, by layer. Yeah. Let's not go solve these problems that we have in a family in a no, no dad way. So first let's learn to communicate and then we can talk about those deeper problems little by little and be patient's very patient because each person has a different way of healing. So kind of you have to, it's such a simple quote, but I always think respect the process. And I remind myself that with, for myself, my family friends, and especially with clients, because you're right, sometimes as a clinician you have the anxiety for them to get better.

Speaker 2: (20:26)
You want them to really flourish. Yeah. But it really, you have to, you know, do your own work so you're not being controlling or whatever and let them be in their process. Exactly. Yes. And also while the learning process for us never ends, I think with any other career like medicine or you have to aware that what's going on outside in the world around us. You know, all other tools. I do believe now more than any time in my life that would you choose to eat really impacts the way you feel and sometimes even the way you behave. So because on 2006 I decided to kill myself. I suffer from Migraines, severe migraines. And I went into a doctor who was a specialized and you just food and he taught me how to eat better and never again. I had a migrant until now. No Way. I, I left a diet. Of course it took me six months to heal and after that, um, I just know how to eat and then I studied more and more. And you know, food stat can make you not lose your memory as much when you are growing older because I'm over 50 so,

Speaker 3: (21:39)
okay, so you wouldn't know radio. I know you can't see your bud

Speaker 2: (21:43)
52 so yeah, I have to, you know, I learn how to deal with my aging process as well and how to not lose that much strength and keep myself healthy because whatever you try to teach, you first have to learn yourself. So he has, and I, that's something that I'm using now a lot with parents, you know, the choose wisely water you eating. Like why are you thinking, what are you listening to?

Speaker 3: (22:11)
You know, it's, yeah, just the environmental factors that really play into the physical and emotional wellbeing. Yeah. Yeah. That's, so I hear very much a holistic approach from you that you consider those factors. And I think it's true cause you know, your kids, if they have sugar, if they have these things, you know, they behave differently. All the parents listening, right?

Speaker 2: (22:31)
They have too much fun during the day. For example, they will have a headache. Um, uh, you know, they will feel uncomfortable, cranky and you don't know even, you know why if you had the ice cream, you already had this. You had, yeah. It's because it's too much. The combination is too much, so then the body doesn't know how to handle it and I have to give them a break too.

Speaker 3: (22:51)
Yes, it's true. And that's hard because it's hard to say no to those things, but, but it's, yeah, you see the benefit once you've done it for a bit and you see

Speaker 2: (23:00)
you cannot just little a changes that it doesn't have to be drastic. Like people usually tell me, Oh yes, I'm in a diet, I'm doing it. Oh maybe you can have a bowl of grapes instead of ice cream for an afternoon or a bowl of, you know, little pieces of apples, you know, that they can use to get used to the taste as well. And not just to learn to enjoy it as now that I'm going to take away days and give you this and because it's healthy, it's not about the rule, it's about she's just to make it natural. And you know, it's because I love you. It's because everything that we do, if we do it out of love, it comes out natural and good.

Speaker 3: (23:35)
Yeah, that's a good strategy. I like that. Well now that you're seeing clients at wellspring with us, what kind of clients do you kind of hope to build into your case

Speaker 2: (23:46)
load and who are you seeing now? Well, I usually start with children. Children. Yeah. Your specialty. Yes. And then women come to me and they tell me, no, so, so good and you made me aware of these or dad and so I want to work on, because I try to create a desire on the others to to be better and to not necessarily as we said before to heal, but just to be aware and conscious of the kind of person that I am and how I am impacting my husband or my children or the people that I love. And that's great. I hear a lot of identity work, knowing who you are and how you affect other people in your life is and how valuable and how good enough you are and we're, wherever you are at right now, you can only go higher if you choose to.

Speaker 2: (24:37)
Okay. Very good. Well, any last thoughts we're about to wrap up. Anything else you'd like to share with our audience about yourself or your work? Well, no, I, here I am just to help you if you are facing any challenges, if you think you have a goal to reach or if life can be overwhelming sometimes and, and we all need somebody. So reach out, reach out for help because we are there to help. Yeah. Okay. Very good. And maybe I'll ask just one last question. So as a clinician who incorporates your faith, do you see both Christian and non Christian clients all? Yes I do. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I love to do both because of with a Christian client we can start from both mental and the faith base. Right. But with the others, I love the challenge because I always held them a little bit if they are willing to explore a spirituality and then they, you know, God will meet people wherever they are and we are not got are just to, you know, hand by hand, move forward into that. You're his tool. I love it. Okay, well thanks so much for being with us today. Thank you for having me. So we're going to go ahead and close. I'm Lindsay Stefan with wellspring on the air because hearts and minds matter