Hello! My name is Melissa Donadio, and my education and professional experiences can found on the “Education" page of this website. While that information is important, I believe it is more pertinent to explain who I am and my approach to psychological services. I, like most mental health professionals, entered the field with a desire to change the world by helping individuals and communities improve their mental health. However, while in graduate school, I noticed a disconnect between the psychological theories and interventions I was taught and the lived experiences of both myself and those I served.
When providing therapy and using techniques that I was taught would improve individuals' mental health, it became clear that these methods did not usually work. In some cases, they made individuals’ mental health worse. This is because traditional, Western ideas of psychology blame the individual for any mental health challenges they face and do not take into account the history of these ideas and where they came from or the larger context in which individuals exist.
Therefore, my observation of traditional Western psychological approaches led me to study Critical and Liberation psychology. According to the Society for Community Research and Action, Liberation psychology challenges traditional Western‑based psychology by offering an emancipatory approach to understanding and addressing oppression among individuals and groups. In other words, liberation psychology strives to understand how privilege, power, and oppression are experienced and expressed through one's mental state. By using this approach, I examine the societal context in which people exist. Moreover, I assist those I serve in identifying these contexts and help them make connections between their lived experiences and their mental well-being.
Everyone I serve is unique and therefore have different, individualized goals. However, a main focus of my work is helping people to identify systems of oppression in which they exist. By doing so, individuals learn to take control and power back over the lives, and thus their mental well-being.