Christine Melendres she/her/siya
Title: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Languages Spoken: English and Tagalog
Affiliations: Sweet Mango Therapy; National Association of Social Worker
Christine R. Melendres (she/her/siya) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder of Sweet Mango Therapy Group. Christine and her family immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when she was 3 years old. She is the eldest granddaughter from both sides of her family, the first to graduate college in the United States, and the only licensed therapist in her family. Christine grew up in Daly City, California and has been involved in community work since the age of 12. Her interest in the mental health field stems from her own immigration experiences and bicultural identity.
Christine helps high-achieving, young professional women of color who struggle with anxiety and trauma find clarity and reclaim their self-worth. Her approach is culturally sensitive, person-centered, trauma-informed and warm. She uses interventions appropriate to your situation. Christine brings with her 10 years of experience working in various clinical settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and a group home for homeless pregnant women in crisis. Christine has helped hundreds of individuals and families in the Bay Area, and has extensive experience facilitating retreats, workshops and national conferences.
FMHI-SF promotes mental health awareness and reduces stigma within the community. It has helped people I serve by increasing access to culturally appropriate services. Everyone has "mental health" and what is important is that we take good care of it just like our physical health. It's important to normalize discussions around mental health in the Filipinx/Filipinx American community because discussing mental health concerns is considered taboo in many Asian cultures. There is also a negative stigma surrounding mental health in our communities. The lack of awareness of resources is also an obstacle to care.
Approach: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Narrative Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Strength Based, Somatic Experiencing, Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy, Other (list additional approaches unlisted below), Brainspotting
Services Offered: Individual, Families
Kate Viernes (she/her)
Title: Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist
Languages Spoken: English
Affiliations: Filipinx in Tech
I was born and raised on Kānaka Maoli land, on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, to my Filipino immigrant dad from the Cagayan/Ilocos region, and my mom who was born in Hawaiʻi and is also of Ilocana descent—I consider myself “2.5-generation.” While my parents’ hard work and sheer luck enabled me to grow up comfortably on the islands, when I was in high school, I began to notice the educational, socioeconomic, and political disparities faced by Filipinos (as well as Native Hawaiian people on their own land), especially when compared with our White and East Asian counterparts. For many years, I struggled with my Filipina identity, and my journey was one filled with confusion, otherness, and shame. Along the way, I sought masters’ degrees in Asian American Studies and Social Welfare, feeling called to find liberation within myself and for the communities I studied and worked with. While I have come a long way, I continue to need to check in with myself frequently to stay on this path—I have found that going to my own personal therapy, along with centering frameworks of decolonization, empowerment, and intergenerational trauma/resilience, are essential components to my lifelong healing journey.
I have provided mental health services in school, clinic, and community settings for the past 8 years. I currently have a private online therapy practice where I enjoy working with Filipinx, Asian Americans, and adolescent/adult children of immigrants on many of the challenges that I myself have faced: anxiety, depression, cultural identity, systemic oppression, and relational and intergenerational conflict and trauma. I have also facilitated workshops and support groups on Filipinx and Asian American mental health, racial trauma and COVID-related distress, and parent wellness. I am excited to have recently begun to offer support on perinatal/maternal mental health issues as well as somatic experiencing/embodiment wellness approaches. I am privileged to live and work from home on occupied Tamien Ohlone land (aka San Jose, CA) with my family and dog. I love spending time outdoors, researching my family genealogy, and singing karaoke when I can (especially in the shower and in the car).
While working for a community mental health agency across the Bay, I learned about FMHI-SF and connected to find community with other Filipinx passionate about mental health who were making a difference in reaching the Filipinx community through culturally-relevant care.
Approaches & Modalities: Empowerment-based, depth-oriented, strength/solution-focused, cultural humility, Internal Family Systems (IFS) and parts work, somatic experience-based
Jeannie Celestial, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Title: Licensed Clinical Psychologist; Trauma Therapist; Coach; Consultant
Languages Spoken: English; Tagalog & Cebuano (basic)
Affiliations: Filipino Mental Health Initiative-Solano County
Jeannie E. Celestial (she/her/hers) is the youngest of two anak/children of settlers from Cavite & Cebu, Philippines on Guam, Chamorro indigenous land. Her family migrated to Northern California (Ohlone Territory) where she was raised (Vallejo). Passionate about holistic health & well-being, Jeannie serves as a Clinical Psychologist, offering psychotherapy including EMDR, Attachment-Focused EMDR, and somatic embodiment for treating traumatic stress. Jeannie was one of the early core members of FMHI-SF and helped establish its sibling organization, Filipinx Mental Health Initiative-Solano (FMHI-Solano). Jeannie is a daughter, sister, wife, and mother on a journey of decolonization and liberation and is honored to support the others on this path.
Jeannie earned her Doctorate in Philosophy in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University with an Emphasis in Clinical Neuropsychology and an Emphasis in Meditation and Psychology. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1990s, where she was active in Pilipino American Alliance, Maganda Magazine, and Kapwa (which she co-founded). Celestial additionally holds a Master of Social Work degree from San Francisco State University.
Approach: EMDR, Attachment-Focused EMDR, Somatic Embodiment, CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Strength-Based, Culturally Responsive Care
Judith Lucia I. Albano, LMFT (she/her)
Title: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; Psychotherapist
Languages Spoken: English, Tagalog (Understands Fluently)
Affiliations: Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Francisco
My journey to licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist began with levels of challenges and healing, creating a passion to share what I have learned through the power of self-compassion and the will to grow. The experience of being raised by Filipino immigrant parents, and navigating through the developmental and cultural challenges within my traditional family context, have led me to develop a strong sense of curiosity toward self-realization. I had the openness and curiosity guiding my way through self-inquiry to reach a level of deeper self-awareness and a sense of purpose in my life. As a result, I have been able to build bridges between my two worlds while maintaining a strong connection to my inner voice.
With my particular upbringing, I came to appreciate there was no better time and opportunity to deepen my understanding of the human psyche, emotion, and body in the context of culture. The three are strongly woven when responding to pleasant or painful experiences. I attended the California Institute of Integral Studies and earned my Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Community Mental Health. On my path to licensure, I have worked with children, adults, and families in community clinics and schools in the Bay Area. Currently, I maintain a private practice in San Mateo, and see individuals from very diverse ethnicities and backgrounds.
My approach in psychotherapy is collaborative and engaged with curiosity and compassion. I bring my curious self into every session with attention to the natural shifts in each individual’s process. I value each shift as a new piece of information to help find the individual’s experience and build on his/her/their strengths to create a more integrated and healthy perspective. I also provide supportive and practical feedback to assist them effectively. Using creativity, I incorporate different techniques that meet the unique needs of each individual. With compassion and non-judgment, this process allows for a greater level of safety and openness, which in turn leads to deeper insight and personal growth that the individuals are committed to obtaining. I use this technique in whatever path of treatment the individual is open to explore.
Mark Roland Arquero Castañeda (They/he/isu/ello)
Title: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Languages Spoken: English/ Spanish/ Ilokano
Affiliations: Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc.
Born in Quezon City to Zenaida Arquero Castañeda of Sta. Teresita, Cagayan and Balbino Martinez Castañeda, Jr of Ilagan, Isabela. Raised in LA area. Graduated from UC Santa Cruz with BA in History (focus on East Asian Women's History). Lived in San Antonio, Texas. Completed MA in Transpersonal Psychology at JFK University, Pleasant Hill. Currently living in San Francisco and working at RAMS for CalWORKS and API Mental Health Collaborative. I work from a post-colonial, spiritual, "Brown Power," strength-based, collective, queer, and feminist perspective. I am assigned to FMHI as the mental health consultant from the RAMS API Mental Health Collaborative.
Approach: Individual therapy, trans personal, holistic therapy: CBT methods, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Expressive Arts Therapy Methods, and Narrative Therapy Methods all utilized
Melissa Villamejor (she/her)
Title: Associate Marriage and Family Therapist
Affiliations: Family Tree Wellness Center
Languages Spoken: English
I believe at our core that we are all capable of living as our most authentic selves. I aim to create a nurturing and safe environment to work alongside you and remind you of who that authentic person is. My approach is warm, accepting, and non-judgmental, where you can bring all of who you are to feel seen, heard, and valued. As a second generation Filipina, I understand the stigma that mental health can hold. I know from firsthand experience, however, the effectiveness that therapy can have as a healing tool when we embrace our vulnerability. In our work together, emotions will be normalized and our healing journey can begin.
Being born and raised in the Bay Area I was fortunate to grow up with others who looked like me. When I entered the field of mental health though, I realized how alone I felt and how little representation there was of people of color, specifically Asian Americans and Filipinos. My hope as a Filipina therapist is to create a voice for our community and hold space for others who look like me to heal and lessen the stigma that mental health may hold. For a long time I never prioritized my mental health and never found it valuable to my well-being until I transitioned to motherhood and had my own struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety. I learned early on that I had to be strong and not burden others with my problems or it would bring shame. It’s so important to normalize mental health and wellbeing in our Filipinx community because it means survival and we need to tend to and heal ourselves in order to fully serve and love those around us.
Michelle Fortunado-Kewin (she/her/siya)
Title: Licensed Clinical Social Worker; Clinical Supervisor
Affiliations: San Francisco Unified School District; University at Buffalo
Languages Spoken: English, Basic Tagalog
Michelle Fortunado-Kewin (she/her/siya) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and works full-time as Clinical Supervisor and Program Coordinator at San Francisco Unified School District’s School Health Programs Department. She is also part-time Field Faculty Advisor (FFA for Smith College School for Social Work. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in in social work (DSW) at the University of Buffalo with a research focus on suicidality with Filipinx-American youth.
I got connected with FMHI-SF through my work at SFUSD with other Filipinx social workers and our work around serving the mental health needs of our students and families. Collaborating with FMHI-SF is an important part of our role as school social workers because they are connected to the community. FMHI-SF supports the community, provides safe spaces (virtually and in-person pre-COVID) for Filipinx to gather, build connections and learn from each other.
Roanne De Guia Samuels (she/her/siya)
Title: Licensed Mental Health Clinician
Languages Spoken: English/Filipino
Affiliations: Member: California Marriage Family Therapist
Roanne is a licensed Psychotherapist Mom of 4. An immigrant twice in America. Roanne has frequented at least 500 Filipino household & counting. She is the author of the book: 5 Pinoy Love Languages & the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally-Responsive Care presented to various organizations including the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities Team. She was the lead clinician for Solano County's Filipino Outreach Project for 5 years. Today she is a psychotherapist in private practice & the blogger creator of kalamansijuice.com She is a lover of Kapeng Barako (straight from Batangas) , a gardener-wanna-be & enjoys belly-laughing with her children.
I'm a clinician that has a practice that revolves around serving Filipinx women/families. In this way, the tone, the treatment modalities, and coaching frameworks used are all geared towards the efficacy of treatment tailored to this population. Outreach work always coincide with quality care provision which is what FMHI-SF is a bridge of. Mental health is health. In the western world, there is a tendency to compartmentalize mind, body and spiritual care. To normalize wellness is to collectively give permission to the ailing/grieving/hurt to receive and seek care.
Robin Castel Navarro (She/her/siya)
Title: Associate Clinical Social Worker
Languages Spoken: English; Basic Tagalog and Bisaya
Affiliations: San Francisco Unified School District; PapaLoDown Agency
Robin Castel Navarro is an Associate Clinical Social Worker with a master’s degree from California State University East Bay. She is deeply connected in the liberation of oppressed people and works to dismantle barriers in providing mental health services. She understands that life can be complex and overwhelming, aiming to support people through some of the challenges they may be facing. She has over five years of experience working with children, youth, adults and families in the mental health field. She values individuals as experts of their own lives and guides them in identifying and coping with their feelings. While collaborating with the individual and applying evidence-based methods, she is able to assist them in reaching their goals.
Robin provides a safe healing space for individuals who may have experienced trauma, abuse, anxiety, depression and oppression. She utilizes a strength-based and culturally responsive approach in her practice, using both internal and external resources. Some tools she uses are Solution Focused Therapy, Brief Narrative Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Mindfulness.
Approach: Strengths-based, Solution Focused Therapy, Brief Narrative Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness
Stacey Porciuncula (He/Him/His)
Title: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychotherapist
Languages Spoken: English, Tagalog, and American Sign Language (Intermediate)
Affiliations: Filipino Mental Health Initiative - San Francisco
I was born and lived in Manila, Philippines up until I was five years old, at which time my mother and I immigrated to San Francisco, California to live with my mother’s side of the family and to search for a better educational and financial future. I grew up and have lived in the South of Market (SOMA) district since 1993. Growing up in SOMA, I had the opportunity to live and acculturate in a community filled with cultural diversity, including many Tagalog-speaking Filipinos, making the transition easier. That being said, I was exposed to challenging aspects of life very early on including drugs, mental health issues, homelessness, prostitution, violence, gangs, poverty (financial and psychological), and disparities. This exposure combined with being raised by a single mother and having a younger brother with a disability (deafness), made me keenly aware of privileges, power, and oppression and instilled values such as respect, openness, curiosity, acceptance, kindness, social justice, community service, grit, perseverance, and dreams.
In my work with others in individual psychotherapy, I use a multicultural, strengths-based, and empowerment approach to recognize and celebrate intersecting identities and to uplift. I also use Acceptance Commitment Therapy to explore what can and cannot be changed and to clarify personal values to live a life with more purpose and vitality. My clinical experience includes working with adolescents, adults, older adults. I have done individual therapy, parent counseling, consultations, and trainings, but my love in the work lies in individual therapy with adults dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and acculturation. When I’m not working, I enjoy watching and playing baseball on the Switch, drinking copious amounts of coffee (of course during work as well), eating delicious vegan food (proud vegan since June 2019) hiking, and connecting with my partner, family, and friends.
Services Offered: Individual psychotherapy (online-only) for adults
Alexis A. David, LCSW (She/her/siya)
Title: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Languages Spoken: English
Affiliations: Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Francisco; Kababayan SFUSD
Alexis A. David (she/her/siya) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working in San Francisco Unified School District and has a private practice supporting BIPOC clinicians working towards licensure. Alexis is a daughter of immigrants born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a mother to three brilliant beings. She is an alumni of San Francisco State University for both her Masters in Social Work (MSW) and undergraduate studies in Asian American Studies and Criminal Justice. She received her MSW in 2010 focusing on Social Action and Change with an emphasis on working with youth in foster care. She has worked in various capacities in Education through school social work, teaching Filipinx/a/o Studies, working with youth and families in foster care, substance abuse treatment and prevention, and youth development and organizing.
Alexis is one of the founding members of the Filipino Mental Health Initiative-San Francisco (FMHI-SF) in 2012 and believes that promoting mental and community wellness is a part of sustaining oneself in people's movements.