Val Lopez is a healer and restorer of hope

Val Lopez has always taken care of others and now, as an occupational therapist at the Healing Intergenerational Roots (HIR) Wellness Institute, she truly puts her whole heart into her work. Lopez helps people with mental health issues, disabilities and other disabilities participate in their community by teaching them rehabilitation exercises, job preparation and other life skills. Building a trusting relationship with her patients and making them feel safe is her first step in finding a path to recovery.

For many people, the story of how they found their way to their professional careers begins with their schooling, but Lopez’s story begins with his mother. A strong and loving woman who raised eight children on her own, her mother taught her children the importance of treating others with respect and dignity. Lopez took her mother’s lessons to heart and from an early age she developed a passion for others.

The eldest of her eight siblings, Lopez chose to postpone her college education and work full time to help her mother support the family. She later married and had two children and when her daughter was two she started her college career part-time while continuing to work full-time.

Love and pride

Much of Lopez’s devotion to improving the health of others comes from the love and pride his mother showed him. “I want to do [my mother] proud and my children proud and I know that I am. I draw my strength and courage from her so that I can speak my truth and help others heal, as I have healed over the years, ”she says.

For much of his life, Lopez has struggled with depression and has a personal understanding of how mental health can affect people’s daily lives. This experience brought her to the field of occupational therapy and the unique approach taken by HIR Wellness to healing mental health and intergenerational trauma.

At the HIR Wellness Institute, Lopez works with Blacks, Indigenous people and people of color who suffer from trauma that has arisen through generations of oppression – an essential part of mental health that is often overlooked in the mental health arena. ‘today. Lea S. Denny, Founder and CEO, has developed a model for healing this intergenerational trauma called Circle of Care. Patients of the wellness institute, or relatives as they are called, have the opportunity to see several therapeutic specialists: an occupational therapist, a counselor (like Xavier Smart whom we presented last month) and a trauma specialist. .

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Because HIR Wellness offers free treatments, they do not have to comply with restrictions imposed by insurance companies, such as making it too expensive to consult several specialists. Instead, they can offer an integrated medicine approach that meets the needs of the people they serve. Denny developed this model in response to how indigenous communities heal, often in a community way and with caregivers of different specialties.

Lopez is part of this circle, bringing his compassion and dedication to Healing Spaces. She describes her role within the Circle of Care: “A restorer of hope, dignity and function that helps people reach their full potential through methods as dynamic as they are. Occupational therapists help people perform at their best so that they can participate in activities that are important and meaningful to them. It is clear that Lopez has a significant impact on the lives of many people and helps them heal. “That’s what my purpose in life is.”

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