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Sharika Valerio (pronounced: shuh-REE-kuh vuh-LE-ree-OH)
Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGP): she/her, they/them
I was born and raised in the Boogie Down Bronx, South Bronx to be specific. My parents are natives from Honduras, both raised in the same village yet found each other in the Bronx as young adults. I consider myself a Queer Afro-Latinx.
I attended CUNY Hunter College in NYC and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender Studies, Dance, and Sociology with a minor in Urban Studies in 2014. In 2016, I obtained my MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. I am currently working on becoming trained in Sex Therapy!
Where I Worked
During undergrad and graduate school, I worked as a College Advisor at Hunter College, an Academic Support Coordinator for Athletes at Bronx Community College, and a Social Work Intern for Veterans at Hostos College. I was also a dance instructor for elementary and middle school children at an afterschool program in the Bronx. After grad school, I worked as a Social Worker at a Young Adult Borough Center for young adults and at two Domestic Violence nonprofit organizations for children, adults and families. My experience also extends to working in shelters for men, families, and the domestic violence population.
Why I Do, What I Do
As a survivor of trauma, I noticed there has been a lack of aftercare, awareness, and resources for folks within my community who experience various forms of trauma and are afraid to ask for help or unable to afford services. The first experience I had with a warm-hearted social worker influenced me to pursue becoming a therapist to offer services for folks that look like me.
Blackness is a broad spectrum. Blackness is intersectional. Black and Latinx are not mutually exclusive identities. Growing up I was told either I am not “Black” nor “Latina” enough to be around and that took time for me to understand why I was not welcomed among both groups. Ultimately, I found folks who felt similarly, accepted me for who I am and willing to have discussions around the complexities of identity.
We need mental health practitioners that look like us to provide culturally-centered work within mental health all while challenging racism and colorism within our communities.
My clinical approach is dependent on the client’s needs and goals. I am trained in Trauma-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP), Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) for caregivers and children (ages 0-5), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) for children and adolescents, Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
Clients would say I am nurturing and grounding within sessions along with easy to talk to and someone who understands what they are experiencing.
More About Me
Outside of being a social worker, I am also: a silent ninja, holistic healer, birth doula, movement artist, yoga and meditation instructor, and pole dance instructor. During my time off, I enjoy traveling to various states and countries and indulging in self-care by means of grounding myself in nature and going to a spa for a massage and cupping.