First Name: Ivana
Last Name: Ayala-Esslinger
Business: Lilypad Counseling and Wellness Center
Bio: My journey towards providing counseling, therapy and integration began when I was in middle school. My family had many shifts and transitions, at the time I often found myself at a loss. One day, the School Counselor (Guidance) noticed me and would occasionally reach out to me. She projected warmth, nurturing and consolation, all things I needed at the time but was not ready to reach out for. I thought, “I want to be her when I grow up”. I went to Community College for my first years of undergrad In Connecticut and then finished with my Baccalaureate Degree in Psychology from Northeastern University in Boston. I began working with adults that had intellectual disabilities whom could live on their own with daily supports. I loved this job but I knew there was more. I took on the role of a substitute teacher in a middle school and found I enjoyed working with young people in school and made the decision to acquire my Master’s Degree in Counselor Education from Southern Connecticut State University. I relocated with my family to Florida and worked as a School Counselor for 8 years providing Academic, Social/ Emotional and Behavior supports at a middle school in a local rural town that would steal my heart. Even with this, I found myself desiring to provide counseling and more time to my students.
Practice: Holistic and Integrative Mental Health is how I would describe my practice. I cover the wellness paradigm, Cognitive Behavioral Theory, Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga Nidra, clean living and aromatherapy in my sessions with clients. Many struggle with low self-worth and low self-care stemming from Trauma and long-term self-neglect. I seek to help them help themselves. Empowering them to heal themselves.