We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Yanira Hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Yanira, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. A place I proudly represent. Growing up in South Central, in a Mexican immigrant household, meant more than just waking up to delicious Mexican food and cafecito on Sunday mornings or blasting cumbias on Saturday mornings to remind you that is clean up day, It also meant more than just community violence and under-resourced schools. It meant community, culture, pride, and resilience, Even though I attended one of the lowest underperforming high schools in Los Angeles County, I graduated from UCLA with my BA in Women’s Studies and Education Studies and received my Master’s in Social Work and Doctorate in Education from USC. I chose to focus on a career in social work, mental health and education largely due to the systemic challenges many in my community, including my family, were facing. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently work for a school district in Los Angeles providing mental health services to students and their families and consultation to teachers and other educators. In addition, I’m also the CEO and Founder of Pa’lante Therapy, Inc- an online private practice where I specialize in working with First Generation Women of Color professionals, college/graduate students, undocumented/immigrant individuals, and Latinx families experiencing anxiety, depression, imposter syndrome, or trauma.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the proud owner of Pa’lante Therapy, Inc.- an online private practice where I center my work with BIPOC individuals with an emphasis on Latinx communities. As a bilingual licensed therapist, I am passionate about empowering First-Generation Women of Color professionals, college/graduate students, undocumented/immigrant individuals, and Latinx families. My areas of specialty include trauma (e.g. racial/ intergenerational trauma, early childhood trauma, complex trauma in immigrant populations), inner child work, anxiety, depression, stress, professional identity related issues, and imposter syndrome (imposter phenomenon/perfectionism). I provide cultural responsive therapy and practice through trauma-informed, anti-oppressive lenses. As a daughter of hard working class immigrants from Mexico and as a First Generation college graduate/professional from South Central Los Angeles, I not only empathize with my clients but I am also committed to decolonizing therapy and mental health practices through healing and education. I am very proud to be in a position where I can provide mental health services to individuals that look like me, who have similar lived experiences, and ultimately, be able destigmatize mental illness in the Latinx community. My journey in private practice has not been easy at all. Managing a full-time job along with other personal and professional commitments, has made it challenging to juggle the demands of being a private practice owner but I continue to rely on my support system and my passion to fuel my motivation to continue on this journey. Something I hold on to and consistently reflect on is the word “Pa’lante.” In Spanish, “Pa’lante” or “Pa’delante” is a contraction of “para adelante,” meaning moving forward or going ahead. I recall my parents always saying “siempre pa’delante, mija” (always moving forward, my daughter) and I keep that in mind when things get tough. My practice was name Pa’lante Therapy to honor my parents, honor my gente (my people), but also honor my journey.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well considering that both of my best friends are from Los Angeles, this is hard. But I’d invite them to a morning hike (nothing too crazy), followed up by a rewarding breakfast. After we are fed and no longer hangry, I’d take them to an evening Dodgers game. They will probably hate me for paying $20 micheladas but later they would thank me because their miches are totally worth it. After a sweet Dodgers win, we could continue the fun at a local bar, if they’re up for it. If not, tacos are always a good idea. The next day, I would rally up all the girls and hit up a bottomless mimosa brunch probably somewhere near the beach. The day can go either way: continue the fun elsewhere or time for a nap and UberEats it is. We would end our week long trip by having a carner asada (BBQ) at home with friends and family… probably watching the Dodgers.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A loud shoutout to my loving and courageous undocumented immigrant parents, to my unapologetically brave brother, and my kindhearted fiancé. My family has been a consistent support throughout my personal, academic, professional, and entrepreneur endeavors. Also, my accomplishments are greatly attributed to the support of my community, which includes my friends, mentors, colleagues, and my Pa’lante Therapy Instagram community. And last but not least, I want to shoutout all the amazingly talented, courageous, bold, and badass Latinas who show up everyday and remind us why representation matters.
Hector Raygoza Ivan Flores