Meet Melyssa, Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern
Before pursuing a career as a mental health professional, Melyssa worked with numerous species as an animal trainer and gained extensive experience with the principles of behavior modification. Melyssa was lucky enough to spend 5 years in her childhood dream job, but soon came to realize her new dream was to help people improve their lives.
Melyssa entered graduate school to study Clinical Psychology where she was able to expand upon her existing knowledge of behaviorism to include the complexities of cognition and the human experience. She understands how intimidating it can be to enter a therapy session.
Her primary focus is on connecting and building a working relationship with clients and holding a safe, comfortable space to allow clients to be vulnerable.
Experience & Specialties
During her health psychology focused internship experience, Melyssa worked with cancer patients to help them through the mental and emotional struggles of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Along with cancer, many patients faced additional chronic conditions, including pain, insomnia, hypertension, and obesity.
Melyssa incorporates a whole person approach to therapy by also examining lifestyle behaviors to promote overall well-being and enhance quality of life. During her internship experience, Melyssa worked with cancer patients experiencing adjustment disorder, depression, anxiety, self-esteem/body image issues, comorbid health issues, and grief.
Melyssa is also interested in working with individuals in caregiver roles, healthcare professionals, veterinarians, and first responders to promote mental wellness in these populations. She desires to help them individuals in these populations to build resilience, manage stress, and prevent burnout.
After experiencing two stress-induced illnesses in 2015, Melyssa began practicing mindfulness to try and better manage her stress. Since then, Melyssa has shared the benefits of practicing mindfulness and has facilitated numerous Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction groups for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers.
She has become a strong advocate for building awareness of the mind-body connection to better enhance well-being and understanding the implications of chronic stress on our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Melyssa’s primary treatment approaches include the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, self-compassion focused therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, while taking a whole-person focus examining lifestyle behaviors to promote overall well-being.
She understands the power of the human-animal connection and her dog, Buddy, became certified as a therapy dog in 2016 through Pet Partners. Melyssa rescued Buddy at 10 months old, worked with him to overcome numerous behavioral problems, and was a very proud dog mom when he received his therapy dog certification!
He is now 10 years old and has comforted many people over his years of “work” – Melyssa (and Buddy!) will happily offer the option of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) to clients that would like to request to have Buddy present for their sessions.
Education and Experience
Melyssa graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2012 with her Bachelor’s of Science Degrees in Biology and Psychology. After taking time to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an animal trainer, Melyssa returned to the University of Central Florida in 2017 to pursue her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology and completed her practicum and internship experiences with Orlando Health’s Integrative Medicine Department and Cancer Support Community.
Melyssa recently graduated with her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from UCF and is currently a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern with the State of Florida to pursue her license in mental health counseling.
She is currently studying for the board certification exam to become a Lifestyle Medicine Professional in November to better serve her patients using evidence-based, therapeutic lifestyle interventions.
Please contact Melyssa today to schedule your initial appointment at
407-622-1770 or [email protected]