About

CarmenLeah Ascencio (she/hers), LICSW, MPH, RYT, CPC, is a bilingual (Spanish-English) public health social worker, ecotherapist, radical life coach, trauma-sensitive yoga instructor and educator. She integrates artistic, spiritual and body centered practices into her therapeutic and transformative work. CarmenLeah is also a Boricua queer femme, ocean devotee, novice surfer and freediver, student of the Dharma, Ashtanga yoga practitioner, outdoor explorer and super enthusiastic mother of two awesome little humans.

CarmenLeah provides:

  • Ecotherapy (outdoor nature-based talk therapy)
  • Life Coaching
  • Trauma Sensitive Yoga
  • Therapeutic Theatre & Theatre of the Oppressed facilitation
  • Training and Workshops
  • Public Speaking
  • Organizational consulting

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After 15 years of working in various types of non-profit organizations, including small grassroots organizations, public schools, health centers, and international humanitarian aid agencies, I identified multiple factors that lead people to feel burnt out and uninspired by work they once felt passionate about. I myself had become one of these people. I witnessed and personally understood how people with passion and talent could become burnt out and resigned when an organization did not have a structure or culture in place to support the emotional well-being, education, creativity, collaboration and empowerment of staff and clients. My observations led me to study and practice trauma informed care and help non-profit programs to embody their values in organizational culture and daily practice through trainings and consulting. At the same time, I opened up my own private practice to support individuals through therapy, life-coaching and trauma sensitive yoga to heal from trauma, sustain themselves in social justice work and do what makes them come alive. After some time, I realized that something was still missing from my work and I still felt drained. I disliked working in an office and was experiencing physical pain from sitting so much. I remembered the time I spent with the ocean in Northern California, learning to surf, and longed for this daily connection to the natural world. I also became more aware of how few of my BIPOC clients spent much time connecting to the natural world and wondered how this lack of connection impacted their well-being. I began to explore ways to integrate nature into therapeutic practices and quickly discovered that this was the missing link for me. Since then, I have trained in ecotherapy, learned farming/gardening and studied herbalism. I now integrate my training in clinical social work, public health, trauma informed yoga, mindfulness, theatre of the oppressed and education, farming, herbalism and ecotherapy to provided transformative services to individuals, organizations and schools.

I specialize in supporting:

  1. People affected by violence and abuse (including commercial sexual exploitation/sex-trafficking)
  2. People experiencing depression and anxiety
  3. Queer and trans people (with focus on QTBIPoC)
  4. Social justice activists
  5. Parents working through their own healing as they learn to be better parents
  6. Adolescents (with a focus on youth of color and youth in urban environments)
  7. Latinx people
  8. Refugees and asylum seekers
  9. College students of color

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

I have over 17 years of clinical and program management experience working in domestic and international non-profits with a focus on partner abuse, sexual violence, the commercial sexual exploitation of children, refugee resettlement and positive youth development. My professional experience includes: program management and design, individual and group therapy, advocacy, case management, community outreach, training development, workshop facilitation, staff supervision, quantitative and qualitative research, monitoring and evaluation, facilitating applied community theatre, and teaching. I have worked for agencies such as GEMS in New York City, the International Rescue Committee, the Center for Global Health and Development at Boston University, Apne Aap Women Worldwide in Delhi, India, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and the Violence Recovery Program at Fenway Health. I am currently an ecotherapist and life coach in private practice in the Pioneer Valley are of Western, MA and a course instructor at Boston University School of Social Work.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

I have a bachelor’s degree in post-colonial and third world feminist theory and theatre for social change from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. During undergrad I studied the role of art in the revolution at the University of Havana in Cuba. I have a Masters in Social Work, with a specialization in trauma, and a Masters in Public Health, with a specialization in global health from Boston University.

I have the following certifications/specialized training:

  • Professional Coach certification, Leadership That Works Coaching for Transformation
  • Massachusetts state certified rape crisis counselor and domestic violence counselor
  • 200hr Yoga Teacher Training, Kripalu School of Yoga (specialization in teaching yoga for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator, Theatre of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) of the Brecht Forum in New York City
  • Level 1 Ecotherapy Certification, The Earth Body Institute
  • Herbalism Apprentice, Seed Root & Bloom
  • BIPOC farmers training, Soul Fire Farm

My work is informed by:

  1. The neurobiology and physiology of trauma
  2. Paulo Freiri’s Pedagogy
  3. Theatre of the Oppressed
  4. Yoga
  5. Buddhism and Mindfulness
  6. Critical Race Theory
  7. Third World Feminist Theory