Jen Leftwich, LMSW
If life has taught Jen anything, it’s that the entire human condition spectrum is necessary for becoming a whole person, that part of this means people are fully capable of bravely enduring the greatest of storms, and that building a life worth living is an ongoing process that weaves all our capabilities. She holds fast to the idea that much of what surrounds human pain and distress is the tension caused by trying to reconcile life’s many truths, and that both the comfort and pain that can result can leave us with uncertainty and perhaps feeling lost and without hope or direction. Jen starts where her client is and prioritizes a working relationship anchored in trust, communication, and authenticity. Jen is both a gentle empath and protective advocate personality which drives her to come alongside others in pain and distress; an opportunity she considers a privilege, honor, and serious commitment. Jen empathizes with the myriad of experiences that come with navigating life’s uncharted waters and wants to hear her clients’ stories of their journeys – the next steps are determined together. Jen uses this information and the therapeutic relationship to support her clients through the use of evidence-based treatment methods with an approach that is holistic, strengths-based, collaborative, gentle, conscientious, empathic, empowering, authentic, and validating. Jen has delivered mental health treatment in community agencies and programs, as well as in a major metropolitan inpatient/acute psychiatric unit where she supported adults experiencing the worst times of their lives living with a wide array of distressing symptoms stemming from severe/serious mental illness and substance use and abuse, to issues of chronic pain, moral injury, depressed and anxious mood, personality disorders, chronic suicidality, grief and loss, psychological and physical trauma, and stress of daily life and development. Jen now works primarily with adults experiencing distress and pain caused by direct or secondary psychological trauma with or without physical trauma, life stressors and transitions, moral injury, relationship changes and challenges, loss and grief, depression, and anxiety. Prior to providing mental health treatment and crisis work, Jen worked in 911 emergency communications as a call-taker and dispatcher where she became certified in Peer Support and Critical Incident Stress Management and Debriefing through the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, and created her agency’s Peer Support team. Jen is a native San Diegan from a large family of military veterans and first responders, including being the proud wife of a career Firefighter/Paramedic. Jen is both personally and professionally culturally competent to work with these populations and their families who give so much, and they hold a special place in her heart. Jen earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2021, her Master of Arts degree in Trauma and Crisis Response Counseling from Liberty University in 2018, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Regent University in 2017. Jen is trained in the trauma-focused treatment Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, utilizes solutions-focused, cognitive, and dialectical behavior therapy informed interventions for practical skills for relief and growth, and also values the importance of incorporating psychodynamic and existential/narrative approaches when her clients are ready to take a deeper dive, always with a heightened sensitivity to and conscientiousness of trauma and adverse events history. Jen is also open to integrating her clients’ faith and spiritual strengths and resources as the client requests and is comfortable. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker and a registered Supervisee in Social Work in the state of Virginia. When not working to support her clients and improving in her own education and training, Jen is usually crocheting blankets and scarves, trying to keep her succulent plants happy, being an aunt to her dozen nieces and nephews, working on house projects, and exploring the mountains and national parks with her family and taking tons of photos.