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Karina Tamayo, LMFT

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist 93557 

Director of Clinical Services

"Growing up with a sister with special needs and now working with many of these children has taught me that the simple pleasures and moments in life are experienced by slowing down, and seeing the world through a different lens.  I am grateful  everyday for the opportunity to work with the special needs community because their unique perspectives, approaches, and outlooks make our schools, community, and world a better place." 

Karina, a co-founder of Talk-a-While, is responsible for the direct clinical management and oversight of our services and programs provided to our families.  She received her Master's in Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University.  She was born and raised in East Los Angeles in a large and loving Mexican family, and graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.  Her passion for working with young children, adolescents, and their families stems from her upbringing in an inner-city community and from her awareness as a young child of the positive impact early intervention services, strong mentorship, and mental health support can have for families.  Her treatment approach is rooted in mutual respect, collaboration, and understanding her patient and family’s respective ethnic and family cultural background.  She strongly believes in the importance of establishing a strong therapeutic alliance, using evidence-based practices, and a strength-based approach in treatment.  She is often described as a natural with young children, is approachable, and easily connects with children of all ages who have been diagnosed with special needs.   

Licensing and Education

  • Marriage & Family Therapist License #93557

  • Master's in Arts in Clinical Psychology, Pepperdine University

  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Yale University 

Specialized Certification/Training

  • Parent Child Interaction Therapy, Certified Therapist

Personal Skills/Languages

  • Fluent in Spanish

Clinical Background

  • Kaiser Permanente, Child and Adolescent Division of the Department of Psychiatry, San Jose, CA

    • provided outpatient therapy services to children, adolescents, parents, and families

    • served as the designated Autism Specialist within the Division

    • conducted formal intake evaluation/assessments, treatments, parent psycho education services relating to children with special needs like autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, genetic anomalies, and general medical conditions

    • reviewed and guided families in the IEP process, and provided support during IEP meetings  

    • co-facilitated family group sessions involving parents and caregivers, couples work, and social skills group work with children

  • Community Solutions, San Jose, CA

    • provided mental health services to children and parents referred to the First 5 program in home, school, and community-based settings

    • evaluated, diagnosed, and developed interventions and treatment goals for children with developmental delays, adjustment struggles, behavioral challenges, and social skills deficits

    • collaborated with school personnel and medical providers to ensure therapeutic strategies advanced within the home setting  

  • Child Development Institute, Woodland Hills, CA

    • worked with children 0-6 years of age relating to developmental delays, adjustment difficulties, and ASD in their natural environments (home, school, and community)

    • used a Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship-Based Model (DIR), and other treatment modalities such as play, floor-time, and family therapy

    • provided parent training and education to support families in developing differentiated therapeutic interventions with their children

    • attended IEP meetings at school districts to support families and provide advocacy  

  • Los Angeles County Department of Social Services, Los Angeles, CA

    • provided social work services relating to the Food Stamp and state Medi-Cal programs

    • designed and developed educational materials for community outreach and education,

    • assisted with outreach programs at community fairs, food banks, WIC centers, and free health clinics

Associations & Memberships

  • California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)

  • Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CAMFT

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