2016-fall-taking-root

Taking Root:
MAMFT Graduate Erica London Builds Private Practice to Serve Latino Community

Written by Dena Roché

Erica London, who graduated in 2016 with a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) says, “If we all had an outlook of ‘we’ instead of ‘me,’ we really could change this world.”

Erica London (MAMFT, Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy)

Erica London Erica London

London is doing her part with a unique private practice in Vancouver, Washington called Compass Community Counseling. A third-generation Hispanic American, and fluent Spanish speaker, she is passionate about improving the health offerings available to the Latino community.

“I got this degree because I wanted to have an impact on the people who are local and living in my neighborhood,” London told us. “Yes, I wanted to do big things nationwide, but I also want to make changes happen in my town. I feel like if I can help one person, then that’s worth it.”

London’s big dream is to have a community center that is a one-stop shop where Latinos can feel safe and secure getting an array of services from counseling to naturopathic care.

Currently, London offers traditional counseling services, as well as a unique program of home therapy service. The idea was born from her work before graduation as a case manager and social worker. She travels to clients’ homes to help them simplify their home life and make the house a place of relaxation instead of tension.

“People think if their marriage doesn't look like what they see on Facebook, that they’re failing. I have to remind them that Facebook isn’t real and that there is no perfect relationship.”

Erica London

It was, however, her social work with the Vancouver school district that led her to a career in counseling.

“When I started working, I saw people struggling and felt like I was providing a Band-Aid. I wanted to dig deeper and find out why they were doing what they did,” London said. “I had been accepted into a Master of Social Work (MSW) program right after I finished my bachelor’s degree but, as a single mom, the timing didn’t seem right.”

London looked at a variety of local universities, but as a newlywed with three children, she needed a flexible program. Then, she found Northcentral University. With its regional accreditation, one-to-one learning model and competitive tuition, the decision to pursue her master’s program at NCU was easy.

“Getting a graduate degree takes work. It’s not going to be easy,” she advised. “Whether you’re doing a distance program, or an onsite program, you’re going to have to put forth the energy and the time.”

London needed to find balance in juggling school, parenting and a full-time job. “I had a lot of help from my husband, and I figured out what I needed to do to take care of myself and my family,” she said. “I cut away things that didn’t matter and made sacrifices like less sleep!”

London is the first person in her family to earn a master’s degree and she firmly believes education is imperative to success because knowledge is something no one can ever take away from you. To that end, she is still considering the idea of someday becoming “Dr. London.”

“Getting a graduate degree takes work. It’s not going to be easy. Whether you’re doing a distance program, or an onsite program, you’re going to have to put forth the energy and the time.”

“Dr. Lisa Kelledy [MAMFT Program Director, NCU Department of Marriage and Family Sciences] encouraged me to continue. I thought about it and a part of me would like to see that,” she said with a laugh. “I feel, however, that I’ve taken a lot of time away from my family so I’m going to spend time with them while they’re still young enough to want me around.”

Armed with her graduate degree, London now provides general counseling with a focus on restoring relationships.

“People think if their marriage doesn't look like what they see on Facebook, that they’re failing,” she explains. “I have to remind them that Facebook isn’t real and that there is no perfect relationship. The grass isn’t greener like we’re constantly told through movies, TV and what we read. Relationships are suffering because of this.”

London also is a Christian counselor, which further helps her serve her strong, faith-based community.

People are sometimes surprised to learn that away from work and family, one of London’s biggest passions is riding motorcycles with her husband. She has her own Harley Davidson Softail Deuce.

“It’s fun because people don’t expect it of me,” she said smiling.

London also sports a tattoo featuring a tree with roots, which exemplifies her master’s degree. “This represents change and therapy to me,” she explained. “I help people look at how their roots affect their story.”