Dr. Denise Simão Marques

My identity as a psychologist is as much influenced by my formal education and training as it is by my multicultural upbringing and experiences abroad. Growing up in an immigrant bilingual household in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood encouraged open mindedness to various ways of living. Recognizing that the culture within my house and neighborhood as a whole did not always align with how families were portrayed in the media helped me to realize from a young age that there were many ways to navigate the world. This interest in cross-cultural experiences eventually led to extensive travel beginning in my college years.

Although I had aspirations of becoming a psychologist upon completing my bachelor’s degree, I knew that the education that I would gain from living and traveling abroad would be invaluable to the individuals that I would serve as a psychologist. I knew that there were important lessons for me outside of the textbook and that these lessons would help in my endeavor to contribute to a more just world. Therefore, I chose to spend several years gaining varied and unique experiences around the world. I dedicated several years to service and cross-cultural learning during which I served in AmeriCorps NCCC and later spent nearly two years living abroad. From living in a volunteer camp to backpacking and volunteering through several countries, I was humbled, inspired, and my purpose of contributing to a more socially just world was solidified. Once in graduate school for psychology, I continued my commitment to service and diverse experiences. I worked with oppressed populations such as unaccompanied undocumented immigrant minors and individuals with HIV. I presented at conferences throughout the U.S. and published research on related topics (Please see my clinical and research pages for specifics on my formal training).

Beyond the rigors of becoming a licensed psychologist, I have also invested in learning about various alternative approaches to improving psychological health. I have learned about the benefits of integrating complementary modalities such as acupuncture, mindfulness, and hypnosis. This interest in complementary medicine influenced my decision to complete levels one and two of reiki training.

In my clinical work, I take a non-pathologizing stance in understanding psychological suffering and recognize that human experiences often do not neatly align with predetermined symptom clusters. I have specifically taken interest in working with individuals who have experienced altered states of consciousness (e.g., spiritual emergency) and those interested in integrative health. Whether the individual has experienced drug or meditation-induced psychosis or another difficulty related to a non-ordinary state , I work with individuals to integrate their experiences of non-ordinary states.

Beyond addressing symptoms of psychological distress, I often focus on assisting clients to develop an empowering narrative of their impacting experiences. Moreover, I recognize that it is imperative to acknowledge the contextual, historical, and societal factors often underlying many psychological and interpersonal difficulties. As such, I often utilize an interdisciplinary approach by engaging with other professionals such as nutritionists, psychiatrists, social workers, and spiritual guides to best serve my clients.