What is your Hispanic Heritage: Cubano
What area of Florida do you live in: Tampa, FL
What is your profession: Psychologist, Coach, and Speaker
Meet Dr. Garcia and other Lideres at the Hispanic Heritage Celebration at 3rd Annual FORD Taste Of Latino Festival!
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about what you do for a living and how you got into it
Dr. Garcia: I am a clinical psychologist and run my own private practice. I help people who struggle with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and relationship issues. After spending 8 years serving in the military and another 7 years working as a firefighter and paramedic, I realized that there were a lot of men and women out there suffering mentally and emotionally but not talking to anyone about it. At 32, I left my firefighting career to go back to school and earn my doctorate degree. I then became a licensed psychologist and began working with veterans and first responders to help them heal from their trauma.
After seeing just how many people in our community and in our society were struggling with mental health issues, I decided to work with anyone and everyone that was looking to find more happiness, success, or love in their life. This led me to become a speaker and coach as well. I now help business professionals, leaders, and organizations to find greater confidence and achieve more.
Latin Times Magazine: In your industry, what would you say separates you from your competition
Dr. Garcia: What separates me from the competition is my deep-down passion and desire to help people transform their lives for the better. A lot of psychologist and therapist out there think it is their job to “fix” people. I don’t think we are meant to be fixed because none of us is “broken.” I truly believe that we already have everything we need within us to overcome our struggles and find success and happiness. I help my clients find their own courage and strength. Another big difference that sets me apart is the fact that I have worked with therapists to overcome my own personal struggles so I know what it is like to be a patient. Many psychologists out there have never been to therapy. That is like going to a mechanic who has never driven a car.
Latin Times Magazine: During Covid-19, tell us about your Biggest Challenge/obstacle and how you overcame it/or are overcoming it
Dr. Garcia: As a psychologist, my services were and continue to be in high demand due to Covid-19. We have seen a lot of people struggling with stress, anxiety, grief, and many other mental health issues. As a result, I began to experience compassion fatigue. This happens to many people in the helping professions such as first responders, nurses, doctors, etc. Compassion fatigue occurs when we give so much of ourselves to helping others but we leave no room for rest or recovery. Although this was a big challenge for me, it was a blessing in disguise. It prompted me to make the decisions to expand my practice and hire a bigger team of therapist to help our community.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about your biggest achievement, and how you achieved it (Covid or non-related)
Dr. Garcia: I would say my biggest achievement has been living a life in the service of others. It has always been my passion to help people. From serving in the US Marines Corps and serving our country, to then becoming a firefighter and serving my community, to now becoming a doctor and trying to help people heal, it has always been in my blood to give of myself. This is something I learned as a young man from parents who have always done the same. Even though we came to this country as political refugees from Cuba, they always taught me the importance of working hard and always giving back.
Latin Times Magazine: What is next for you? What can people expect to see from you?
Dr. Garcia: I have come to learn in life that we all struggle. That life will get hard at some point for each and every one of us. And we don’t have to be ashamed of struggling. It is part of the human experience and it happens to all of us. I’m in the process of speaking out more on mental health and have made it my personal mission to end the stigma around mental health. I want people to know that it is okay not to be oaky. I plan on finding every platform possible to let people know just how amazing they are and how they are capable of such greatness.
Latin Times Magazine: What does being a U.S. Citizen mean to you?
Dr. Garcia: Becoming a US citizen was a huge moment for me. I felt so proud to be a part of this great country that provided my family and I with the liberty, freedom, and opportunities that we could not have in our native land of Cuba. I felt so proud in fact that I decided to join the military after high school to help fight for and protect our rights and freedom.
Latin Times Magazine: What is your opinion of the state of affairs in our nation?
Dr. Garcia: I think we are going through some tough times as a nation right now. We are very divided in many ways. I think we are forgetting our true values as human beings and it is causing a lot of political and social unrest. But I also know that at our core, we are compassionate and loving human beings. That is how we come into this world. We are not born with hate; we are taught it. We are not born with prejudice; we learn it. I think we just need to start reminding ourselves that we work function better as a society, as a country, and globally when we act from a place of love. We all have this amazing capacity for compassion. We see it all the time when we come together after a disaster or tragedy to help one another. I think we need to start using that compassion to support one another instead of tearing each other apart.
Latin Times Magazine: What words of encouragement can you offer?
Dr. Garcia: I would say to people that sometimes you just need to believe in yourself. I know that life can be tough and feel like a real struggle sometimes but it is in those moments exactly that we must have the greatest faith. I always tell people that one of the best ways to build confidence is to think back on their lives and remember just how much they have already overcome. We are so much stronger than we think. We need to welcome the challenging times because that is what builds our character and makes us more resilient human beings.
Latin Times Magazine: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to share?
Dr. Garcia: Yes. Let’s start to make our mental and emotional health a priority. Let’s stop making it something to be ashamed of in the Hispanic and Latino community. The story that it makes you “crazy” to seek help is just old and played out. We are a new generation and we need to create new narratives around mental health. If you are struggling in any area of your life, reach out for support. It will be the wisest decision you ever make.
Latin Times Magazine: What is YOUR comida Latina favorita?
Dr. Garcia: Mi comida Latina favorita es arroz blanco con frijoles negroes y bistec empanizado con maduros. YUMMMM!! I can eat this every day.