By Rhashad R. Pittman
Marriage and family difficulties. Depression. Substance abuse. Childhood trauma. The reasons for getting counseling are endless. Although many people struggle with these issues, few seek professional help to address them.
Instead, they carry these issues inside them like boxes, says behavioral health therapist Marcos N. Gallardo, MSW, boxes filled with painful memories and emotions that they keep tucked away deep inside of them. At times, they even decorate the box with bows and ribbons to keep the issues hidden from others and even themselves.
But the issues remain, wreaking havoc in ways that those who carry them may not be aware of. All the while, the issues go on to affect their well-being, relationships, and careers. The mission of Gallardo’s practice, Alianza Counseling, is to help unwrap these boxes that people carry with them and reveal what is lurking inside them – then help them heal.
“A lot of people have open wounds,” Gallardo said. “We try to mend these wounds.”
Alianza Counseling provides brief and long-term counseling in Spanish and English for individuals, couples, and families, as well as support groups. Alianza treats depression, anxiety, self-esteem, self-improvement, domestic violence, anger management, childhood trauma, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. The office is also LGBT friendly and offers play therapy for children and anger management courses and psychological evaluations for criminal cases.
As the sole therapist for Alianza, Gallardo works closely with local agencies, including Victims of Crime, Children Protective Services (CPS), and county court offices throughout California. He also works with lawyers throughout the state in providing hardship letters and mental health evaluations for immigration cases including U-Visa, residency, and deportation.
Gallardo’s office, located at 42 N. Sutter Street, #503 in downtown Stockton, aims to provide a safe and secure place for confidential conversations where clients feel comfortable discussing their feelings. Gallardo sees clients during the day and evening, he said.
“We try to provide a positive and safe environment for our clients,” Gallardo said.
Alianza Counseling began providing services to the underserved populations in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties in May 2006. After starting the business with a couple of partners, Gallardo became the sole proprietor in 2015.
Before Mr. Gallardo’s current role, he was the Director of the Latino Behavioral Health Services for a local nonprofit in San Joaquin County. Mr. Gallardo earned a master’s degree in social work from California State University, Stanislaus in 2001, graduating with distinction Summa Cum Laude. He has been a behavioral health therapist for more than 15 years.
Gallardo said he started Alianza Counseling primarily to serve underserved, Spanish Speaking communities, which often go overlooked, and to combat the stigma that counseling is only for “crazy” people.
“We have a path in our life,” he said. “And sometimes we encounter a lot of challenges along the way. Alianza Counseling understands those challenges…you can leave it all behind in an environment that’s safe and secure.”
To learn more about Alianza Counseling, visit www.alianzacounseling.org or call 209-910-9127.
By Rhashad R. Pittman