Challes Foley (Intern Therapist)
Challes L. Foley (she/her) is an intern therapist at The Center for Growth who uses an eclectic therapeutic approach to provide support to a wide range of clients. Her internship runs from July 10th, 2023 to July 10th, 2024.
Challes strives to cultivate a therapy practice that is grounded in acceptance, care, and compassion for all people and helping them achieve the peace, pleasure, and connection they deserve. She provides a therapeutic environment that is nonjudgmental, safe, and supportive for her clients as she collaborates with them on their journey of self-discovery and healing. As a collaborator in the therapeutic relationship, Challes provides her clients with guidance that helps them gain insight into their concerns and develop a deeper understanding of themselves.
Challes employs an eclectic and holistic approach that is client-centered, strengths-based, trauma-informed, and anti-oppressive. Her dynamic therapeutic approach draws on various theories and modalities including mindfulness, systems theory, acceptance and commitment therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and somatic therapy. Challes enjoys working with clients who have concerns that include but are not limited to depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, life transitions, relationships, self-esteem, body image, gender identity, sexuality, and spirituality. She is particularly interested in working with clients who are Black, PoC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, neurodivergent, or MaGes (people of marginalized genders).
Challes is currently a graduate student completing her master’s in social work at Rutgers University. She is also a student member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Before pursuing her master’s, Challes earned a bachelor’s in Sociology with a minor in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Challes regularly attends trainings to continually learn how to better serve her clients, and she has plans to pursue certification in somatic therapy. Challes is also proficient in Spanish, intermediate in Hindi, and has a basic knowledge of Haitian Creole.
During the first year of her master’s program, Challes worked at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in New Jersey. At the hospital, she provided both therapeutic and case management services to clients dealing with a variety of health, social, and economic challenges. Challes utilized a client-centered, trauma-informed therapeutic approach alongside mindfulness, psychodynamic, and cognitive-behavioral techniques to help her clients navigate their stresses and traumas and meet their treatment goals. Her work at the hospital also included co-facilitating weekly group therapy sessions and leading the group through a variety of mindfulness exercises.
As her clients were disabled and navigating life in the hospital with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder, Challes gained a deeper understanding of structural issues in the mental health field and the ways they impact people with highly stigmatized disorders. In this way, her work at the hospital also bolstered her passion for working with people living with highly stigmatized mental illnesses. She devoted much of her time at the hospital to holding space for her clients to express themselves, helping them advocate for their needs, and working to challenge the ways that the hospital’s environment threatened their well-being. Challes strongly believes in the need for structural change that leads to our communities providing disabled people with the support they need to live full, autonomous lives, and she hopes to continually contribute to efforts to build mental health supports that better serve marginalized and oppressed peoples.
Challes’s desire to work as a therapist and clinical social worker is deeply informed by her lived experience as a queer Black person. Having experienced many of the dynamics of being a multiply marginalized person and sharing community with people of similar backgrounds, Challes recognizes the need that there is for accessible mental health care that is provided by practitioners from marginalized communities. She also understands the value of people using their strengths and resources to help support and care for their communities, as there can be no liberation without community. Challes is passionate about working as a therapist because it enables her to apply her skills and knowledge in a way that supports her communities’ well-being, and she is honored to be able to engage in this work while at The Center for Growth.
Having lived in both Philadelphia and New Jersey throughout her life, Challes currently lives in New Jersey where she cherishes time at home with her family and her cat, Amira. Challes is also a dedicated dance artist and a self-described nerd who enjoys reading, watching game shows, and playing board games.
What to Expect from Therapy with Challes
Whether you have previously had therapy or are new to the experience, Challes understands that starting a new therapeutic relationship can feel intimidating, overwhelming, or strange. To foster an environment that feels safe and affirming, Challes works with her clients at a pace that suits their needs and comfort level. While centering her clients’ experiences and perspectives, Challes listens and extends compassionate, honest, and nonjudgmental communication. Believing that her clients are the experts of their experiences, Challes collaborates with her clients to help them tap into and develop the skills that they need to navigate their challenges and make decisions. Challes understands that people’s needs often change throughout the duration of the therapeutic relationship. Utilizing her dynamic therapeutic approach, Challes is able to pivot when necessary and offer her clients other perspectives and approaches that may be more suitable for them.
Challes works to ensure that her clients are fully seen and heard so that they feel safe expressing their hopes, desires, fears, and needs. To help them define and achieve their goals, Challes provides guidance as her clients process their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. By working with her clients to address the various issues they may be experiencing, Challes strives to empower her clients and help them gain a deeper understanding of themselves. As Challes extends compassion and grace to her clients, she hopes to help them learn to extend compassion and grace to themselves as they navigate life’s challenges. Whatever her clients’ concerns may be, Challes is committed to helping them achieve their wellness goals.
Challes’s Therapeutic Approach
Challes’s approach to therapy is client-centered, strengths-based, trauma-informed, and anti-oppressive. In the therapeutic relationship, it is critical that clients’ autonomy is respected and valued. Challes provides therapy where her clients’ perspectives, needs, and experiences are central and drive the therapeutic collaboration. Though Challes’s skills and knowledge as a therapist help facilitate her clients’ wellness journey, it is the clients’ themselves that have the power to effect desired change in their lives.
Though all people are imperfect beings, it can be detrimental to a person’s well-being to focus too heavily on those imperfections. To empower her clients to effect the change they want to see in their lives, Challes adopts a strengths-based approach to therapy. All people possess a variety of traits, relationships, or other resources that can serve as assets in their lives. These assets are strengths that bolster people’s ability to navigate their challenges. Challes highlights these strengths and helps her clients to recognize and develop them so that they are empowered to work towards their goals.
Whether it is acute, chronic, or complex, trauma likely has impacted everyone’s life in some way. Recognizing how common and influential traumatic experiences can be throughout people’s lives, Challes considers the ways that trauma can profoundly affect her clients’ relationships with themselves, with other people, and with their environments. As the mind and the body relate to each other in dynamic ways, Challes helps her clients navigate their traumas and process their feelings in a way that is attentive to the relationship between the mind and body.
Whether it is experienced at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, or institutional level, oppression affects people’s lives in complex and varying ways. The many forms of oppression that can negatively impact people’s lives include colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, racism, ableism, sanism, fatphobia, and queerphobia. With an anti-oppression approach, Challes strives to understand the myriad ways that various systems of oppression inform her clients’ experiences. With this understanding, Challes is better equipped to help her clients understand the dynamics of their various concerns and to collaborate with them to find ways to challenge and cope with the ways oppression impacts their lives.
Challes uses an eclectic, holistic approach to therapy because she understands that therapy is not one-size-fits-all. Every client’s needs are unique, and a flexible, dynamic approach to therapy enables Challes to better meet the varying needs of her clients. Challes’s holistic therapy approach acknowledges the ways that people’s experiences are informed by the various systems that make up their individual selves and their environments. Though they may not always be readily apparent, the ways that clients’ systems impact their lives are often intricately intertwined and interdependent. Attentive care to the relationships between clients’ systems is critical to helping them achieve their wellness goals. Addressing the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of her clients, Challes helps her clients to get to the root of their various concerns.
Whatever your concerns are, Challes looks forward to having the privilege of working with you and supporting you on your journey to self-discovery, growth, and healing.
- Pennsylvania: Currently pursuing a masters in social work at Rutgers