Healing Road Counseling Services’ mission is to provide trauma-informed, culturally sensitive mental health services to diverse populations – Yudelka Columna
Healing Road Counseling, LLC
Healing Road Counseling Services, LLC is an organization based in Hackettstown, New Jersey that serves community members across the state. Incorporated in 2019, Healing Road Counseling Services’ mission is to provide trauma-informed, culturally sensitive mental health services to diverse populations with evidence-based interventions that use a holistic approach. The founder of Healing Road Counseling, Yudelka Columna, saw a need for culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, bilingual (Spanish- English) behavioral health services across ages, and founded her organization to fill the gap in services. Due to an increased need for quality mental health services, Healing Road Counseling has expanded to offer individuals, couples, and family therapy both virtually and in person.
Yudelka Columna (BBA, MSW, LCSW) is an Afro-Latina, an immigrant, and a loving mother to three children. She immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic, and her commitment to empowerment and collaboration in her work has fundamentally shaped Healing Road Counseling. Her entrepreneurial spirit has empowered her to collaborate with mental health service providers across her networks and create a strong and personal connection with both her team and her clients, working together towards shared goals. She believes strongly in ensuring that individuals in underserved communities have access to quality mental health providers who can work to support them in their individual healing journeys and has worked to make this a reality.
Before her organization came to life, Yudelka graduated with a degree in Business Administration at APEC University in Santo Domingo, DR, where she was recognized as a top student in her field. When she moved to the US, she continued in her education and obtained a Master of Social Work from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Her post-graduate training in Integrative Health Care from the University of Massachusetts and her extensive experience in the clinical field has led to many awards highlighting her outstanding work as a professional therapist, and she has since been invited as a motivational speaker across universities and organizations. She specializes in trained practices such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), solution-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Problem-Solving, Brain Spotting, etc. to treat patients with Post Stress Traumatic Disorder (PTSD). Her personal work and Healing Road Counseling highlight these practices, and mindfulness-based, ethical, and culturally sensitive therapy.
Throughout her journey of entrepreneurship, founding a new organization, and advocating for those seeking mental health services, Yudelka acknowledges that these goals do not come without challenges. One of the primary challenges that Healing Road Counseling has faced is the overarching lack of support for the underserved communities the organization is working to serve. Finances are a large barrier when seeking mental health services. Sometimes, insurance companies will not provide coverage for behavioral health benefits, which can lead to inaccessible out-of-pocket costs for people who need support- not to mention individuals who do not have access to insurance, to begin with. Similarly, there are many logistics challenges clients may face, such as languages not being represented by their mental health providers, difficulties finding a therapist who reflects their identities and can understand their lived experiences, and an overall need for bilingual service providers. For instance, the American Psychological
Association highlights that only 5.5% of clinical providers reported being able to provide services in Spanish (American Psychological Association, 2015). As diverse populations in the United States grow, there is a lack of quality, trauma-informed, culturally sensitive mental health services for them. While people may be able to financially access mental health services, underserved community members may navigate barriers in many other ways. When individuals are in situations where they are experiencing effects on their mental health, a lack of access to appropriate care and systematic barriers to support can amplify their challenges, financially, logistically, and emotionally.
However, with these challenges comes room for opportunity, which is precisely where Healing Road Counseling has found itself growing. Due to COVID-19, the need for mental health services increased. The World Health Organization preliminarily found that at the onset of COVID-19, the prevalence of anxiety and depression around the world grew by 25%, and the gap between individuals and mental health services widened (World Health Organization, 2022). This obvious challenge has highlighted the need for more access to comprehensive care across groups, but the need for underserved communities is compounded by other factors. For example, one of the challenges that Yudelka notes is the need for bilingual therapists. In the United States, the Latino and Hispanic population is growing, with the Hispanic population increasing by 23% over the previous decade (Passel et al., 2022). According to the Pew Research Center, over 37 million people in the United States speak Spanish as a first language and it is the fastest-growing language in our country (Lopez & Gonzalez-Barrera, 2013). Despite this growth in Latino and Hispanic populations, an upwards trajectory of the number of native Spanish-speakers, and an increase of people needing mental health services, the systems that are supposed to support all clients are not equipped to do so. There is a tremendous opportunity to address this gap head-on, and support bilingual therapists by offering competitive pay, adequate supervision and support, and opportunities from existing agencies. Through Yudelka’s own personal experience as a Latina, a native Spanish speaker, and a clinician, Healing Road Counseling services is working to do just that and collaborate with other providers who care deeply about accessible social services to eliminate these gaps given the clear opportunity to support as many individuals as possible.
There are many clinicians, social workers, and entrepreneurs that are also navigating ways to address these challenges. With Yudelka’s experience, both personal and professional, she has ample advice for other businesses or organizations who are getting on their feet. Looking inward, she encourages that you stand confidently with your beliefs; in yourself, and in something higher than yourself. Yudelka shares that she is very spiritual, and her faith in God has helped her navigate this journey. Believing in herself has built her self-esteem and allowed her to have a clear vision and mission of what she wants to accomplish. She amplifies that “if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will”.
While Yudelka advises that other business owners and entrepreneurs should take calculated risks and be willing to work hard and work smart, you should also be an eternal student. Have the attitude to learn constantly, read books, surround yourself with supportive mentors, always attend extra trainings, etc. Determination, discipline, and endurance are key elements to surviving entrepreneurship, but you cannot do it alone! Build a team and find good and smart people that have the skills that you lack. You need to know your strengths and partner with people that are good for your weaknesses. Make sure your team members have values that go in alignment with the values of your organization. At the end of the day, the product of your hard work will translate, and while there will always be haters, stay focused on improving yourself and your business.
American Psychological Association. (2016). 2015 Survey of Psychology Health Service Providers. Washington, DC: Author.
Lopez, M. H., & Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2013, September 5). What is the future of Spanish in the United States? Pew Research Center. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/05/what-is-the-future-of-spanish-in-the-united-states/
Passel, J. S., Lopez, M. H., & Cohn, D. (2022, February 3). U.S. Hispanic population continued its geographic spread in the 2010s. Pew Research Center. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/02/03/u-s-hispanic-population-continued-its-geographic-spread-in-the-2010s/
World Health Organization. (2022, March 2). COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. WHO | World Health Organization. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide