Melissa Dellens, M.A. | The Affirmative Couch

Melissa Dellens, M.A.

Melissa Dellens, M.A.

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Position: Affirmative Organization Consultant & Interim Social Media Coordinator

Identities: bisexual cisgender white woman

Language(s) Spoken: English

Get to know me:

I am passionate about building strong, healthy communities both big and small. From my early work in summer camps and theaters I discovered the power of human relationships and became interested in cultivating these connections to make change. I have supervised a community integration program for people with developmental disabilities for over a decade. I have co-published a paper on using the Community Narration Approach to empower collaborative change. This storytelling process engages members of an organization to identify their strengths and room for growth and explores the actions and next steps in that change process. As an early career clinician, I am developing an interest in social isolation–the relational dynamics that lead people to withdraw or push away from others. As a bisexual woman who has experienced erasure and witnessed the impact of oppression in multiple communities, I understand the importance of creating affirmative space in all the work I do.

What does affirmative psychotherapy mean to me? 

Affirmative psychotherapy moves beyond the individual rapport between client and therapist. It is an empowered approach to doing business. Affirmative therapy is personal, iterative, and integrated into all the parts of a clinical practice. Affirmative psychotherapy is a constant series of actions that support gender- and sexually expansive individuals to find their own voices and power in their own healing and growth.

What populations do I work with? What is my level of expertise (friendly, knowledgeable, expert) for each of those populations?

My community work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals is extensive. 

What is my approach to healing?

My approach to healing is two pronged. Through a community psychology lens, I work from organizational empowerment and prevention models. I see members of a community as the experts in their own strengths and challenges, and serve as a facilitator to help a group of people find a collective voice to begin healing the wounds of oppression and marginalization.

As a clinician, I am interested in the parts of self that feel most hidden, rejected, and buried. I work to create space between me and my patients to explore these spaces without judgement or criticism. In working through the grief and relational trauma that developed those hidden parts of self, my clients can begin to find more acceptance and compassion for themselves in a more complete way.


Education: Master of Arts in Psychology with a specialization in Applied Community Psychology

School: Antioch University Los Angeles

Year Graduated: 2020