A full-circle story of a therapist’s journey
Not the end of her story
Cynthia Barboza, knows firsthand how transformational counseling can be. She flipped the script of her own story and is now providing counseling with The Center at PACT partner Brother Bill's Helping Hand (BBHH) in West Dallas in the same office where she received counseling. Read her inspiring story below and see why she's a gift to our team.
“The first time I heard about counseling at Brother Bill’s I was living with my parents,” said Cynthia Barboza, LMSW, resident and therapist at The Center working onsite at PACT partners BBHH and Buckner Family Hope Centers. “I moved back to Dallas from Mexico and was three months pregnant with my third child. I had left a very difficult relationship with my children’s father. I didn’t have a job or a car.
“I came to Brother Bill’s with my mom to get groceries. I remember standing in the lobby and saw one of the flyers with all the services listed including counseling. I had been looking for counseling at other places and it didn’t work out because I didn’t have insurance, or it was too far away. Brother Bill’s was just down the street from where we lived.
“Knowing that this resource was freely available simply because of where I lived was a blessing. I was ready to sign up.
“My third child was a newborn when I began my counseling sessions in September 2016. I remember my first couple of sessions were upstairs in a room surrounded by storage boxes because they were finishing up the space downstairs. I didn’t care. I just wanted someone to hear me out and they did.
“Then we started meeting downstairs when the counseling room became furnished. We worked on the symptoms of depression and anxiety, the grief and loss of my relationships. My children were also in the process of being diagnosed with autism. It was overwhelming because I was an unemployed single mom, living with my parents.
“My therapist helped me work on improving my functioning so I could get a job. She helped me accept the reality of what had happened to me. I had gone through trauma and was living with that past trauma. Over time, I was able to increase my strength and obtain the courage to set real goals and dreams.
“After processing and accepting what had happened – I realized it wasn’t the end – it wasn’t the end of my story. I learned there were options and there was hope. Without counseling this would not have happened.
“I started community college. I identified my degree interest and started going after my education. I was able to move out of my parents’ home and move to Buckner Family Pathways Program (which provides affordable housing for single parents enrolled in school fulltime). There, I started my bachelor’s degree in social work.
“Because I had moved from West Dallas, I was unable to continue counseling at Brother Bill’s (after almost two years), but Buckner started providing counseling for me. I was at Buckner for three years. During that time, I completed my bachelors and master’s degrees during the pandemic with my three kids. I graduated with my master’s and started working fulltime at Dallas Child & Family Guidance Center.
“I passed my LMSW (Licensed Master of Social Work) exam and wanted to go for the LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Work) exam and remembered The Center from when I was at Brother Bill’s. I looked up The Center’s website and reached out letting them I know I was interested in obtaining clinical hours toward my degree.
“I began at The Center on February 28 of this year providing counseling through the PACT Program at Brother Bill’s down the street from my parents. I look back at my life with gratitude. My children are now 10, 7 and 5 and I’m engaged to be married. I feel truly blessed to have been able to receive these blessings, these programs. If it wasn’t for these programs and grant, I wouldn’t have healed. I wouldn’t have recovered as great as I have from my past and I wouldn’t have obtained the strength to fight to get to where I am now.
“I’m able to use all these experiences in my career now. It’s been an easy transition back to Brother Bill’s. It’s surprisingly comfortable because I’ve been in my clients’ shoes and can relate to them so much. The empathy just flows and it's natural. I’m very devoted because I want to help them - because I know they can recover and heal - with the right help.
“Donors and foundations don’t get to see the end story of the people they are often helping. If they only knew the impact and the potential that comes from their generosity - I know they would experience the true joy that I feel. And when I reflect on the impact of the generosity of others, it makes me want to be even more generous with my talents and time," concluded Cynthia.
Families living in communities of generational poverty face invisible barriers to receiving life-saving counseling – such as language, geography, transportation, finances, and social stigma. It’s a brutal cycle. Mental illness prevents families from finding stability and ending the cycle of poverty, and children from reaching their potential in school. Our mental health services help clients being served at our 11 PACT partner locations develop transformational skills that help change stories such as Cynthia's. Counseling and psychological assessments are offered for children, teens, families, and adults. Learn more about PACT here.