Joel Velazquez, LGPC, Esq.
Joel is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor specializing in the fields of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders. He obtained his Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He completed his internship at Advanced Behavioral Health in Gaithersburg, MD, where he treated children and their families suffering from anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders.
Joel’s journey into mental health therapy has been unconventional. Joel graduated with an economics degree, then a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then went on to represent Fortune 500 companies in white-collar criminal and civil litigation matters in Washington, D.C. Early in his career, seemingly out of nowhere, he started to experience anxious feelings and intrusive thoughts. He tried to receive help from various mental health professionals, but unfortunately talk therapy methods offered little relief. He started to learn more about mindfulness, to separate his identity from his thoughts and feelings, and to expose himself to his anxious thoughts and feelings — unbeknownst to him that these were some of the same principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP). Free from the fearful feelings and thoughts, Joel’s healing journey planted the seed for him wanting to help others recover from what he now knew to be anxiety and OCD.
Joel explored various healing modalities, including silent meditation retreats. Eventually, Joel took a break from his legal career and moved to Costa Rica, and then Gabon, Africa to train and work alongside traditional indigenous healers. These healers took a holistic approach to health, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and inner self. In this work, he helped hundreds of people get relief from anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders. This work further solidified his desire to pursue his master’s degree and become a licensed therapist.
Joel’s approach is to use his analytical legal background and the holistic paradigm of traditional indigenous healers, to implement the evidence-based modalities of ERP, CBT, and ACT therapies. He likes to use metaphors and stories to make abstract concepts into concrete and easy-to-understand solutions. His goal is to inspire hope and empower his clients to not only get relief from their symptoms, but to eventually see their anxiety as a portal to a more confident self.
In his free time, Joel enjoys spending quality time with his wife and his baby boy, studying biochemistry, martial arts, disc golf, and hiking in the woods. He is a native Spanish speaker.