New ASSIST therapist provides support to struggling students

September 29, 2023 — by Natalie Chua and Emily Wu
Photo by Emily Wu
Tamashiro provides a therapy session to a student in the ASSIST program.
ASSIST therapist Vicky Tamashiro hopes to help students who need emotional support reach personal goals through weekly counseling.

Achieving Student Success with Intervention Support and Therapy (ASSIST) program therapist Vicky Tamashiro has joined the school after managing therapists and counseling families and children across Santa Clara County for the past 30 years. 

The ASSIST program provides academic and emotional support to students struggling with challenging situations such as difficulty being around peers, anxiety and depression. The program is located in a portable building on the west side of the school. 

As a therapist in the program, Tamashiro provides counseling to ASSIST students on a weekly basis. Currently, she is working with fewer than 10 students.

“What’s best about therapy is that I don’t create the change, I witness and encourage it,” Tamashiro said. “There’s a feeling of accomplishment, not for me but for that person, that comes with therapy and I’m very happy to see them meeting their goal and doing what they set out to do.” 

While Tamashiro enjoys her current career, she initially wanted to become a veterinarian. While working at a residential treatment program, Tamashiro witnessed therapy-consulting and realized that she wanted to do more to support patients’ emotional well-being. 

Tamashiro realized she needed to get a master’s degree in order to conduct individual and family therapy. With her bachelor’s degree, she mainly applied for jobs working in classrooms or taking care of kids in residential facilities.

“I liked these jobs, but I wanted to do more. I needed further training and experience,” Tamashiro said.

As a result, Tamashiro decided to enroll in a master’s degree program at the University of San Francisco and graduated in two years with a family marriage and child therapy license. 

Tamashiro then worked at Chamberlain’s Mental Health in Gilroy for 23 years, providing clinical supervision for therapists as a part-time director while also providing therapy to eight of the students. 

She also went on to work as a clinical director at Alum Rock Counseling Center for 13 years. Although her role at Alum Rock didn’t involve working directly with kids, Tamashiro would often join other therapists to do so whenever she could.

“A lot of therapists aren’t trained in family therapy, and that’s my very favorite thing to do,” Tamashiro said. “It just brings me a lot of joy to do co-therapy with them and be able to work with families.”

Alongside her current job as an ASSIST Therapist at SHS, Tamashiro also teaches two classes for graduate students in their second year of clinical internship at Santa Clara University’s School of Counseling Psychology.

Before coming here, Tamashiro had not heard of the ASSIST Program. Through her weekly meetings with the students, she hopes to encourage them toward their goals and find satisfaction academically and socially. 

“I’m amazed at what the ASSIST program does and how much it can help the students grow,” Tamashiro said. “ASSIST is such a great environment that I’ve learned so much about since joining, and I’m excited to really get to know these students.”

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