About Dena Omar, LCSW
This section used to be full of info about where I’ve worked, where I went to school and what kind of therapy I do. But then I realized you’re not here for all that. You’re here because there’s something going on for you that you need help with. And you want to know if I’m the right therapist to help you.
I am an antiracist, feminist therapist who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. As an Arab American who was raised Muslim, I know how it feels to be outside the mainstream. As a person with fair skin and a feminine appearance, I know how it feels for my identities to be “invisible.” Because I have white privilege, I am working hard to unpack my racism so that I can do my part to dismantle white supremacy. I have a casual style sometimes punctuated with NSFW language. I’m an over-thinker who never stops learning.
My Anti-Oppression Journey
Coming to teach about anti-oppression therapy has been a long time in the making for me. I am the granddaughter of Muslim Syrian immigrants and raised in a (very) small (very) white town in Michigan. FYI: Michigan was FAR too cold for my desert dweller self. My parents did their best to teach us about Islam, even though we were isolated from the Muslim community. We celebrated Ramadan and Christmas. We got baskets of chocolate at Easter and donned headscarves to attend the Toledo Mosque for Islamic Eids (holidays).
In middle school, I was fortunate to have a social studies teacher who recognized the absence of “difference” in our community. He taught me that the concept of “melting pot” was one that erased the beauty of individuals, but that the concept of a “tapestry” could bring out the best in each of our cultures. My teacher asked my family to help educate other students about Islam. So, at a time when all I wanted was to “fit in,” I began teaching my peers and their parents about a faith that seemed alien and dangerous to my classmates. Those presentations continued through my high school years as we saw our country rocked by the First Gulf War.
I went to college in the mid-nineties, when sexual assault on campus was rampant, women were earning pennies to men’s dollars, and the numbers of women in leadership were abysmal. I found myself organizing Take Back the Night marches, Pride Parades, weekly Women’s Council meetings, Arab Cultural Socials, and Coming Out Day dances. I spent far too much time coordinating and protesting and not enough time studying. I struggled with aligning my faith with my new identities as a feminist and lesbian. Somehow, I managed to graduate with a BA in Women’s Studies and a fire for changing the world.
My professional work was always in the social services and non-profit organizations such as Girl Scouts of the USA (I’m still a Lifetime Member!), Human Services for the State of Michigan, and other small non-profit start-ups. But it didn’t feel like I was doing enough or integrating all the parts of me in my work. When Social Work found me, I was ready for new education, new opportunities and new communities. And what a journey it’s been!
I’m so excited that I can now bring together all of my hard work, life experiences and education to make changes in my therapy community. For all you fellow therapists, if you’re ready to start down your own anti-oppression journey I can help.
My adorable 15-year-old self
My Approach to Counseling
I think of myself as a long-term therapist. That means I’ll devote time to getting to know you, building a relationship and understanding where you’re coming from. Therapy is an investment we’re both making in your future. And the most important part of the equation is the relationship you and I have with each other.
Types of therapy I do:
Lots of people are hearing about EMDR lately. And, it is a very good tool to help you recover from trauma, anxiety, depression and many other illnesses. As an EMDR trained therapist, it is an option for the work we do together. We will spend time really fleshing out your individual needs before we jump into EMDR. EMDR is part of the therapy that we’ll do, but not the only thing.
DBT Skills are extremely helpful to anyone who is struggling with being present (Mindfulness), with relationships or with tolerating difficult situations. We can integrate these skills into the therapy we do or we can focus intensely on the skills. We’ll decide together what direction might help you most.
Internal Family Systems therapy is about addressing the different “parts” that live in each of us. One part of you may be angry, while another part feels scared. That can be so confusing! We’ll work hard to make sense of what’s going on and to help you find your “best adult self” who can most effectively “drive the bus.”
You’ll notice I tend to talk in metaphors and stories. True to form, I’m going to give you one last story before you leave my website:
When I was working on leaving my full-time job and starting a private practice, I talked with a good friend about the name of the business. She suggested I start with something I love. I am a quilter. It makes my heart happy to create something beautiful for, and with, people I love. When I make a quilt, I take an amazing piece of fabric, cut it up, and sew it back together into something even more meaningful, connected and stronger. Therapy also works like this. Together, we will examine the struggles you face, work to cut them apart, and reassemble the pieces to create the image you want.
I may not walk in your shoes, but I will always do my best to stay focused on the picture you’re painting for your life and do my best to help you get there.
If you think we might be a good fit, get in touch for a free phone consultation!
Credentials & Other Boring Stuff
- Arizona State University, Tucson, AZ
Master’s in Social Work, May 2008
- Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Bachelor of Arts, Women’s Studies, May 1998
- Dena Omar Consulting, LLC
- Piecing Solutions Together, LLC
- Community Partnership Care Coordination
- Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
- La Frontera Center, Inc.
- Compass Behavioral Health MICA Program
- AZBBHE Supervisor Training | 2012
- AZBBHE Supervisor Registry | Current
- Serving Our Veterans – Behavioral Health Certificate | 2012
- EMDR Level I & II Trained | 2010
- Dialectic Behavioral Therapy | 2009
Other Random Stuff About Me:
- Girl Scouts of the USA, Lifetime Member
- Member, National Association of Social Workers
- Past President, Tucson Modern Quilt Guild