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About Me

Licensed clinical psychologist and experienced EF coach

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In my 15+ years working with parents from migrant farm workers to founders of billion-dollar companies, I have learned that parents are trying their best with the tools and knowledge they have.


However, parents often struggle to understand how to support the unique strengths and challenges of their child and equip them with the emotional and practical skills they will need to succeed in a changing world.


I love being able to provide parents with the tools and knowledge they need to best support their unique child.


I draw from my specialized training from UCLA and UCSB in clinical psychology, brain development, and neuropsychology to provide tailored and evidence-based interventions.  


As a child, I lived in both Argentina and Minnesota, an experience that made me keenly focused on understanding the role of cultural dynamics in wellbeing and how to support children and families from a wide range of cultures and family compositions. In my free time, I love keeping up with my family living around the world, cooking new foods, and doing improv.

About Me: About

1.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

I have a deep understanding of what motivates people and how to help people thrive.


My specialties include adolescent mental health, adoption, and providing parents with the tools and knowledge to be effective and intentional parents.

2. 
Deep Understanding of Brain Science

I have over 6 years of experience conducting psycho-cognitive evaluations, including assessing executive functioning.


I am able to understand the cognitive, neurological, and socioemotional factors that impact a child's behaviors and identify next steps to leverage their strengths and improve areas of weakness. 

3. 
Passion for Teens and Young Adults

Adolescence is a pivotal time when teens are making decisions that have longterm impacts on their lives. Brains are developing rapidly at this age, and timely interventions can have long-lasting impacts on the teen, parents, and the family unit.

About Me: List

Executive Functioning Coaching

Providing students the tools and skills to become an efficient and flexible lifelong learner

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About Me: Welcome
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"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

About Me: Quote

Executive Functioning Coaching

EF coaching helps youth and adults develop strategies and skills to be able to demonstrate their full potential at school and at work.


Online learning has been particularly difficult for children with EF difficulties. Just a few sessions can help a child begin to feel more confident and more successful in school. 

Time management

Attention and focus

Organization

Cognitive flexibility

Task initiation

Planning and executing

Metacognition

Academic self-esteem

Although changes can be seen in the first few sessions, EF coaching requires commitment and persistence from the student and parent. Creating substantial change requires learning new mindsets, habits, and skills over time.

About Me: List

Dr. Mercedes' Approach

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About Me: Image

Frequently Asked Questions about Executive Functioning Coaching

What are EF skills?

Executive functioning (EF) skills are required for humans to effectively execute or perform tasks and solve problems. It is the “executive” part of our brain that when students are assigned a project at school, they can plan the project, start working on it with enough of time, anticipate and resolve problems, stay organized, and submit the project fully completed and on time.

How is EF coaching and tutoring different?

Tutoring focuses on helping students learn the specific content for a particular class. EF coaching develops the student’s skills that are required to be successful in all classes and work.

How do I know if my child will benefit from EF?

Generally, students that benefit from EF coaching when parents, teachers, or themselves notice a gap between their potential and their performance that is not due to challenges with content. For example, the child is generally able to understand the academic material, but their time management, planning, organization, study skills, etc. impacts their ability to display their potential and be successful.

When will I start to see results?

EF coaching is not quick, easy or cheap. Although changes can be seen in the first few sessions, it requires commitment from the student and parent.


My goal is to help students create substantial changes so they can be successful and happy in school and beyond. To do so, students not only need to learn new mindsets, systems & skills, but they need to develop new habits and routines, which require patience and persistence.

When is the best time to work with an EF coach?

EF deficits can impact children’s self-esteem, motivation, and family conflict. Thus, the best time to start EF coaching is as soon as a challenge is identified. However, generally, it is recommended that students begin EF coaching when they are beginning a transition to set up systems and strategies that will help them be successful during the transition.


Particularly challenging transitions for some students include virtual-learning due to COVID-19,

new school year, starting college, and juggling a demanding new extracurricular or college applications.


Adolescence is an ideal age for EF coaching. During this period, the brain undergoes significant growth and change largely centered in areas that support EF skills. As we get older, our brain eliminates the neurological connections we are not using, making it important to develop good habits in adolescence. If positive habits are established during this time, students can utilize them well into adulthood.

What is Dr. Mercedes’ philosophy?

Each of our brains looks a little different, with distinctive strengths and areas of weakness. Just like a muscle, the brain can grow through exercise and hard work. It is important for students to be aware of how their own brains work, learn how to train it to work more efficiently, increase their self-confidence, and recognize how to efficiently use external supports. By building a strong relationship and getting to know each student’s skills and needs, I am able to help students develop their awareness, increase their self-confidence, and increase their EF skills.

Are parents involved in EF coaching?

Yes! Strong communication with parents is key to student success. Although parents do not always participate in the coaching sessions, I check in routinely with parents to help them know:

  1. How to best support their child’s progress at home

  2. Assess what is working, and what may need to be tweaked or reworked

  3. Identify areas of growth and areas of need

Does my child need a diagnosis for EF coaching?

No. Although some diagnoses are sometimes associated with EF challenges (such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD), many children who with EF challenges do not have a diagnosis.


Although children with learning disabilities don’t always have problems with executive functioning, it is not uncommon for children with dyslexia or dyscalculia to also have difficulties with EF skills.

What causes EF difficulties?

There has been a lot of research into possible causes of EF difficulties. Although there is no simple answer, researchers have identified 2 main factors:

  1. Differences in brain development. Certain parts of the brain develop more slowly or differently in people that struggle with executive skills.

  2. Genes and hereditary. Students who struggle with executive functioning skills often have other family members who do as well.

What can parents do to help develop their child’s EF skills?

There are many things parents can do to support their child’s EF skills. However, what will be helpful for a particular child depends on many factors. Once I begin EF coaching and have been able to assess the child, I provide parents with specific strategies to implement at home. However, these are a few things that can generally be helpful:


  1. Celebrate success: Meet your child where they are at right now. Look for all small successes and build upon them. Make goals reachable and celebrate the wins!

  2. Ownership: Help your child understand how their brain may be a little different and the impotence of helping it “exercise.” Your child’s ownership and buy­-in are critical for the strategies to work.

  3. Timers: Timers can be very helpful to develop time management skills.

  4. Plan: Model for them how to make a plan, and talk aloud how you are thinking about it

  5. Routines: Effective routines, predictability, and routines that change as your child’s needs change.

What are your fees?

Coaching services are not considered therapeutic services and are thus not covered by insurance. Executive Function Coaching fees are pre-established and available by request.

About Me: FAQ
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Workshops and Presentations

I provide interactive and tailored presentations on a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:  

About Me: List

How to help parents help their teens navigate adolescence. 

Executive Skills 101 (for parents, schools, and teens)

Adapting parenting strategies during COVID-19.

The impact of early life experience on brain & development.

Impact of COVID-19 on how we think and feel.

Tantrums: how to help toddlers navigate their emotions.

Transracial adoptions 

Outcomes-based mental health technology

Contact Dr. Mercedes

I'd love to talk to you more. 

Please send me a message or give me a call to set up a free consultation.

818-860-2864

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