Jessica Gallo introduces clients to the Mommy Tribe
Story By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | photo by LUIS CHAVEZ
Jessica Gallo says she feels women need to be supported. They take on their fair share of work within and outside of the family.
“It weighs us down for sure,” she says.
For 15 years, Gallo has worked as a psychotherapist for pregnant women, moms, young adults and teens. Her services include one-on-one therapy, postpartum planning and parenting support. Additionally, she runs a postpartum support group.
“I’ve worked with a lot of children and with mothers who were really in need,” says Gallo, a Playa Vista resident. “I’ve done a lot of trauma work, too.
“A lot of families I’ve worked with really struggled with their own histories of trauma and mood disorders and it was really difficult to show up the way they wanted to show up in parenting. I saw that year after year.”
Through her work, Gallo has found that women who are supported share that healthy spirit with their families and friends. Gallo says she had a “transformative” experience when she became a mother.
“Even as a therapist, and all the research available to me and all of the knowledge, I was not completely immune of the intensity of the transition to motherhood,” she says.
“I’ve really found myself drawn to work with pregnant women, new moms and parenting women, and just really support them through their journeys.”
Mothers, Gallo continues, find their identities shift, and with the pandemic, mothers were taking on the brunt of the work.
“They’ve held us through this pandemic,” she says. “There is so much healing that needs to happen.”
Expanding her practice
Now that Gallo’s son is starting school, the licensed clinical social worker is expanding her practices in Santa Monica and Playa Vista/Culver City. She accepts clients from throughout California for virtual appointments.
Gallo takes a holistic and authentic approach. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her practice. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California with a concentration in children and families.
The LA native has provided individual, group and family therapy and served as a program director and clinical supervisor for mental health organizations. During her career, she has developed and facilitated psychoeducational workshops and support groups for adolescents, parents and other professionals.
“It’s really an honor to walk with someone through their experience and to support them and help them be in the driver’s seat of their life,” she says.
“We often go through life on automatic and it’s these repeat patterns that get us stuck. I see therapy as a way to help people be intentional and make life choices with their eyes open.”
Gallo does not work exclusively with women, as she has teenage clients of all genders.
“Less people work with teens,” she says. “It’s a trickier population, but I enjoy working with them. It’s a pivotal time. They’re going through a big life transition. That’s how people end up coming to me. They’re feeling stuck or they’re having mood issues or relationship issues. They’re wanting some nurturing support through that.”
Post-partum planning is important to Gallo and it is part of her individual sessions with new moms. Building a community is a key task for moms.
“We’re not meant to do this mothering thing alone,” she says. “The way we’ve set it up with modern motherhood is unfair to moms.”
Gallo hosts The Mommy Tribe, a series of workshops and support to develop a nonjudgmental supportive community; safe space to process; practical tools for managing the emotional load of motherhood; and information around healthy attachment and mindfulness practices. Common topics include shifting family dynamics, healing from traumatic birth, hormonal shifts, relationship challenges, unpacking family of origin issues, self-image and depression/anxiety.
“My next workshop is going to be a collaboration with a local woman who does post-partum fitness,” Gallo says of Crystal Ferris of Momleta.
“The workshop is a hybrid—mindfulness support for half and she’s going to do light movement that can help women recover or prepare for birth. It’s in the works. We’re planning it right now. We’ll probably host it in August.”
Gallo purposely chose a career that required constant learning; one that wasn’t stagnant. Clients come to Gallo with different sets of experiences and that helps increase her knowledge base as well.
“Each experience opens the door to something new,” she says. “They’re all related and connected with a thread somehow.”
Gallo says she frequently hears her profession must be “hard.” That isn’t how she would describe it.
“It’s gratifying,” she says. “It’s intense work and that’s part of why I do a lot of my own professional development, so I can show up in my best form. I really do get to see people make these shifts and change their relationships to handle the difficult things in their lives.”