Melissa J Johnson, PhD

Licensed Psychologist (PSY 13102)

CEO + Founder

“It’s a journey…that I propose…I am not the guide…nor the technical assistant…I will be your fellow passenger…” ~ Nikki Giovanni


What will life feel like when you flourish?

What will life be like when we all flourish?

We, as a team, have been thinking about these questions a lot – particularly during these uniquely challenging and difficult times for individuals, families and communities. As someone who loves gardening and makes a practice of eating something each day from the potted herbs on my deck, I’m drawn to the notion of a robust and diverse healing garden. In the garden, there are plants that delight our five senses – what our eyes see, the textures we might feel, the fragrances and aromas and tastes we might savor. Sustenance comes from different kinds of soil. Thriving happens in a unique mix of sunlight, nutrients, and water.  Depending on the plant. Depending on the season. I so value the vulnerable and courageous exploration of healing options for a particular moment while honoring each humans’ unique identities, cultural stories, and creative, sacred therapeutic work.

These days, in my work as a therapist, I’m playing in the garden of “flow states” to help humans of all ages and all genders enrich their lives. These include mindfulness, guided imagery, clinical hypnosis and self-compassion practices – all supported by modern science, even if they are an ancient tradition.  Using these practices and powerful skills can help enhance resilience and a sense of empowerment, shift the way the mind and body work together, change the way regulation happens, and support healing and growth. As a breast cancer survivor with a health psychology and feminist theory background, I appreciate working with those dealing with health and anxiety challenges, chronic pain, and medical procedural preparation. Many of the people who work with me do so adjunctively, while their more comprehensive work is done with their primary therapist. In these situations, I value collaborating with you and your primary therapist to see how flow states might support your life and goals. For more about my work with girls and school communities, check out my bio at the Institute for Girls’ Development site. 

All of my degrees are from USC – a PhD in Counseling Psychology, a Master’s degree in Education,  and a graduate certificate in Gender Studies. As a fourth-generation educator in my family, I love my role as a teacher and trainer – and am humbled by what I myself learn every day in the process. I’ve taught at USC and the University of La Verne; I frequently provide continuing education programs for mental health professionals and head up the training programs here at the Institute for Girls’ Development and Flourish.

Mary Oliver once said, “I simply do not distinguish between work and play.” I get that. So, it feels appropriate to say here that along with my dedication to supporting positive mental health and community healing, I gravitate to activities that nurture mind, body and spirit – things like yoga, qigong, breath work, self-compassion practices, growing plants on my deck, cooking, writing and hanging out with my partner.