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Sometimes you have to break some rules. Or bend them. Maybe just a little. Therapists are taught not to reveal too much about themselves, but Youth ALIVE! mental health counselor Angelina Gutierrez says opening up — a little — helps her clients trust her. “If I want them to trust me I need to show that I trust them, that I value them.” And it’s a great way to find out what interests or experiences client and therapist might have in common. It’s all part of Angelina’s effort to build a relationship, to create a connection that will open up avenues to healing for young people affected by violence. Youth ALIVE! counselors rarely see clients in the office; they head out into the field to meet people, at their homes, at school, wherever the client feels safe. Angelina says that time with clients at home can give insight into their support system, or can reveal additional issues they might need help with. Angelina grew up in Oakley, in the far East Bay. Her dad’s family was from Cuba, and she inherited his addiction to coffee and his outgoing personality. Somewhere along the way, through personal loss and observation, she also developed what she says is a strong understanding of grief, how it isn’t always about losing a loved one, but sometimes about losing your past, your health, your life the way it was. Angelina has long been interested in how environment influences personality and behavior. That’s what led her into this healing work. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a masters in counseling, both from Sonoma State. At Youth ALIVE!, she loves how all the programs for violence prevention, intervention and healing interact and cooperate to support clients in whatever way they need. “I feel like I’m part of something here,” she says. She loves being out in the field with clients, going all over Oakland, whether it’s a home on 105th or a restaurant in Fruitvale. Recently she took a young client, a high school senior, up to Sacramento to visit a college. It might not be the kind of thing you’d see in a counseling textbook. But some rules are meant to be bent. Maybe just a little.