This is Who I Am

A writer and sto­ry­teller at the core, Heri­na Ayot holds a Mas­ter’s in Clin­i­cal Coun­sel­ing for Men­tal Health and Well­ness, and an MFA in Cre­ative Writ­ing from NYU, craft­ing nar­ra­tives that reframe trau­ma, pain, and redemp­tion from an expe­ri­en­tial and exis­ten­tial approach. Find her work in the Huff­in­g­ton Post,, and The Root. She obtained her Bach­e­lor’s degree in Psy­chol­o­gy with a minor in inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism. Tak­ing an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach, Heri­na is active­ly explor­ing what it means to be human, and has joined her curios­i­ty for research with nar­ra­tive sto­ry­telling in an aim to improve and impact lives of mar­gin­al­ized people.

In her role as a psy­chother­a­pist, she pro­vides ther­a­py for indi­vid­u­als that seek to have a more ful­fill­ing life, includ­ing but not lim­it­ed to those who have expe­ri­enced involve­ment with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. Her clients include for­mer­ly incar­cer­at­ed indi­vid­u­als, and those under the sur­veil­lance mech­a­nisms of parole, pro­ba­tion, and oth­er forms of com­mu­ni­ty super­vi­sion. She assists those that have dif­fi­cul­ty with chron­ic anger, sad­ness, those that wor­ry too often, those strug­gling with unsat­is­fy­ing rela­tion­ships, indi­vid­u­als who want to explore self actu­al­iza­tion, those in the midst of grief or loss, and those man­ag­ing the inter­sec­tion of mar­gin­al­ized identities.

She pro­vides a safe and warm space to unpack and dis­sect emo­tions and cog­ni­tions, using an inte­gra­tion of Com­pas­sion-Focused (CFT) psy­cho­dy­nam­ic, and Gestalt ther­a­pies. Emer­gent psy­chother­a­py approach­es such as vipas­sana med­i­ta­tion, Nar­ra­tive Ther­a­py, Mind­ful­ness-based cog­ni­tive ther­a­py (MBCT), and Accep­tance and Com­mit­ment Ther­a­py (ACT) are meant to increase self aware­ness and thus pos­i­tive­ly influ­ence com­pas­sion for the self and for oth­ers. She uses her exper­tise to care­ful­ly and respect­ful­ly help indi­vid­u­als devel­op insight around uncon­scious process­es, past pat­terns, rela­tion­ship trends, and cur­rent behaviors.

Fur­ther, as a cur­rent doc­tor­al stu­dent in Crim­i­nol­o­gy at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­ches­ter (UOM), she is devel­op­ing a research pro­pos­al on the role of shame and neg­a­tive self con­cept in persistence/desistance from crime that may have impli­ca­tions for psy­chother­a­py approach­es to treat­ment. In pre­vi­ous roles, she has inter­faced with at-risk young adult men and ex-offend­ers, first in a prison reen­try orga­ni­za­tion called Project Renew­al, and lat­er at a New York City based prison advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion called The Cor­rec­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of New York.

Mitchell Ugwuezi

“Ever since I learned how to hold a pen­cil, I’ve cre­at­ed art on can­vas.  If my words and expe­ri­ences can be inspi­ra­tion, encour­age­ment or com­fort for anoth­er, I’ve lived my life well. I am not so naïve to believe my writ­ing can change the world, but at the very least, it may change my read­er. I am for­ev­er a work in progress. Life is a jour­ney. I like to take the scenic route.”