Elisa Salazar, LMSW

I've always wanted to help people and I was curious about people's lives, about why some people weren't getting the help they needed.


Elisa graduated from Grand Valley State University with her Master's degree in 2010. Her background is in diverse settings including juvenile justice, special education, and substance abuse; however, she has spent most of her career as a therapist working with children, families, and individuals from mild to severe mental illness. She received extensive training as a Dialectical Behavioral Therapist and has been at GVSU since 2017 as their work-life consultant. In this role, she helps faculty and staff connect to resources and address work-life balance issues. 


In 2017, a few days before starting her new role at Grand Valley State University, Elisa’s ex-husband and father of her two children was struck by a drunk driver as he was walking home. The day following the accident, he was in a coma with severe head trauma. Thankfully, he survived, but with severe physical ailments and a traumatic brain injury.


Elisa was left to provide strength, consistency, and emotional support for her two young children, ages 8 and 10 at the time. Through this, she realized that life happens to all of us, and it can be very hard to bounce back from a difficult life event. 


The topic of resiliency became interesting, actually imperative to Elisa as she found herself trying to adjust to her new normal. She admits that she struggled. There were family and friends that gently encouraged her to explore the concepts of self-compassion and self-care, the same concepts she is passionate about sharing with the folks that she serves. 


After this gentle reminder to “practice what you preach,” Elisa decided to join a gym to build a sense of mastery as a way to refuel not only her physical energy, but also her mental wellbeing. Through this experience, she became interested in what it might look like to apply these concepts that are proven to apply to stamina, energy, illness prevention, and overall well-being to our emotional lives. In an effort to foster that resiliency, Elisa began working to offer a new way to think about resourcing emotional wellness tools in times of peace, chaos, pain, and change.


And so, Emotional Strength Training was created. This training was developed with the idea of supporting people who help other people; the intention is to hold space for those who do so much for others, and allow time to reflect on oneself. This training was born out of Elisa’s personal healing journey and she hopes to share some insight into what helped her, as well as create a community of support around self-compassion and healing.


If you would like to learn more about the training, see the Emotional Strength Training handout (link). To receive this training, contact Elisa by using the form below.