The Where I Work series explores San Antonio’s evolving workplaces. It takes readers behind the scenes to learn from the people who work at companies large and small, nonprofits, family-owned enterprises, and in other nontraditional workplaces. Get in touch to share your story.

I’ve always been interested in health care, and especially in helping others in order to make a  positive change in this world. After taking a psychology course at Texas Lutheran University during my undergrad, I fell in love with mental health and changed my major from kinesiology to a major in psychology and Spanish. 

Narrowing down what I wanted to do with my degree wasn’t easy, but I had an amazing mentor in professor Carolyn Turner who sparked my interest in psychotherapy and counseling services. After testing the waters as an assistant manager at a retail store, I realized that I enjoyed the direct interaction with the clients and the employees but I wasn’t passionate about that job. That was my eye-opener to find a career in mental health where I was able to continue learning about psychology and human interaction.

After completing my master’s degree in counseling and guidance in mental health I was able to test to become a licensed professional counselor in the state of Texas. Currently, I’m a licensed professional counselor associate and I work at multiple companies virtually. 

In San Antonio, I work as a counselor with Betty’s Co., a new and growing company focused on women’s health. I also work at a private practice in Dallas called Transcend Wellness Boutique, which specializes in providing services for BIPOC communities. In the El Paso region, I work with Borderland Rainbow Center, a nonprofit serving the LGBTQ community. All my jobs are unique, and I am happy to be able to serve many communities across Texas.

Betty’s Co. is a health and wellness company based in San Antonio that serves women, particularly targeting young women who may not be getting regular health care. It aims to normalize and destigmatize women’s health. At Betty’s Co. I get to serve our young community in San Antonio, mostly college students, and sometimes attend events to promote women’s health and our mental health services in our community. 

Niyell Ascencio, MA, LPC- Associate joined the Betty's Co. team last fall and provides virtual and bilingual counseling sessions to help patients navigate their mental and sexual health.
Niyell Ascencio joined the Betty’s Co. team last fall and provides virtual and bilingual counseling sessions to help patients navigate their mental and sexual health. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

My specialty is working with people of color, specifically Hispanic women. For me, it’s important to work in women’s health because there are still many taboos that need to be addressed. As a woman, I feel the need to not only be a mental health provider but also an advocate and educator for other women.

Mornings are usually for keeping up with emails for my three jobs, and afternoons are full with back-to-back virtual sessions. The pandemic has made virtual sessions the norm, which I personally like because it’s more accessible to people, especially those who can’t leave their houses or those who are in rural areas. In the past, it was hard to find a virtual therapist and a lot of rules had to change for insurance to approve virtual care. Being virtual has given me the opportunity to work with patients from all over Texas, particularly those who might not have Spanish-speaking providers in their area. 

On all the teams I’m a part of, I’m one of the few Spanish-speaking therapists. I’m very proud of my Latin roots and grateful that my language and culture allow me to serve our community. It’s important for me to be able to provide mental health services in Spanish because there is a very big need for it and not enough Spanish-speaking therapists. The language barrier can prevent someone from getting the care they need because they are not able to communicate or maybe don’t feel comfortable enough to fully feel understood. 

No matter how busy my day is, I always make sure I schedule my lunch at noon, as part of my own mental health routine. At the end of my day, I review notes and treatments and follow up with patients and other emails and calls. I love being able to have the flexibility to not only be a therapist but also a mental health advocate and promote the importance of mental health. 

Niyell Ascencio, MA, LPC- Associate walks into the with Betty's Co. mobile clinic stationed at The Shops at La Cantera Tuesday. The new women’s health clinic offers in person and virtual appointments centered on comprehensive gynecology
Niyell Ascencio walks into the Betty’s Co. mobile clinic stationed at The Shops at La Cantera Tuesday. The new women’s health clinic offers in-person and virtual appointments centered on comprehensive gynecology Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

As a mental health provider, I like to educate people about mental health in order to help normalize it. When I am out with Betty’s Co. at events, that’s when I’ve been able to educate others about the importance of mental health services and the benefits of having an integrated women’s health model like Betty’s that allows us as providers to work together to better serve our patients’ needs.  

My work is very rewarding, and some of the best moments for me are when a patient is able to connect the dots on their own and have an “aha” moment. A lot of the time after that happens they start to excel in their treatment.

I hope to have a lot more of these moments in my work and am excited to be starting my own private practice on the side at the end of the year while continuing to build on my work as a mental health advocate for our community, not only here in San Antonio but in Texas. 

Niyell Ascencio, MA, LPC-A, provides counseling services through Betty's Co. in San Antonio, Transcend Wellness Boutique in Dallas, and Borderland Rainbow Center in El Paso.