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Henry Meraz, LCSW

Owner/Clinical Director


Passion and dedication to helping others

Lacie Turner, LMFT
Clinical Supervisor

Donald Turnmire, LMFT
Clinical Supervisor

I’m Henry Meraz, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist working in Fresno, CA. I am here to guide you through life’s most complex and difficult matters. I truly care about my patients’ well-being and guarantee top of the line counseling and psychological services catered to their needs.

I was born and raised in the Central Valley of California and understand some of complex issues that may arise. I completed by BA at UCLA and my MSW at USC. I have over ten years of clinical training in mental health. My training took place primarily in Los Angeles. I have worked in healthcare, community mental health, non-profit advocacy, colleges, and now in private practice settings. My diverse experience has allowed me to learn about people from all over the world and with an array of obstacles.


I am most proud of my training that I have received to help individuals dealing with trauma, anxiety, and depression. I also have years of commitment working with LGBTQIA+ populations; including the transgender community and have assisted many through gender therapy and the transition process. I see myself as a much needed resource for the community. Get in touch with me today for more information.

WPATH Member, EMDR Trained, Gottman Levels 1 & 2, TRM Level 1, Gender Asset


Life is full of wonder & beauty, as well as pain and heartbreak. Sometimes, & often, we go through life learning to hide parts of ourselves that have felt rejected, abandoned, hurt, & so on. We learn to only give comfort and attention to parts of ourselves that have felt loved, happiness, and understanding. What we often don’t notice is how ignoring parts of ourselves that have felt pain can cause feelings of depression, anxiety, trauma, low self-esteem, and much more. Often, we notice how our emotions, our thoughts, and our bodies react to certain situations that trigger those hidden parts to resurface, & then struggle with coping.

My approach to therapy is as a holistic therapist that focuses on the person and their goals/needs. My goal is to create a safe & open space for people to explore their inner worlds more deeply. With my knowledge & training in Yoga, EMDR, & Therapy, I help individuals become more comfortable in their bodies, & build awareness with their thoughts & emotions.

My role as a therapist is to offer you support and space to un-anchor yourself from heavy emotions that you have carried for so long. This space in therapy is to look at those emotions within yourself through a lens of love, compassion, acceptance, and understanding. This journey is your journey and I am here to bare witness to your beautiful adventure.

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Meet The Team

Jacqueline Johnson, LMFT
LGBTQ+ Licensed Therapist


Hello, my name is Jacqueline Johnson, and I am an Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who aims to help individuals achieve wellness in life. I completed my Masters in Science in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling at Fresno State University. I have experience as a community mental health therapist, Community Outpatient Therapist, and working in Private Practice. Before I received my Masters Degree I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I have 10+ years working with the Central Valley community. I have enjoyed working with diverse populations, educating myself on barriers one may experience, and obstacles different communities face. 


I have participated in a wide range of training that have enhanced my therapeutic skills, trainings such as; Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, LGBTQ+ Trainings, Motivational Interviewing, and Solution Focused. I enjoy working with Couples, Families, Teenagers, and Adults/Individuals. My primary goal as a therapist is to empower my clients, help my clients achieve what they perceive as wellness, and healing. I strive to provide a safe place for individuals to share their life experiences, goals, strengths, and stressors within their lives.


I am passionate, I am person centered, and I meet my client’s where they are at. The road to personal growth is within your hands. You are the driver of your car and I look foreword to being in the passenger seat helping you get to your desired place in life. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

DBT Trained & Actively in EMDR Training

Currently not accepting new clients

Corion Duran, LMFT
LGBTQ+ Licensed Therapist


Life can difficult, sometimes you find yourself in a place and you're not quite sure how you got there, feel stuck, or don't know where to go next. We can often feel overwhelmed by our emotions and thoughts. While emotions can be painful, they are a necessary part of life. We often react to our emotions in ways that only increase our suffering. Despite this we are capable of feeling our emotions fully and still living a valued life, we can learn to accept the necessary pain in life without amplifying it for ourselves. I approach therapy in a way that often involves identifying the things we value in life most and developing skills to help us get over the hurdles that prevent us from living those values. My hope in therapy is that you will walk away from it feeling closer to the life you want for yourself.


I work with adults, children, families and people in relationships. I also have significant experience and commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community. My experience includes working with issues such as depression, anger, and general life issues, while I also specialize in trauma and anxiety. It is my belief that therapy should be affirming of your core identity and help you to build a trust in yourself. Central to my approach with anyone is the idea that only you can define your identity and experience. Therapy should be for anyone and everyone, and I tailor my work to the needs of the people sitting with me. My approach to therapy is influenced by Person-Centered Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as well as the Gottman Institute and Structural Family Therapy.  If you have any questions regarding therapy with me I'd be happy to answer them.

Jose Cruz Alejo, AMFT

LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist

Hi, I am Jose Alejo, a registered Associate Marriage Family Therapist. My primary goal for clients is to create a safe and accepting space so that inner healing can occur. My therapeutic foundation consists of a Mindfulness, Expressive Art, and Client Centered approach. I do believe it is important to tailor therapy for the specific needs and goals of clients and I aim to provide the treatment that clients require. 

Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of working with diverse populations including: Teenagers, individuals on the spectrum, LGBTQ+ individuals, Families, couples, children, and homeless youth.  I have been able to assist clients in managing and resolving their challenges with Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Self-Esteem, life Adjustments, and Identity. 

I received my education from California State University, Fresno. First receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Art and secondly obtaining a Master’s of Science degree in Marriage Family Child Counseling. 

Inside and outside of the therapy room I am to lead with Authenticity, Compassion, and a dedication to personal growth. I hope to empower my clients to lead with their own values and pursue a meaningful and purposeful life.  I am here to walk beside you on your journey to healing.


Supervised by Donald Turmire, LMFT#118711

Laura Thomas, AMFT
LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist


I’m Laura, a registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. My pronouns are she/they, but you can also refer to me using pronouns she/her. I’m a biracial therapist with South Asian (Indian) roots, and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community passionate about serving this community. I know starting therapy can be hard, as we may feel like no one understands us, our struggles or our story. We can have trouble understanding our emotions, or building healthy relationships. Therapy can be a safe, confidential space to unpack your specific struggles. 


As a therapist, I’ve had the privilege of working with a diverse population of clients in various settings seeking clarity with a wide range of issues. Some of these include processing trauma, navigating/managing anxiety and depression, and providing safety in exploration and celebration of identity. I enjoy building strong client-therapist relationships, facilitating client journeys and conducting sessions imbued with humor, compassion, and warmth. 


I take a relational, integrative, trauma-informed and culturally sensitive approach to therapy with each client, as therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. As a human first, I understand each client has unique needs, backgrounds, and external factors to consider. My therapeutic approach used Attachment, Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy among others. My clinical focus areas include identity exploration, ADHD, anxiety, depression, improving emotional regulation, and relationship issues. My experience ranges from pre-teens, teens, couples, young adult and adult populations. 


If you think I would be a good fit for you, please reach out to schedule an appointment. I’m also open to any questions you may have about therapy. 

EMDR Therapy, TF-CBT, Gottman Level 1, and Gender Affirming Care

Supervised by Lacie Turner, LMFT#110577

Paul "Daniel" Karkoska, AMFT
LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist

Supervised by Donald Turnmire, LMFT#118711


I'm Daniel Karkoska, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. While pursuing degrees in Psychology and then Marriage and Family Therapy I spent a lot of my life being active. In college I competed for the swim team and in grad school I took up hiking and rock climbing. My experience as a swim coach and in social services (foster care, school based, and community mental health) have broadened my perspective on the mental and physical struggles we all share as humans. 


In therapy, I am passionate about supporting the LGBT community. I seek to fully understand the unique lived experiences of my clients and assist them in alleviating stress while pursuing growth. I believe we all are doing our best and with help can improve our lives in the ways we desire. My approach includes a stance firmly rooted in humanistic and attachment theories. As such, when working with couples I utilise Emotion Focused Therapy (Johnson) which focuses on what is going on in each changing moment. Individually I use the structure of CBT/DBT techniques to help clients discern patterns of thought and behavior that are leading to unwanted circumstances in their lives and gaining skills to structure their future in more desirable ways. I look forward to working with you to change your life for the better.

EMDR Trained, CBT Trained, Gottman Level 1

Wesley Ervin, AMFT
LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist

Hi! I’m Wesley-Martin Ervin and I am an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist here at SAAC. I was born and raised here in the Central Valley, and I am proud to be able to give back to the community that raised me through my work as a therapist. I received my BA in Psychology at Pepperdine University, and my Masters in Counseling at Fresno State.


My work as an AMFT is mostly focused on the LGBTQ+ community. I identify as queer and genderqueer, so I am ecstatic to be able to work with my community and help those who are still learning about themselves or are struggling with something related to their identity. I also work with trans and GNC clients to get letters of support written for their transition process.


Along with this, my therapeutic approach tends to be from the perspective of pop culture and fandom. I am a Certified Geek Therapist and Certified Therapeutic Game Master, with several hours of additional training from Geek Therapeutics. This means that a lot of my work embraces pop culture and the like, using media and gaming for examples, metaphors, and coping skills. I use this frame of reference to help clients on processing trauma, grief and loss, changing life settings, and confidence building, just to name a few topics. I am in the process of planning groups around the topics of confidence building, identity, and general skills building, so keep an eye out!


Certified Geek Therapist, Gottman Level 1, and CBT Trained

Supervised by Donald Turnmire, LMFT#118711


Laurel Barnett, MSW
LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist

Supervised by Henry Meraz, LCSW#72943

Hi! My name is Laurel Barnett, and I am an associate clinical social worker. I received my bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from California State University, Fresno, and graduated summa cum laude in both my undergraduate and graduate studies. I was born and raised in the Central Valley and have made it my professional goal to improve culturally sensitive services for the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the Valley. For my graduate thesis, I interviewed various members of the Community about their lived experiences and presented my findings to an array of directors from public health and social service agencies throughout the Central California area--from San Luis Obispo to Stanislaus County--with the hope of enlightening and effecting systemic change. 


Prior to joining the Safe and Affirmative Counseling team, I had the pleasure of forming and serving adoptive families for four years, through which I gained insight into the inherent facets of the triadic family structure and associated, though often unrecognized, components of grief and loss. Additionally, I have served individuals, couples, and families as a clinician in the private practice setting with an eclectic client base; I have worked with children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. Through a trauma-focused lens and the CBT modality, I have also treated veterans and Southeast Asian refugees to reclaim their sense of power over their symptoms of post-traumatic stress. I'd be honored to work alongside you to reclaim your sense of power and bolster your personal growth. 

Gottman Levels 1 & 2, CBT Trained, EMDR Trained, Mindfulness Excursions 

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Sara Vazquez Aguirre, AMFT
LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist

Hello, my name is Sara Vazquez Aguirre and I am a first generation Latina. My pronouns are she/her and I am a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I am a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist working under direct clinical supervision toward licensure.

I received my Masters of Science in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling through CSU Fresno.  I am Central Valley raised and have worked with Central Valley communities under various capacities for the past 12 years.

I primarily use a Person Centered approach as I strive to help my clients as humans first and work together as a therapeutic partner. Over the past 3 years as a therapist I have worked in Community Mental Health providing psychotherapeutic services in English and/or Spanish to children, adults, families, and foster youth. I have supported my clients with processing trauma/complex trauma, depression, anxiety, grief,  relational concerns and life adjustments.

My hope is to provide a safe and affirming space as you work through your therapeutic journey as your most authentic self.

EMDR Trained, CBT Trained, Gottman Level 1

Supervised by Donald Turnmire, LMFT#118711


Jamie DiMeco, AMFT
LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist

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I’m Jaime DiMeco, a registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, with a Masters of Science degree in Counseling.


I’ve had the honor to serve a beautiful spectrum of clients across the Central Valley with a variety of therapeutic needs and goals. I have worked extensively with clients to improve trauma, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Throughout the cultivation of each of these relationships I have watched individuals transform their lives by learning and utilizing evidence-based concepts and strategies. I’ve celebrated with my clients, witnessing their transformations, deepening their relationships, and thriving through identifying a positive sense of self and confidence in their newfound life-affirming skills.


As a therapist, I take a whole-person approach with each client. It is my desire to get to know you, and help facilitate lasting positive impacts by providing support, tools, and structure within a safe space to identify strengths, work through weaknesses, as well as identify and strategize effective methods to address challenges and reach meaningful goals.


If you are ready to make real changes in your life, I would be glad to connect to determine if my service is the right fit for you.

TF-CBT Trained, DBT, EMDR Trained 

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Supervised by Lacie Turner, LMFT#110577

Vanessa Cabrera, APCC
LGBTQ+ Associate Therapist

Vanessa (she/her) identifies as a first-generation cis-gender, pansexual, Mexican-American. Vanessa grew up in Sanger, California but has also lived in Visalia and Fresno/Clovis. She graduated from Sanger High School and went to Fresno City College where she was able earn her Associate of Science Degree in Human Services, Social Work Option. She then transferred to California State University, Fresno to earn her Bachelor of Art’s degree in Sociology.


She has worked within the State Center Community College District at both Fresno City College and Clovis Community Colleges in various capacities as well as State Center Community College Foundation. She spent some time working in a non-profit as an AmeriCorps VISTA as a Volunteer Coordinator for two elementary schools in Fresno Unified School District.


Vanessa graduated Summer 2020 from the Masters of Science program in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at California State University, Fresno where she also received two certificates: one in racial understanding and the other in cultural competency. While in her graduate program, she worked at the Wayfinders program and completed her practicum at the Access and Abilities Center at the College of Sequoias in Visalia, California. Vanessa fulfilled her internship requirements for graduate school at Livewell Behavioral Health Counseling Center.


Vanessa ventured to a new career opportunity to gain clinical skills working specifically with the teen population by being employed with Family Foundations Counseling Services to provide mental health services to various students at McLane High School in Fresno, California. Vanessa has always had such a passion to help people in any capacity that she was able to. Vanessa understands the difficulty and pressures of being a first-generation college student and American as well as living below poverty for some time.


Vanessa’s clinical experience is working with anxiety, depression, abandonment/attachment issues, and grief/loss, and adults with intellectual, developmental, and/or physical disabilities. She enjoys specifically working with adolescents, teens, adults, veterans (her partner is a United States Marine Corps veteran), and LGBT+ populations. Vanessa enjoys reading, trying new food and recipes, baking with her daughter, watching the Raiders, Lakers, and San Francisco Giants, and going to the beach with her friends and family when she can. Vanessa uses social media as her self-care and as a creative outlet. 

EMDR Trained & CBT Trained

Supervised by Henry Meraz, LCSW #72934


Susie Meraz
Office Coordinator


Hello, my name is Susie. I am the Office Coordinator here at Safe and Affirmative Counseling. My job here is to oversee the office operations, schedule new clients and answer any questions you may have. 


I have an Associates degree in Business Office Administration. I have over 10 years of office experience as well as over 10 years in customer service. 


As an Ally I am proud to support the LGBTQ community. 


My goal here at Safe and Affirmative Counseling is to make our clients', and their families experiences here, a positive one. 

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