Dr. Ana Maria Sierra is a psychologist specializing in children--birth through adolescence--and families with a variety of concerns, including depression, anxiety, trauma, bereavement, and behavioral disorders. Dr. Sierra has extensive experience as well working with divorce issues, step-families, adoption, and foster children. In her work with adults, Dr. Sierra specializes in post partum issues, depression, and anxiety disorders. Dr. Sierra is also devoted to serving a multicultural clientele. She is bilingual in Spanish and has served the Hispanic community in civilian and military settings. Dr. Sierra maintains a private practice in Tacoma, WA and offers workshops locally, nationally and internationally.
Since completing her doctoral studies, Dr. Sierra has worked as a clinical and pediatric psychologist in a variety of educational, medical, military, and outpatient settings, serving children and their families helping them to address a wide spectrum of behavioral, developmental, and psychiatric issues. She has considerable experience working with young adults, individuals with chronic illness, trauma (e.g., accidents, impact of deployment, abuse), and grief and loss concerns.
In 1998 Dr. Sierra moved to Tacoma to serve as Program Director at Child Study & Treatment Center (CSTC), the state psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. She was also served as a University of Washington-Seattle clinical faculty member, supervising UW post-doctoral residents and providing medical education. Recognizing that children and parents learn in many different ways, Dr. Sierra introduced therapeutic programs that were inclusive, individualized, and comprehensive in promoting positive coping skills and resilience among the children at CSTC and their families. Dr. Sierra's program was recognized for its outstanding quality of care and innovative programming.
In addition to being known throughout the state for her excellent clinical programming, Dr. Sierra has presented at national, state, and local conferences and seminars on issues concerning parent-child attachment, traumatic grief and loss, children and war, and providing culturally responsive behavioral health care. She has also addressed general audiences on topics such as, parenting, behavioral strategies with children, and stress management. Dr. Sierra is committed to community service by providing mental health consultation to charitable and nonprofit organizations. As a member of the Pro Bono Committee of the Washington State Psychological Association, she also provides low or no cost mental health services to individuals. Dr. Sierra has been recognized for her leadership at the state and national levels in the area of child and family advocacy. She has served on numerous committees dedicated to the best interests of children.
Dr. Ana Maria Sierra is an interactive, solution-focused therapist. Her therapeutic approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer an individualized approach to each client. With compassion and understanding, she works with each individual or family to help them build on their strengths and attain the desired outcomes and growth.
Professional Education, Research, Certification, and Licensure
Dr. Sierra has been continuously licensed as a psychologist since 1990 and since 1998 in the State of Washington (License no. PY0002251). Commitment to continuing education is a high priority and she regularly attends workshops to advance her skills. Dr. Ana has completed advanced training in working with women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She is also certified as a collaborative practitioner and works closely with other practitioners in advancing her skills to assist separated and divorced couples, including parents, in achieving mutually satisfying agreements.
Dr. Sierra received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. While pursuing her doctoral degree, she worked as a school psychologist, mental health therapist, and researcher. Dr. Sierra's research focused on adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, community integration of children and adults with severe and profound disabilities, and the first study of infant-mother attachment with infants with neurological disabilities. Dr. Sierra's mentors included leaders in the field of attachment theory and research, such as the late Dr. Mary D. Ainsworth and her protege, Dr. Robert S. Marvin. Dr. Sierra interned at Yale University Child Study Center, where she was a Bush Fellow.
Dr. Sierra received her Masters of Science degree in School and Clinical Child Psychology from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, a nationally approved program that included a School Psychology internship. In addition, Dr. Sierra has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Spanish language and literature, from Saint Louis University and Middlebury College, respectively.
For more than 20 years Dr. Sierra has been integrating yoga and mindfulness practices into her treatment programs, including at Child Study and Treatment Center where she developed therapeutic yoga groups for children and adolescents and provided therapeutic yoga medical education for the psychiatry/psychology residents and professional staff. After many years of study and practice, Dr. Sierra pursued training with Amy Weintraub, RYT-500 (founder of the LifeForce Yoga Institute) in LifeForce Yoga for mood and anxiety regulation. She completed completed her inital (January 2012) and advanced (May 2014) level trainings and is a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner II. In January 2013 Dr. Sierra qualifed to become a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200 hour level at Three Trees Yoga In-Depth Yoga Teacher Training in Federal Way, WA. And, in March 2014 she completed an intensive iRest Yoga Nidra Level I training with Dr. Richard Miller (founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute) and was accepted in the iRest Yoga Nidra Teacher Training Program and will continue her in depth yoga nidra studies. Finally, Dr. Sierra is also a student of Salvatore Zambito, yogic scholar and founder of the Yoga Sutras Institute. For more information about these practices, please go to the Complimentary and Alternative Practices page.
Over the years, Dr. Sierra has been an active member of the professional community, both locally and nationally. She has served as a clinical faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington-Seattle, been on a numerous committees, boards, has led many workshops, and has been recognized nationally for her professional leadership. Currently, she is a member of the following professional organizations:
- American Psychological Association, Full Member
- Postpartum Support International, Full Member, Certified Perinatal Mental Health Practitioner
- International Association of Collaborative Practice, Full Member, Certified Collaborative Practitioner
- International Association of Yoga Therapists, Full Member
- Yoga Alliance, Registered Yoga Teacher
- Washington State Psychological Association, Full Member, President Chapter 5 Council
- Collaborative Law Practitioners of Pierce County, Full member, Training Commmittee
- Pierce County Counselor's Association
- South Sound Healers Network
Community Involvement and Interests
Dr. Sierra has been an active member and volunteer of her community. She has served as a board member of schools, churches, storytelling festivals, and other organizations as well as spearheaded the establishment of a child abuse advocacy center and an international sister city relationship to promote peace and understanding. Currently, she is serving on the Steering Committee of WILLO--Women's Intergenerational Living Legacy Organization-- a community-based organization celebrating the stories of women and girls locallly and internationally. She also volunteers with Catherine Place, an organization improving the lives of women, and the Toy Rescue Mission, a grass roots organization seeking to provide toys and other gifts to children and teens experiencing hardship.
Dr. Ana's personal interests have ranged from crewing for hot air balloon pilots in several states, singing in a choir, volunteering on a local farm, and natural building to hiking, being a guest chef, attending theatre and concerts, yoga, and Cuban dancing. Dr. Ana also enjoys travel, visiting local beaches, and taking long walks with her dog, Arwen.