In a softly lit room, she walked from person to person speaking quietly. “How was your week? Any thoughts about what you felt after last week’s session? Is there any specific thing you are dealing with now?” Then she gently inserted thin medical grade needles into five points in each person’s ears that correspond to the Chinese defined points activating the parasympathetic nervous system and the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Quiet meditative music played as she moved on to the next participant.
This is my memory of an Acudetox session I attended led by Katia Torrelli-Delgado at Taos Behavioral Health. Just one of the many therapeutic techniques Katia was skilled in, she offered the Acudetox Drop-in Clinic for free—as a way to reach out to Taos residents and create more understanding of the power in the integration of native, oriental, and western medicine.
For more than anything else, Katia was a healer.
Katia’s death on January 23 after a warrior’s fight with cancer is a deep loss to her family, our agency and our community. She came into our lives as a treasure and left all of us changed.
A native of Peru, she came to the United State in 1969 and completed training in Counseling Psychology with extended study to complete certification in Substance Abuse Counseling, licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist and Board Certification in Acudetox. In addition, she learned Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) to help her treat clients who had experienced grief and trauma.
And the learning never stopped. An avid thirst for more knowledge to assist clients kept her in touch with the latest research in strength-based practices combining psychology and neuroscience. Her practice was built around the recent understanding that the brain can indeed change, erase old emotional reactions and build new ones.
Beyond the professional training Katia completed, her deep commitment to clients, respect for their journey, and a well of spiritual strength impacted clients and fellow clinicians alike. When you were with her—you knew you were in the presence of a deep wide spirit. “Katia had such a strong presence, a quiet strength, and was able to surround those she touched with her light and her love,” stated Ashley Branch, a clinician at the Family Center and supervised by Katia.
Contribution to Agencies
In her twenty-seven years of clinical practice, Katia has served a number of agencies in Taos. First employed at Taos Behavioral Health (at the time—Nonviolence Works) from 2013-2016 as a clinician and later as clinical director, Katia set the agency on a firm foundation with her clinical skills, and strong advocacy for staff.
After several years in other Taos agencies, Katia returned to TBH in 2018 as the Director of the new Family Center. Serving both youth and families, Katia always worked from a systems perspective-integrating cultural knowledge and therapeutic techniques. “Katia helped me to value the traditions of our country,” commented Bruno Nora, a fellow native of Peru who worked under her in the Family Center, “and to value others’ beliefs and cultures in order to improve my own counseling in this multicultural beautiful town.”
Ashley commented the Katia “sometimes gave me her straightforward opinion, and other times gently led me to my own conclusions. She allowed me space to grow, to listen to my inner voice, and trust my own instincts. What more could I ask for in a mentor?”
Katia and Bruno celebrated Peruvian traditions with other Peruvians in town and Katia was an active member of indigenous healing organizations. She impacted many residents in formal and informal relationships. “I have felt her presence and grace in moments when I am searching for clarity” states Ashley and Bruno commented “She is always going to be around us reminding and spreading her commitment, perseverance, compassion, empathy and love around the community.”
Taos Behavioral Health has the largest credentialed and licensed behavioral health staff in northern New Mexico. We can be reached at www.taosbehavioralhealth.org. 575-758-4297 or at 105 Bertha for scheduled appointments.
Mary McPhail Gray is the Co-Chair of the TBH Board and can be reached at 575-779-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org