Location: Miami, FL

Job Title: Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Creighton Fertility Care Practitioner

Organization: Melissa Grace Therapy & Coaching & Fertility Care

Education: University of Tampa & Nova Southeastern University

Degree: BA Psychology; MS Marriage & Family Therapy

Melissa Tablada, GIVEN ’16

Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!

My husband AJ and I have been married since 2018 and we have two children. We experienced a season of infertility early in our marriage and were able to find healing through Jesus and NaProTechnology. I love traveling, scuba diving, hiking, camping and most outdoor activities. I am a hobby collector and easily become passionate about new things – I love learning. I love reading, writing and listening to podcasts. After not eating meat for 7 years, red meat and cheese are now my all time favorite foods in life.

Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?

I have my own businesses that I run from home. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Fertility Care Practitioner and Life & Relationship Coach. I see clients virtually when my husband or mother are home caring for the kids. I am passionate about integrated and holistic wellness. This means caring for our whole selves – spiritually, physically, mentally…our emotional health, relational health, it’s all connected. I love the way my work is all interconnected. Supporting women in their mental health, couples in their relational health, everyone in their reproductive health.

What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?

Some of my strengths God has given me are writing, ambition, mindset and confidence in the Lord. I use my strengths as a writer to write both on social media, for journals, blogs and other published works – these writings are typically on faith, family life and integrated wellness. My ambition as a strength aids me in taking action on many of my big dreams and ideas. That passionate action, paired with a healthy & positive mindset, and confidence in the Lord’s will has been an asset to my work – setting goals, working hard for them and being flexible along the way.

What women inspire you, and why?

I am inspired by Our Blessed Mother, her role as a wife and mother inspire me in my vocation daily. I am inspired by my mother in law, for the way she graciously, generously and selflessly serves her family. I am inspired by a friend who has suffered greatly, for the way she suffers with faith, hope, peace and joy.

Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?

In this season of life there are two groups in particular that are a great support for me. I have a group of 3 girlfriends who speak on the truth, beauty & goodness of our faith, marriage & family life through social media. While we each have different businesses, we share our faith and love for entrepreneurship. We meet monthly for a video conference to teach one another different areas of business that we are learning & support one another in every area of life. I am also part of a group of Catholic therapists – this is such a gift for networking, resources, case consultations, etc. I learn so much from both of these groups!

Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?

My favorite prayer is the rosary. I feel incredible peace and spiritual strength through these prayers. I also love the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner” as a simple yet powerful prayer to call on at any time. I have special devotions to many saints, especially St. Joseph, St. Gianna Molla, Blessed Chiara Petrillo, Blessed Pier Giorgio, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Sts. Joachim & Anne, Our Lady of La Leche, and St. Therese.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

“As to the past, let us entrust it to God’s mercy, the future to divine providence. Our task is to live holy the present moment.” – St. Gianna Molla

What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum?

Being surrounded by hundreds of young adult Catholic women who were on fire for the Lord & living their lives fully alive, was life changing. Being surrounded by many incredible religious sisters and getting the chance to know many of them over a meal, was life changing. Learning from women who are doing transformational work in the world, through their professions and their families, was life changing.

What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.

My GIVEN action plan intended to bridge the gap between the Archdiocese of Miami and Catholic therapists, and other faith based mental health professionals in our area. My vision was to create a marriage support program, through date nights, workshops, retreats, etc. so that there was active faith based support for couples after marriage preparation was complete and before they experienced a crisis, coming to therapy out of desperation. My mission was to give couples the tools and skills needed to maintain their marriages with love and respect proactively over the lifetime. The focus was on couples who have gotten married in the church in recent years, to build up a strong culture of marriage in our community.

Could you tell us a bit about what motivated or led you to develop this action plan? Was this something that you had on your heart prior to this past year or was it something you developed through the GIVEN program?

When I attended GIVEN in 2016 I was halfway through my masters program, studying to become a therapist. It was on my heart to support Catholic couples and GIVEN gave me an avenue to develop my dreams in a structured and supported way. I learned that couples wait an average of 6 years from the time they notice a problem to the time they seek professional support. I wanted to create a program to support couples before they got to that six year mark so they could pro-actively care for their marriages. I have had a very similar mission for these past 8 years and seeing God shape my work over time has been a gift.

How did you grow throughout the year as you worked with a mentor on your action plan? Were there any moments where you had doubts or felt like you had taken on too much of a challenge? If so, how did you overcome them?

It was a beautiful season of surrender & spiritual poverty. Things changed often as I discerned along with the Archdiocese and my mentor. We worked through obstacles, and God gave me the grace to allow Him to take over when I wasn’t sure what He wanted of me. Instead of trying to take control myself, I let Him lead and He created something truly beautiful. By working with my mentor and the Archdiocese of Miami I had the support needed to develop the workshop that my Action Plan turned into.

What were some of the fruits you saw from your action plan? What did you find most fulfilling in this process?

The event we hosted in the end was a date night for married couples. About 50 married couples were in attendance, we served dinner while I gave a talk on implementing Christian love & respect in marriage, and they each went home with a book as well. One of the most fulfilling and long term fruits of this project was the relationship I developed with the Archdiocese of Miami office of marriage and family life. They have wonderful hearts for families in our community and I am grateful to support them in their mission.

Melissa recently released “The Manual for Healthy and Holy Friendships.” A digital manual that breaks down why, where & how to form healthy & holy friendships. From that very first greeting, to the time spent & conversations had in between, to the hardest moments and ending of friendship, the manual equips you with education, resources, reflections, prayers, and even the language to use along the way.

Visit her website to learn more and download this manual!