Dr. Yaro Garcia is clinical and accreditation coordinator in the Department of Counseling at Florida Gulf Coast University. She has been recognized for her work with victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes. Dr. Garcia collaborates with law enforcement to successfully investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking. She has testified on the topic before the U.S. Helsinki Commission and a U.S. Senate Symposium on Sex Trafficking.
Areas of Expertise (9)
Disclosure in Trauma
Purple Heart Advocacy Award (professional)
Awarded in 2012 by the Florida Network of Victim Services for her work with human trafficking victims and advocating for victims of abuse.
Community Advocate of the Year (professional)
Awarded in 2016 by the Florida Statewide Guardian Ad Litem Office for advocacy in the 20th Judicial Circuit on behalf of Florida's abused and neglected children.
Grand Canyon University: Ph.D., General Psychology 2019
Capella University: M.S., Clinical Psychology 2009
Florida Gulf Coast University: B.A., Liberal Arts-Psychology 2004
Selected Media Appearances (17)
FGCU's counseling department gears up to provide virtual, one-on-one support meetings
Dr. Garcia discusses a new program that offers free virtual counseling to K-12 students in Southwest Florida.
SWFL businesses react to Instagram testing program to hide 'likes'
Fox 4 tv
Dr. Garcia talks about the impact on users when Instagram starts hiding "likes" from followers.
Chickens, alligators and mini horses registered as emotional support animals
Dr. Garcia talks about the increasing number of animals that are classified as emotional support animals.
Abre sus puertas centro para la salud mental
Nuevos Ecos print
Dr. Garcia gives an interview in Spanish about Florida Gulf Coast University's new Community Counseling Center.
Decorating for the holidays early can be good for your mental health
Dr. Garcia talks about the euphoria people can feel by decorating early for the holidays.
FGCU professor talks forgiveness after brother of Botham Jean embraces his killer
Fox 4 tv
Dr. Garcia talks about a hug heard around the world.
Sex trafficking prevention lessons to be added to Florida schools' curriculum
Dr. Garcia discusses Southwest Florida's proximity to areas known for high levels of human trafficking.
Padre arrestado por abuso infantil
Telemundo 51 tv
Dr. Garcia talks about child abuse.
Entrevista con la Psicóloga Yaroslaba Garcia
Dr. Garcia talks about acute stress disorder and the need for families to heal after the Parkland shooting.
Juvenile justice system a 'revolving door,' says authorities
Dr. Garcia argues against greater punishment for juveniles.
Apps offer online therapy
Dr. Garcia talks about the impact of technology on treatment.
Suicide rates rise for teen girls
Dr. Garcia talks about the connection between social media and suicide.
Glue flying off shelves for ... slime?
Dr. Garcia discusses the need for children to have creative outlets.
Teens go to extremes for social media 'perfection'
Dr. Garcia talks about the impact social media has on young adults.
Home Grown Girls: Sex Trafficking in Florida
Dr. Garcia is a guest on "Gulf Coast Live."
Coalition fights human trafficking in SW Fla.
The News-Press print
A Q&A with Dr. Garcia from 2014.
Florida Weekly print
Dr. Garcia writes about the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Coalition.
Selected Event Appearances (3)
Successful collaboration techniques to treat, investigate, and prosecute human trafficking cases
It Takes a Village State College, Pennsylvania
Inside Out: Making the Reproductive Harm of Trafficking Visible
Senate Symposium on Sex Trafficking Washington, DC
Best Practices for Rescuing Trafficking Victims
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Helsinki Commission Washington, D.C.
Research Focus (1)
Disclosure process of human trafficking survivors
Dr. Garcia looks at the process by which a human trafficking victim tells their story after emotionally bonding with their captor. Dr. Garcia's research looks at the guilt felt by victims when they speak, particularly negatively, about the perpetrator.
Therapy Treatment Team
Dr. Garcia created this private practice to work with victims or trauma.
Selected Articles (2)
The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore how human service professionals in the United States understand and describe the disclosure difficulties and the types of disclosures used by sex trafficking victims that have seemingly formed an emotional bond with their trafficker. The objective of this study was to explore the understandings and the descriptions of human services professionals regarding the purpose of this study. The theoretical foundation used for this study is the trauma-bonding theory because it shows that, once a bond has been formed, the victim experiences a shift in emotional and overall internal functioning. The research design for this study was a qualitative descriptive approach. Thematic analysis was used within and across both data sources. Key findings revealed 39 different emotions named by the participants to describe the disclosure difficulties experienced by emotionally bonded sex trafficking survivors. All the emotions described had a negative connotation and referred to different feelings. None of the participants described a positive emotion related to the process of disclosure for survivors who had emotionally bonded. Additionally, most of the participants reported that sex trafficking survivors who have emotionally bonded have barriers to disclosing what was done to them because they either want to protect the trafficker, the emotional bond they have with the trafficker, or because they worry about being responsible for legal ramifications against the trafficker. Additionally, categories of disclosures were found: (a) avoidant, (b) confused, (c) disorganized, (d) incremental, and (e) manipulative.
Thomas B. Hofmann, PhD and Yaroslaba Garcia, MA
Human trafficking (HT) literature identifies restricted or narrowly focused funding and difficulty with the coordination of services for HT survivors. This focus group study attempts to discern service strengths and issues at the local level in Lee and Collier counties in Southwest Florida. A three step grounded theory process was utilized in order to analyze the focus group data. The unprecedented level of survivor need was theorized to strain the existing services network. HT cases expose less organized parts of the service network which highlights a lack of organized funding sources and less efficiency. The addition of an essential fourth P (partnership), to prevention, protection and prosecution efforts, would guide efforts toward more evolved service networks. Suggestions include creation of a state level entity which can manage a regionally coordinated case management system, and the establishment of a clearinghouse for data and research.