hero image
Yaro Garcia, Ph.D., LMHC - Florida Gulf Coast University. Fort Myers, FL, US

Yaro Garcia, Ph.D., LMHC Yaro Garcia, Ph.D., LMHC

Expert in human trafficking and violent crimes | Florida Gulf Coast University


Dr. Yaro Garcia is a counselor, advocate and educator specializing in complex trauma and disclosure in trauma survivors.






Social Media


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)

Human Trafficking

Violent Crimes

Disclosure in Trauma

Counseling Education

Sexual Assault

Domestic Violence

Child Abuse



Accomplishments (2)

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.

Education (3)

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 (20)

Lee County mother could lose children after recording baby gasping in bathtub

NBC2  tv


Dr. Garcia discusses when child abuse needs to be reported to authorities.

view more

What racial ‘microaggressions’ are, and why they’re a problem

NBC2  tv


Dr. Garcia explains what microaggressions are and why they are a problem.

view more

FGCU's counseling department gears up to provide virtual, one-on-one support meetings

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia discusses a new program that offers free virtual counseling to K-12 students in Southwest Florida.

view more

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.

view more

FGCU expert weighs in on child written on with marker by a school teacher

Fox 4  tv


Dr. Garcia discusses long term impacts of abuse on a child.

view more

Chickens, alligators and mini horses registered as emotional support animals

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia talks about the increasing number of animals that are classified as emotional support animals.

view more

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.

view more

Decorating for the holidays early can be good for your mental health

NBC2  tv


Dr. Garcia talks about the euphoria people can feel by decorating early for the holidays.

view more

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.

view more

Sex trafficking prevention lessons to be added to Florida schools' curriculum

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia discusses Southwest Florida's proximity to areas known for high levels of human trafficking.

view more

Padre arrestado por abuso infantil

Telemundo 51  tv


Dr. Garcia talks about child abuse.

view more

Entrevista con la Psicóloga Yaroslaba Garcia

D'Latinos  online


Dr. Garcia talks about acute stress disorder and the need for families to heal after the Parkland shooting.

view more

Juvenile justice system a 'revolving door,' says authorities

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia argues against greater punishment for juveniles.

view more

Apps offer online therapy

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia talks about the impact of technology on treatment.

view more

Suicide rates rise for teen girls

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia talks about the connection between social media and suicide.

view more

Glue flying off shelves for ... slime?

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia discusses the need for children to have creative outlets.

view more

Teens go to extremes for social media 'perfection'

ABC7  tv


Dr. Garcia talks about the impact social media has on young adults.

view more

Home Grown Girls: Sex Trafficking in Florida

WGCU  radio


Dr. Garcia is a guest on "Gulf Coast Live."

view more

Coalition fights human trafficking in SW Fla.

The News-Press  print


A Q&A with Dr. Garcia from 2014.

view more


Florida Weekly  print


Dr. Garcia writes about the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Coalition.

view more

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.

Businesses (1)

Therapy Treatment Team

Dr. Garcia created this private practice to work with victims or trauma.

view more

Selected Articles (2)

Emotional Bonding and Disclosure in Sex Trafficking Survivors: A Qualitative Descriptive Analysis


Garcia, Yaroslaba


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.

view more

Partnership, The Fourth P, Enhances HT Service Efforts in Prevention, Protection and Prosecution Arenas

Slavery Today Journal

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.

view more