Carlos Canales, Psy.D., FAGPA

Office Location

2700 Westown Parkway, Suite 425,
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

Phone:+ (515) 528 -7754
Fax:+ (515) 528 -7771

Carlos Canales, Psy.D., FAGPA

I believe therapy is a way to enrich life in general, to enhance the enjoyable, and to understand and move through the painful. From childhood to adulthood, we are meant to take risks in life, to explore, taste, experience, and selectively hold onto events that give meaning to our personal narratives. Sometimes life also introduces ruptures, losses, and traumas and these experiences need to be attended and cared for. I think life is always better in supportive company and that is why I am a therapist.

I strive to listen beyond the content of your sharing, not just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. For deep understanding and change, I believe it is important to pay attention to emotion, non-verbal communication, somatic expressions, and non-conscious processes and dynamics that live in each one of us. I am fascinated with the multilayer complexity of life; in integrating the mind, body, heart, and spirit, as well as the richness of community, relationships, and culture. I enjoy building connections with clients and jointly exploring what brought them in, how their history informs their present situation, how they learned to get stuck or in patterns that are repetitive, and how needs are communicated or held back. In essence, I’m careful about how many aspects of life are being lived, assimilated, digested, and observed. I value the encounter created in the present moment when two people are invested in making positive and intentional changes.

In addition to being trained as a generalist, I have developed a few emphasis areas. For instance, I am a certified group psychotherapists (CGP) and a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP™). I am also skilled in the treatment of depression, trauma, anxiety, and difficulties in relating to others. Sometimes, relationship issues can be characterological or part of an established personality structure. I value looking at the past and understanding early experiences compassionately. We often do not get enough early on but expect too much as we grow older. I am also interested in incorporating spirituality and matters that speak of purpose and meaning, exploring past materialism, routines, and the ordinary demands of everyday life.

Being Latin American, I am attuned to immigration and acculturation issues. I am fluent in Spanish and I am bicultural. I make an effort to speak from the core, valuing authenticity, sincerity, and spontaneity. In addition to working with individuals, I enjoy working in group therapy and also seeing families and couples.


Dr. Carlos Canales, Psy.D., CGP, FAGPA, SEP™, is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Group Psychotherapist, and Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner in private practice since 2011. He received his graduate degree from Rosemead School of Psychology in 2007. He is fluent in Psychodynamic Therapy, Gestalt therapy, Family Systems, Somatic Experiencing, and Emotionally Focused Therapy. He has worked at multiple counseling centers such as the Biola Counseling Center, Fuller Psychological and Family Services, and the University of California–Davis Counseling and Psychological Center (UC-Davis, CAPS) for seven years. He has also worked in inpatient and outpatient hospitals and community mental health centers. He is bilingual and bicultural, and has developed an emphasis in the treatment of Latino/Latina clients and working with affect. He provided many psycho-educational workshops and seminars to university communities and various professional agencies, local hospitals, and professional conferences.

Dr. Canales has been facilitating a variety of psychotherapy groups for almost two decades, including a training group for psychotherapists. He served in the board for the Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society (NCGPS), Hispanic Educational Resources (HER), and currently serves in the Iowa Psychological Foundation (IPF) board. He is also a clinical member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), organization that gave him the honor of fellowship (FAGPA), nomination for outstanding professional competence and leadership capacities. Dr. Canales is part of the distant learning committee of AGPA.

At Vida Psychotherapy, Dr. Canales treats individuals, couples, and families in addition to providing psychological testing and immigration reports. He also facilitates four psychotherapy, growth-oriented groups. He and his wife, Jen Canales, Ph.D., facilitate a couple workshop called Hold Me Tight periodically.

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