Attending the University of Redlands for my master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC), was the catalyst to my career working with diverse communities experiencing mental health issues.
I am currently pursuing a Psy.D. after my program at the University of Redlands encouraged me to pursue further clinical training to continue working towards developing culturally competent interventions and treatment with communities who may otherwise not be able to receive proper treatment due to linguistic or other social barriers.
My time in the CMHC program, especially my clinical experience through the Riverside Free Clinic and my courses in cross-cultural counseling and systemic counseling were the most significant towards my current experience in my Psy.D. program. My doctoral dissertation will be focused on developing a culturally competent intervention for Latino emerging adults experiencing symptoms of depression aimed at targeting symptom reduction and improvement in communication about their symptoms. The work I engaged in with the multicultural community at the Riverside Free Clinic and in my courses, were essential in developing my current skills for working with a diverse population of adolescents and emerging adults at my current hospital and school-based mental health practicum sites in my doctoral program. These experiences at the University of Redlands allowed me to not only develop my multicultural theoretical skills, but also my clinical skills as I engaged in culturally adapted versions of cognitive behavioral therapy and person-centered interventions with patients based on their own cultures of origin and by meeting patients where they were at in terms of treatment. These skills have been an integral part of my development in my Psy.D. program as having the foundation built in from my time in the CMHC program has allowed me to build upon these skills at a higher level. As I continue into the third year of my program next fall and applying to internships across the country, I hope to continue integrating the skills I initially learned at the University of Redlands of providing culturally competent interventions which empower patients to continue improving upon their mental health. I also hope to use these skills to continue serving as an advocate for reducing mental health disparities in minoritized communities and improving the overall mental health systems which exist especially for adolescents and emerging adults.
As I reflect on my time at the University of Redlands in the CMHC program, I look back at it with very fond memories of building professional and personal relationships as I continue to consult with former professors and cohort members.
Every moment spent in the classroom and at the Riverside Free Clinic was an integral component of my current career path and I draw upon some of those moments to help me with current patients or courses. Current students in the CHMC program should identify which classes they connected with the most to forge a path for themselves in this field, as it can be very broad. Once you have identified your niche, it becomes much easier to identify what type of work you want to engage in post-graduation.
We hold a great responsibility as clinicians to engage in mental health advocacy as we are looked upon by others in our larger system to navigate what to do in certain situations such as increasing access to mental health care and reducing the stigma around mental health. I encourage every student in the CMHC program to identify what areas of mental health are the most important to them and to become involved in further work within this area whether it be research, advocacy, or teaching to continue expanding upon their own professional goals and enhancing our field.