Hometown: Pottstown, PA
Educational Background: Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish, Ursinus College
Career Background: I have been in the therapeutic staff support field since 2008, working with children with behavior problems and children with autism and spectrum disorders. I was full time until this past August, when I had to go part time to make room for my internship requirement.
Honors and Awards: The Samuel M. Cameron Graduate Award for Excellence in Counseling for demonstrating academic and professional excellence in the field of counseling, especially in the areas of evidence-based and multicultural practices.
Specialization/Concentration: Child and Family
Why Arcadia? I knew I wanted to commute somewhere that was feasible for me and I really wanted to continue working throughout that time. When I looked at the programs at Arcadia, I loved the fact that the University offered a child and family therapy track, something I hadn’t seen at all during my school search. Once I got to hear more about the specifics of the program from Dr. Eleonora Bartoli, I was sold. Actually, as soon as I sat down on the couch and she offered me chocolate and came across so warm and friendly, I knew this was the right fit for me.
What have been some of your key experiences during your time at Arcadia? For me it was the process of a lot of self-examination. Multicultural emphasis is a primary philosophy of the program, which excited me from the beginning. I identify as Latina, was born in Puerto Rico, and grew up going to pretty diverse public schools. However, undergrad was kind of a culture shock for me, and it really had me reevaluate a lot of how I perceived myself and the world. I thought Arcadia’s program would help to challenge that, which it did. I had to study different things in my past and how they influence me to be the person I am today. I discovered how I look at the world in terms of different parts of my identity affects how I understand the world and how I interact with other people; and being more mindful about others, and how the different parts of their identity affect them and how they perceive the world. I’ve learned how what’s going on with me internally can influence my work with a client, that it can be helpful but also harmful. After four years at Arcadia, I feel like I’m not just a better mental health worker, but a better person.
Research: I am working on Multicultural Counseling and Psychotherapy Test (MCPT) with Dr. Angela Gillem, Dr. Bartoli, and another student in the program, Kerra Constant. I was interested in working on research, so I spoke to several faculty members about their work. When Dr. Gillem talked to me about the research she was doing on multicultural competence, I was honored that she asked me to join her group.
The MCPT is designed to assess multicultural competence across multiple domains such as knowledge, skills, and self-awareness. Because research is a really long process, it can take years and years. The MCPT was validated in two phases, and I am involved in the second phase of the study. We tested a subset of 50 items, which yielded a reliable and valid measure of MCC. We found that MCPT scores were correlated to MC education, but not to clinical experience or self-identification measures.
Initially I thought I’d probably just plug numbers into a spreadsheet, but here, students are analyzing data, compiling literature, writing, presenting, and helping out with every part of research, and the faculty really considers our input. I feel like even though they are these brilliant people, they are very warm and approachable. They work very collaboratively with us, which also reflects the collaborative approach to therapy that we are taught.
Career Goal: I would like to have a full-time position where I am providing counseling to clients. I’m also interested in research, because it has so much to do with how we practice. It’s a very important piece in this field, especially looking at multicultural theory and approaches and competence. So I would love to continue working in that area as well.