AAMFT California Newsletter, Summer 2016


A Letter from the Editor
Missing Norma: A Tribute
Advocacy Update
2016 AAMFT-CA Division Conference
Moving Forward Together!
Clinical Corner


Melanie Carlton, LMFT
E-News Editor, AAMFT-CA Division






After a bit of a hiatus, the E-News Committee is thrilled to announce we are bringing back the seasonal AAMFT-CA newsletter – and we’re changing things up a bit!

The goal of our newsletter is to create a platform to serve as a way to evolve our professional community; for readers to gain knowledge, connect with other members, and to voice their passions. To do this we need YOU! More specifically, we need your insights, inquiries, experience, and awareness. Let us utilize this newsletter as way to make new acquaintances across the state and encourage our fellow clinicians to reach out, to continue the conversation and to thrive in our curiosity. Let us motivate each other by speaking about the path we’re on in this professional world. Let us support and encourage one another though we are 400 miles apart. As Editor it is my hope that this newsletter will be a platform for such an experience and I invite you to connect, reach out and be heard!

If contributing to a newsletter isn’t your thing then have no fear! You will continue to see pertinent articles regarding advocacy, legislation and other vital information designed for our profession as well as significant articles that are aimed to be interactive and thought-provoking. You will have the opportunity to read up on AAMFT events throughout the state, browse photos, and get connected with future events in your area. And – as we are in the business of personal and professional growth – your thoughts, opinions and suggestions are always encouraged and welcomed.

Before you get to the good stuff I would like to sincerely thank all those involved in getting this newsletter up and running again! Thank you to the authors for your contributions and thank you to our members – you are oh so appreciated.

Happy reading!

Melanie Carlton, M.A., is a licensed marriage and family therapist and serves as a mental health clinician for Family Service Counseling Community Resource Center in San Leandro, CA in the field of school-based and community education and support as well as mental health evaluator for recipients of General Assistance through Alameda County. Melanie can be reached at therapywithmelanie@gmail.com for all inquiries including contributing articles for the E-newsletter. 

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marilyn-davisOlivia Loewy, PhD
AAMFT-CA Executive Director

AAMFT-California Division leaders were stunned last January to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of our Board President, Dr. Norma Scarborough. Days before, we had been in active communication with her, planning our Annual Board Retreat, scheduled for the end of the month.

Dr. Scarborough was first elected to the California Division Board of Directors in 2003 — and she never left. During her 13 years on the Board, Norma served in a multitude of leadership roles: Director at Large; Treasurer; President Elect; President; Immediate Past President. In 2016, she was beginning her first year of a second term as Board President.

Norma was an incomparable leader guiding the Board’s working process with her depth of knowledge, wisdom and fierce love of our profession. She inspired us with her resolve to take the “high road” and her unfaltering belief that it can always get better. She reached out to all of our professional community as a role model – dedicated to advancing, protecting and supporting the profession so as to enable us to affect the lives of others.

Thrown off emotionally, logistically and structurally, the Division Board decided to hold our Annual Retreat as scheduled, spending the first hours in a collaborative grieving process. We lit a candle and kept it burning throughout the weekend as a way of bringing Norma’s spirit and guiding light into the room with us. In February, the California Division Annual Conference was dedicated to Norma. Alliant International University, where she served as professor and site director, held a special gathering in Norma’s honor. The Greater Los Angeles MFT Educators Consortium meeting in March was dedicated to her memory.

Even in the company of others who loved her, the personal loss is painful and private. Months later, Norma’s absence remains an unfillable void in our Division’s leadership. Norma changed lives. She was always there, for the Division, for our members, and for the Board. As a friend and colleague, Norma had incredible depth and she was beautifully complex. She was strong and vulnerable, angry and forgiving, focused and flexible.  She was sure of herself and prone to reconsidering. With her gentle strength and her respect for people and process, Norma guided the ongoing evolution of what became a remarkable, cohesive working Board. She was solidly loving, loyal and passionate about the work of MFT.

Irreplaceable, unforgettable and treasured; Dr. Scarborough will continue to be greatly missed. The most profound honor to her legacy would be to serve others well and carry forward her work for the profession with the integrity, dedication and commitment that she so brilliantly exemplified.

Click on the images below to enlarge the photos.

Olivia Loewy, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the California Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT-CA). Olivia also represents the interests of MFTs at a state level through her active involvement with the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies (CCCBHA), the California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions (CIBHS) Policy Forum Planning Committee, and the California Coalition for Whole Health. Olivia is a licensed MFT and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. Prior to her current position, she served for 10 years as the Clinical Director at Verdugo Mental Health in Glendale, CA.

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AAMFT-CA Involved in Busy Legislative Season

marieBenjamin E. Caldwell, PsyD

It’s the busy time of year in Sacramento, as legislators work to get their bills through key policy committees and pushed ahead to floor votes. Here are some of the bills we have taken positions on so far this year.



AB 847: Requires DHCS to apply for federal grant for community MH care for Medi-Cal clients. 

This bill would require the Department of Health Care Services to develop a grant proposal seeking federal funding for treatment of Medi-Cal clients in community mental health care clinics. Since California was one of 23 states who received the $1 million in federal funds to plan, the state has an excellent chance of becoming one of the 8 states granted the funds to do a pilot project if we submit the proposal. Our position: Support.

AB 1715: Behavior analyst licensing.

This bill would create a new category of licensure for behavior analysts, governed by the Board of Psychology. We have a philosophical concern with licensing a specific treatment rather than a profession, but if the bill is to move forward, we have requested that MFT interns and trainees be covered within the bill’s carve-outs. Licensed MFTs are already excluded from needing ABA licensure to perform ABA services in current bill language. Our position: Oppose unless amended

AB 1808: Trainees treating minors.

This bill would correct an oversight in state law, by clarifying that MFT and PCC trainees are allowed to treat minors who independently consent for mental health care. Currently, because trainees are not specifically mentioned, it is unclear whether trainees can legally provide such services. Our position: Support.

AB 1863: MFTs in FQHCs.

This bill would allow for the utilization of MFTs in Federally Qualified Health Centers, an action that has been pursued for several years now to leverage federal funding for MFTs to provide treatment in primarily rural areas. Our position: Support.

AB 1917: Out of state applicants.

This bill would change MFT licensing requirements for out-of-state applicants, defining “out of state” based on the location of the degree program rather than the residency of the student. This will ease problems that are arising for California residents who attend online programs, who are currently held to in-state requirements. Our position: Support

AB 2017: College mental health services.

This bill would use up to $5 million of MHSA funds to create a grant program for college mental health funding. Our position: Support

AB 2191: BBS sunset.

This bill would extend the sunset of the BBS to 2021. Under existing law, the BBS would cease to exist at the end of 2017. (Every licensing board has regular sunset provisions to ensure regular legislative review of board functioning.) While we know the transition process to the new exams has not been smooth, we believe this to be a problem of the BBS being under-resourced, not a problem of the BBS failing to serve a valuable role in consumer protection. Our position: Support.

AB 2507: Updates to telehealth standards.

This bill would ensure that insurance providers reimburse services provided by telehealth at rates comparable to those for services provided in person. The bill also expressly prohibits health care providers from forcing patients into telehealth services when the patient has a preference for in-person treatment. We believe this forges an effective balance between ensuring access to health care via telehealth and protecting patients who want to be seen in person. Our position: Support.

AB 2606: Law enforcement to forward certain accusations to licensing boards.

This bill requires law enforcement to immediately notify a licensing board if law enforcement receives an accusation that a licensee has been accused of certain crimes. We have a due process concern here. It’s fine for the BBS to receive arrest reports (as it currently does), but this would require law enforcement to forward what are essentially accusation reports, even when law enforcement does not believe there is enough evidence to make an arrest. This creates risk for frivolous accusations doing a lot of damage. Our position: Oppose.

SB 1101: Drug and alcohol counselor licensure.

This bill would create a new category of licensure for drug and alcohol counselors. By not expressly defining a scope of practice, it is more of a title protection act than a practice protection act. However, there are a number of concerns with the bill, including how it handles grandparenting, the question of how and when licensees would be disciplined, and the fact that it leaves much of the administration of the license up to an outside credentialing body. Our position: Oppose unless amended.

SB 1204: HPEF loan reimbursement.

This bill would double the HPEF portion of MFTs’ license renewal fees from $10 to $20 to expand student loan reimbursement available through the program. Our position: Support.

These are only some of the bills we have taken positions on this year. You can track the progress of these and all bills in the current legislative session at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. We hope to be reporting successes on these efforts come the fall.

Benjamin E. Caldwell chairs the AAMFT-CA Division Legislative and Advocacy Committee. He can be reached at ben@bencaldwell.com

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Dimensions of Cultural Diversity in Couples and Families: Race, Gender, and Social Justice

Dana Stone, Ph.D.

We are so glad to have had so many participants to share in the 6th Annual AAMFT-CA Division Conference. The theme this year was and is especially relevant; but really has always been relevant to our field: Dimensions of Cultural Diversity in Couples and Families. This conference was dedicated to our esteemed colleague and past president of the AAMFT-CA, Dr. Norma Scarborough, who integrated dimensions of cultural diversity in every aspect of her work as a teacher, a clinician, and a supervisor.

I think as students, professionals, educators, and clinicians we all grapple with what we really mean by Culture and Diversity. The 2016 conference and the topics covered and discussed over the two days in late February broadened how we think about culture and diversity. For me, it has always been about so much more than race and ethnicity. Culture and diversity encompasses all of who we are. Our race and ethnicity, yes, but also our religion, our spirituality, our gender identity, our sexuality, our sexual identity, our roles in our families, our careers, our education, our languages, our abilities, our nationality, our age and generation, our class and socioeconomic status, our political affiliations, and so on. The concepts of culture and diversity are loaded with richness and complexity. And not one of us is any one thing at a time. We are at once an intersection of multiple identities at all times.

The keynote speakers, 21 workshops and 21 poster presentations, and the panelists over the two days touched on the amazing complexities and intersections and enlightened and challenged participants to think outside of their own experiences.

Each day of the conference an inspiring keynote speaker was featured. On Friday, Dr. Robert-Jay Green explored both the direct and indirect effects of discrimination on couple functioning and mental health outcomes for same-sex couples. His presentation was drawn from his long term clinical work and research with same-sex couples. On Saturday, Dr. Kiran Arora, during her keynote address invited conference participants to consider redefining their roles as therapists to include action that makes their work relevant to the lives of those they serve by embracing social justice in family therapy. She talked about unapologetic activism and challenged listeners to think critically about their commitment to activism and social justice as clinicians.

Topics over the course of the weekend encouraged participants to think about their role as MFTs and mental health practitioners as social justice advocates, as activists, and as individuals who can facilitate change.

The myriad topics covered included therapy with same-sex couples and queer parents; working with Latino families; understanding the impact of trauma during the immigration experiences for parents raising their first generation children in the United States; understanding the impact of sizeism and our role as clinicians working with clients facing weight-based stigma; working with women stigmatized for choosing not to have children; the challenges of practicing as bilingual therapists; diverse sexuality and sexual practices; the experiences of being mixed ethnically and racially; and exploring the impact of oppression for our clients and how therapists may perpetuate oppressive experiences in our work with clients.

The beauty of those two days for me was the implementation of the question and answer parts of the large sessions. This was not something AAMFT-CA had done before at a division conference and I think it was an important part of giving all of us voice in those public spaces. I was inspired by the thoughtfulness of the inquiries and also by the willingness of participants (many students) who challenged even those people who are seen as authority figures or experts in the field. I think the ability to challenge our assumptions, our bias, and what we think we know is critical to this field. Conferences can be the spaces where we can all grow and learn if we are willing to take risks and share with each other, to challenge each other, and to learn from each other.

As the conference drew to a close, I shared my hope that participants were all inspired and maybe even questioning themselves and the ways that they may be perpetuating some of the problems that were talked about. My hope was that participants would take the challenge, as was said so eloquently by our Saturday keynote speaker Kiran Arora, to revolutionize our MFT education and training so that material related to cultural diversity is no longer relegated as a special topic or a single course, but rather, truly integrated into our all of our learning as marriage and family therapists.

At the conference, I made this statement to the audience: In the wake of the current political climate, now is the time for us, as MFTs to stand for social justice. Now is the time that we make a decision to talk about these issues with each other and even more importantly with our clients. Not one of us can deny our awareness about what is happening in our country and across the world. Since all of us are connected to social media most days and for some of us all day.

As I asked the participants at the conference, I ask the readers of this letter, too. What will you do differently because of what you have learned and been exposed to from the news or social media over the course of the last few months? How will you become a social justice advocate in your own life and in your clinical work with clients? How will you start conversations with your fellow clinicians or your clients about the dimensions of cultural diversity that touch their lives every day? What risks will you take to make a difference for yourself and for others who suffer from injustice?

It was an awesome conference weekend. I hope those of you who could not attend this year will save-the-date on your calendar for the last weekend in February of 2017 when the AAMFT-CA Division conference will be held in Southern California.

Click on the images below to view the photos.


Dana Stone, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage and family therapist and Assistant Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy program in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at California State University, Northridge. Dana served on the Board of Directors for AAMFT-CA from 2013-2015 and was a chair/co-chair and active participant for the Conference Committee. Dana’s teaching is focused on integrating diversity and social justice into every class she teaches including Fieldwork and Practicum classes, clinical supervision, Systemic and Postmodern Theories, and Diversity in Counseling. Dana’s research is focused on the experiences of multiracial people and people of color in their families and in their development, as well as their experiences in the field of marriage and family therapy in general.


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Diedra R. Lee, MFT Trainee

The Changing Culture of Behavioral Health Treatment: Preparing the Profession for Integrated Care workshop held by AAMFT – CA Moving Forward Together 2016 was an event that started with a conversation on multiculturalism, and the impact on the industry.  As a MFT trainee and AAMFT-CA Program Planning Advisory Group member, I am interested in being prepared with resources, and having current information on multiculturalism in counseling training issues.  Attending my second AAMFT – CA was an experience of engaging in rich perspectives with curious questioning on the presenter topics, including resources with information on Each Mind Matters and REMDHCO (Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition), two California mental health initiatives.  Student stipend recipients and community agency/county employer panelists presented their perspectives about real world practice, and preparing for diversity in the work place. Throughout the event, I was feeling honored to be sitting in an audience of open-minded individuals who are sharing years of experience in a field that is changing. I was charged with a smile of gratitude and a vision on what I can contribute to the field of multicultural mental health.

Reflecting on the topics, I can only use a limited space for the newsletter, however, all presenters were above excellent, but two topics were particularity interesting to me.  Gabriela Gutierrez, a doctoral student in the MFT Loma Linda School of Behavioral Health, spoke on Language and Culture of Primary Care. She shared the changing attitude of the medical field and using a collaborative, integrative approach to Medical Family Therapy that includes sex therapy and assessing the patience/client in the exam room. This fast paced approach requires the therapist to build alliance with the patience/client immediately in a medical hospital exam room. I found this so cutting edge with integrative care to medical family therapy; it has expanded my interest to become both a relational and sex therapist.  The presentation on Multiculturalism: Broad View from Dr. Daneshpour, Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Alliant International University was right on point.  From my experiences working in an African community for the past ten years, I have witnessed the barriers, and biases from negative stigmas towards immigrants and refugees. Dr. Daneshpour’s conversation from her personal and professional experiences of training mental health providers on multicultural competency in the Somalia population of Minnesota without a doubt put a face on multiculturalism.  One particular white older female clinician in private practice for 36 years was absolutely, surprised that this is happening. My first automatic thought was, “really”!  Then the dialogue of multicultural began, when active exchange led to enhanced understanding and new connections among the attendees.  With a genuine interest from active participation, the audience wanted to know about multiculturalism influences on the world of mental health in statewide county agencies. The spontaneity of exchange of ideas created awareness on multicultural real issues, relevant information on healthcare reform, and the changing culture of behavioral health treatment with emerging issues regarding race. As a MFT student, I appreciate having workshops that focus on real issues and incorporate multiculturalism and dialogue on racial and ethnic mental health disparities.   Having a position as a member on the AAMFT – CA Program Planning Advisory Group, I believe we are moving forward together in the right direction.

Click on the images below to view the photos.


Diedra R. Lee, MFT Intern, plans to earn a MA in MFT from Alliant International University and continue to the doctoral program. In addition, her research focuses on ethnicity identity construction, PYSD Slave syndrome, clinical cultural competence training, and assessment tools for immigration and refugees. As a community member, Diedra has translated her commitment to mental health into her ambitious goals to develop cultural assessment tools to address the comprehensive issues of cultural competency for clinical practice with African Americans, immigrants and refugees. She is a member of AAMFT-CA Program Planning Advisory Group with a focus on multiculturalism influence on the world of mental health issues. 

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CLINICAL CORNER: A Glimpse into the Professional world of AAMFT-CA Clinical Members 

Graciela-OrozcoDr. Graciela Orozco

Supporting Undocumented Youth in the Schools

Approximately 65,000 undocumented immigrant students graduate from high school each year in the United States. These students are of ethnically diverse backgrounds, including Latino, Filipino, Korean, African, and Irish, among others. Living in constant fear of deportation, these students live “in the shadows,” hiding their immigration status from others. The psychosocial costs of this burden are significant; isolation, chronic stress, fear of authority figures, school-related difficulties, anxiety, depression, self-harm, and PTSD are common. Studies show that pre- and post-migration trauma, acculturative stress, anxiety related to financial insecurity and discrimination negatively impact the health and well-being of undocumented immigrant youth (Gonzales, Suarez-Orozco, & Dedios-Sanguineti, 2013). Moreover, the need to hide their legal status significantly impacts their ability to develop trusted allies, connect with peers, mentors and support services. Unfortunately, these young adults are perceived by many as violating US immigration laws, and thus “paying the price.”

Like many marginalized groups, undocumented immigrant students are powerless, typically living in poverty and facing numerous psychosocial, educational, and vocational barriers. As such, counselors and allied mental health providers, particularly those working in the schools, must respond to the unique needs of these students, who have no voice. Specifically, many experience chronic stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, hopelessness, isolation, stigma and discrimination. In addition, they lack friendships and social supports within the school and community context. School counselors need to seek out undocumented immigrant students to facilitate individual, group, school and community interventions. For example, school counselors can create a safe, confidential space to facilitate trust, rapport, hope, and ultimately the development of a meaningful caring student-counselor relationship. Counselors may need to use harm reduction techniques, teach stress-reduction and social, communication and assertiveness skills, and employ assessments and interventions for mood disorders including risk assessments and strength-based cognitive-behavioral techniques to reduce depression and anxiety and increase hope and resiliency. Those living with PTSD may need targeted trauma interventions. In addition, school counselors need to facilitate social connections through peer support groups, student organizations, and/or community events, with the goal to establish supportive and trusting relationships with all school personnel. Establishing mentorships and buddy systems may be effective strategies for forming trusting relationships. Indeed, research shows that connecting these students with caring adults — teachers, counselors, mentors – and developing meaningful relationships is critical to developing a sense of hope (Gonzales, Suarez-Orozco, & Dedios-Sanguineti, 2013).

According to the ASCA National Model, school counselors play a key role in creating an environment where all students, including undocumented immigrant students, have personal, social, academic and post-secondary planning support. For example, undocumented immigrant students who are supported in taking higher level classes and building relationships with high-achieving peers, teachers, and counselors are more likely to achieve positive educational outcomes (Gonzales, 2010). In addition, school counselors must address the unique developmental stressors associated with transitioning from adolescence to adulthood for undocumented immigrant students. Specifically, this period is often shaded by the growing realization of barriers they will soon face; for example, accessing college financial aid, applying for drivers’ license, and obtaining legal work status.

At present, the literature and practice guidelines for working with undocumented immigrant youth is limited, and thus school counselor knowledge and skills for effectively and culturally competently working with this vulnerable population is insufficient. Researchers and school counselors need to add to this limited body of knowledge by conducting needs assessments in schools, conducting exploratory and intervention-based research, and develop new, innovative school and community-based programs to improve the lives of undocumented immigrant students and create inclusive school and community climates.

References can be located on the final page of the newsletter.

Dr. Graciela L. Orozco is professor and chair in the Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University.  She is the lead author of Introduction to Multicultural Counseling for Helping Professionals (3rd Edition), published in 2014 by Routledge.  Orozco is principal investigator of a $1.2 million grant for the training of culturally competent marriage, family, and child counselors from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  She is a 2016 recipient of the H.B. McDaniel Foundation Individual Award for leadership and advocacy in the field of counseling.  A Latina of Purépecha Indian ancestry, Orozco has worked for years as a counselor educator to address the issues faced by marginalized communities.


CLINICAL CORNER: A Glimpse into the Professional world of AAMFT-CA Pre-licensed Members

Alston-StepnitzKimberly Alston-Stepnitz

Recognizing the Impact of Invisibility

Identity is a powerful thing—it has the potential to create pain when it is denied or goes unseen, but it also holds the possibility of connection, visibility, and empowerment when acknowledged and respected. This is what inspired me to study genderqueer parents, for whom natal (assigned sex at birth) and gender identity do not align and who are primary parents. Although some research had been done on lesbian and gay parents, some on gender(queer) identity, and a limited amount with transgender parents, very few studies had addressed genderqueer parents and their experiences. I am a practicing clinician who has worked in a variety of settings with many different populations, as well as a student who has focused much of my studies on how cultural identity impacts mental health and overall health and well-being. From these perspectives, and as a white queer cisgender woman and mother, which cannot be understated, I see the power cultural context carries with it

I conducted focus groups with twenty natal female genderqueer parent (NFGP) participants of varying ages, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, socioeconomic statuses and family structures. I learned that in many ways, genderqueer parents feel invisible and this invisibility has real impacts.  Not only can genderqueer parents feel this invisibility through the lack of space that has been carved out for them (in schools, families, and social realms), which has implications for their mental health; but mental health workers and larger society do not have the research, language, nor tools to include genderqueer parents into the way we conceptualize healthy families. Some of us non-genderqueer parents conveniently go by “mom” or “dad,” which easily and clearly translate to society who we are to our children. This not only makes us legible to extended family and the outside world as parents, but it also fits with what children are learning about what and who parents are. Parent names become far more complicated for genderqueer parents, who struggle to find a word that fits with their gender identity, honors their primary parenting status, and is understood by others.

Carrying around the feeling of “not being seen” has huge implications for mental health. Whether or not we work with genderqueer parents, we see this everyday—clients not feeling seen within their families or the health care system, feeling like they don’t fit into particular and prescribed racial or gender boxes, or just feeling not seen for who they are and what they have to offer. As a result, we see depression and anxiety, grief, substance use, burdened relationships, and trauma. When I think about how to work with clients, it undoubtedly includes thinking about their cultural context, discussing systemic barriers, and moving through the therapeutic process while honoring cultural identity as a meaningful part of who they are.

What I learned from my NFGP participants and what I think we can take with us as clinicians is that identities are not always absolute; binaries and dichotomies do not always allow people to feel seen, and language and labeling is important and even has the power to construct relationships within families. Further, microaggressions (those daily, often unintentional ways genderqueers are slighted or not included) impact mental health, and how we support parents in how they model for their children has serious consequences. It is important that those of us who wish to support the mental health of genderqueer parents try to understand the burden of invisibility and its implications on health and happiness. We also have the responsibility to not duplicate the daily microaggressions they experience by educating ourselves and gaining the ability to think and speak about identity in a nuanced and complex way.

Hearing from genderqueer parents provided a clinical frame through which to view the importance of making what’s invisible more visible—through eliciting narratives and expanding binary thinking. We can address these problems through a process of getting to know our own values and identities, helping clients connect to their values and identities, and being an active part of helping our clients feel seen in their identities. If our clients, genderqueer or cisgender, parent or child, can navigate through life from a place of feeling seen—and really seen, which means space has been made for their unique and intersecting identities—empowerment and therapeutic change become possible in a whole new way.

Kimberly Alston-Stepnitz attends the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA and will acquire her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology in June 2016. She has worked in a variety of community mental health settings over the past five years conducting therapy, therapeutic assessment, and running groups for individuals, couples, and families. She is currently at her pre-doctoral internship in a county hospital collaborating with medical providers to provide mental health services for patients; she will continue with her post-doctoral placement in a medical setting. Throughout her work in these settings, Kimberly has gained insight into the power of systemic barriers to mental health, as well as the ways marginalization and invisibility of identities can impact one’s health. This continues to inspire her to work from a social justice perspective. 

Kimberly’s interest in studying genderqueer parents has been inspired by her personal experiences as a queer parent partnered with a genderqueer parent, as well as her clinical work with LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families. She has presented her research at various conferences including the National Transgender Health Conference, LGBT Research Symposium, and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s 6th Annual Division Conference.


Educators for Fair Consideration, www.E4FC.org, is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides direct support and advocacy for immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S., but face challenges due to financial need and immigration status.  Free, online, downloadable resources available on their website.

Gonzales, R.G. (2010).  On the wrong side of the tracks: Understanding the effects of school structure and social capital in the educational pursuits of undocumented immigrant students.  Peabody Journal of Education, 85:4, 469-485, DOI: 10.1080/0161956X.2010.518039

Gonzales, R.G., Suarez-Orozco, C., & Dedios-Sanguineti, M.C. (2013).  No place to belong: Contextualizing concepts of mental health among undocumented immigrant youth in the United States.  American Behavioral Scientist, 57(8) 1174-1199.