OYM Patricia Perez | Career In Psychology

 

Are you thinking of pursuing a career in psychology but don’t know where to focus? With many branches and approaches out there, it can be confusing to find the path you can best fit and serve in. In this episode, we are joined by Patricia Perez, Ph.D. She is a core faculty in the International Psychology Department of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. With her background and over 25 years of experience, Dr. Perez offers us a great view of the world of psychology. What are the similarities and differences between functional medicine and integrative medicine? What can you do if you don’t want to go the traditional allopathic route? What is non-licensure? Dr. Perez answers these questions and more! Plus, she also lets us in on their program at the International Psychology Department, how they hone their students, and what opportunities await for them after.

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Finding Your Path When Pursuing A Career In Psychology With Dr. Patricia Perez, International Psychology And Community Mental Health

Patricia H. A. Perez, PhD is core faculty in the International Psychology Department of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She’s originally from the Philippines. Dr. Perez received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Northwestern University, a Master of Education degree in Child Development and Infant Studies from the Erikson Institute, and her Doctorate degree with a Minor in Multicultural Counseling in Counseling Psychology from the Loyola University of Chicago. Dr. Perez has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Child Development and Psychology on-ground and online courses across five higher education institutions over the years. Dr. Perez has over 25 years of experience working with young children and families in community-based settings.

Welcome. Thank you so much for being here. It’s great to see you, Trish.

Thanks so much, Tim.

I was hoping you could start us off by letting us know a little bit about how you got into the work you’re doing and what drives your passion for it.

That’s such a big question but very needed to contextualize everything moving forward in this conversation. My role is departmental full-time faculty at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in the International Psychology Department. Personally, I’m originally from the Philippines. I moved every 1 to 5 years growing up from the Philippines to parts of the United States. I lived in London for five years. That was my background.

Professionally, I don’t know if you know this, but I originally started as a classically-trained concert pianist. I went to Northwestern University as a Piano Performance major. I switched to Psychology in my sophomore year because I felt like I wanted to interact with people. My purpose and meaning were to attend to the thinking, feeling, and behaving of people. I love the arts. I also was a ballerina. I love the arts so much, but I felt like my purpose and meaning was to be out there with people.

My other background is I’m also a child development person from 0 to 3. I do maternal and infant mental health work. My PhD is in Counseling Psychology from the Loyola University of Chicago with an anchor and a concentration in Multicultural Counseling. With all of that, how does that get me to this point? My mission and vision are to be inclusive in terms of understanding and contextualizing what health and well-being are.

Mental health and well-being have always been something, but since COVID, we have examined and investigated many people all around the world, which is my space, global, of what health means to people. What is health? What is well-being? What is access? What is treatment? That is why I would say the notion of integrative and functional health, both of those, is a priority, or maybe people want it to be a priority in their life. My personal and professional background allows me to think in many ways. Children and families are my population. I work across a lifespan. That’s a mouthful of information, but we could start there.

That’s excellent. One of the things I’m hoping we’ll talk about is if you can help people or put some information out there for people who might want to get a career going in mental health and focus on functional medicine or integrative medicine approach as opposed to the standard medical model that’s evolved over the years.

I started working in the therapy field many years ago. I watched it evolve away from talk therapy toward medication-matching symptoms. From having people come to me and having the demonstration in people’s daily lives, that wasn’t working. We needed to get back into solution-focused and efficient practices, tools, and techniques.

It’s been a struggle, like the salmon going upstream, ever since then because the flood of money and the flood of the insurance programs were headed in the other direction. They were like, “Let’s get a list of symptoms and a list of meds, match the two, and then send people on their way.” What advice do you have for somebody? What’s your shorthand version of how you would define functional medicine and/or integrative medicine? What are the differences and the similarities?

That’s a great starting point because when you said, “One of the strategies,” we have to scale back for a minute to have a foundation of how we may define Integrative health and functional health. This is my lived experience and perspective. Integrative health is client-centered. It’s individualized. A client can be redefined as may be part of a family or a collective.

In other spaces, it’s also considered complementary or alternative. For example, here in the United States, what we consider best practices in western medicine and treatment in terms of physical and psychological is the base of whatever those best practices are. Anything other or that’s different would then be added on as complementary or alternative.

The point here is it’s a whole person. You’re not just looking at the biological bases, but you’re also looking at psychological. Maybe you’re looking at cultural norms. You’re also looking at what works for the family or the client. It’s all of these things that may not be, from a Western standpoint, an evidence-based practice. Those are things like meditation, yoga, herbs, or acupuncture. For some practitioners, that may not be part of their wheelhouse as far as how they were trained in the West. That would be, in general, my definition of integrative health.

As far as functional health or functional assessments, there are three parts to my understanding. It’s looking at the physical, psychological, cognitive, and even developmental assessment of a client. It is looking at their daily functioning. Number one is their daily functioning. Number two is what roles they play in that daily functioning, and whether they’re doing that to the best of their ability. Three, which is not the least bit of it, is maintaining their health and well-being and optimizing that. Those are things that you are functioning within the world and the society that we’re living in. I’m not speaking to the United States. I’m speaking to the whole world.

You can imagine then the definitions of integrative health and functional health are contextualized based on the individual and based on people’s core values. For example, people who come from other parts of the world may not have the same understanding, action, or seeking health treatment behaviors as other people who have lived here in the United States all their lives.

OYM Patricia Perez | Career In Psychology

Career In Psychology: The definitions of integrative health and functional health are contextualized based on the individual and based on people’s core values.

 

What I found interesting in thinking about this idea of integrative and functional health is that there was a national survey that was done in 2012 through the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. It suggests that 30% of adults use integrative health or seek integrative health approaches for treatment and 12% of children seek that. I can only imagine that that will increase as our demographics here in the United States and worldwide continue to be not homogeneous.

From my perspective, that’s the basis of these definitions, but I always wonder. As an international psychologist and also a psychotherapist, I would like to know from people seeking careers, clientele, or anybody what these words mean. That, as a practitioner, would help me understand, and then also, that’s the first tip for a strategy. If someone wants to go into a career like this, what’s your own idea of health, well-being, and then the fields of integrative health and functional health? I see both of them are quite interrelated.

As an individual clinician, as I went through my training and own individual therapies, what I noticed from myself and the people that I worked with whom were other therapists, other people in training for the doctorate program, etc. was that as they had their own individual difficulties and they went to get their own help, own support, and own therapy for personal growth or to heal traumatic wounds of the past, whatever therapy approach clicked with them was what they then went on to get more trained in and what they did most with their patients.

It’s a personal thing. You align with it. What’s interesting is that people always say, “How did you go into psychology?” On a personal note, because we, as children, were going around and moving so much with my family as my dad continued to increase his remarkable career in his work and being sought after, there were health challenges for all these different transitions for everybody in the family. This aligns with the mobility of our world. Even with the introduction of technology and even what we’re doing now, all of these things can impact our health because it requires us to change and adapt.

People seeking certain therapeutic approaches are like, “That feels good.” For example, a theory that I subscribe to is attachment theory. It is looking at attachments or place attachments. It is also looking at psychodynamic or more relational things based on what’s comfortable for me as a clinician but also what is part of my nature or part of myself.

We talk about this in humanism that you can’t fake yourself. You could try. You could be a fake clinician or not be authentic. When we think about careers, too, we have to find a sense of balance. We’re like,
“How much will I build skills and learn either in a job, in an internship, a postdoc, or even an academic career or academic training?” It is then how much of it is you and how much of it speaks to you. You could do a whole bunch of assessments, like a strength-based something or an MMPI, but at the core, it speaks to you in some way.

It makes perfect sense that you started out by saying that you moved around so much in your life. It makes perfect sense that some kind of a theory that talks about the difficulty in attachment, or resolving those difficulties would resonate strongly with you. I had a situation where I hated school. Every part of it, I hated it. The only thing I liked about school was my friends.

By the time I finished college, which was a slog all the way through, I was done with school. I was going to take years off. I took five years off. When I decided to go back to grad school and give it a try, I was so out of practice that I said, “I should take a night course or two at a graduate level to see if I can even get the brain functioning again.”

In that first class I took, I stumbled across a teacher who said, “You’re going to run into a lot of stuff out there. There are a lot of theories about how you’re not responsible for anything in therapy. It’s all on the patient.” He said, “I don’t subscribe to that. You have a tremendous responsibility to make sure that you’re not wasting their time and that you’re accountable for what you do.” That got in because I had spent seven years already by that point working in corrections. You have to be practical and results-oriented if you’re trying to help people on probation and things like that. That solidified that for me.

Everything I was drawn to after that in all of my education and training leaned toward, “Let’s be practical. Let’s be results-oriented. Let’s be solution-focused.” That’s what resonated with me. Those pieces started to fall together more. That was the kind of therapy that I liked because when I did it for myself, it helped me get over the roadblocks that I was facing.

Let’s say that you have somebody, whether they come into the graduate school or I don’t know if you have contact with people at the college level or undergrad level. What advice would you give them if they say they want to get into the field, but don’t want to go the traditional allopathic way? They don’t want to get stuck sending people to psychiatrists and monitoring meds.

Besides a couple of things that I brought up, this is a great segue to what you said about your journey. I’m a big believer in having personal and professional mentors. Mentorship is identifying people in your life that you can learn from. This could be very outside of the box, but it could also be, because we’re in the age of technology and we’re looking at things, thinking, “Who can mentor me and guide me in these types of things?” For example, I mentioned that I have a background in Performing Arts. I still use the skills of discipline, research, and mastery from my piano teacher and my ballet teacher.

Mentorship is identifying people in your life that you can learn from. Share on X

You don’t have to throw away the stuff that you learned from the past as you maybe pivot in different careers across your lifetime. In this generation, many of us do. It’s maybe not in the past in my parent’s generation, but in this generation, we do. That would be the number one, whether it’s undergrad or grad. It is to seek mentors. It doesn’t have to be mentors in integrative health or functional. They are mentors in general that you feel have a good fit with you.

Number two is assessing your skills and competencies. What do I mean by that? You were telling me what your journey was like and what you learned. You can assess your own skills, competencies, or things that you’ve attained. However, what would be great is to ask close family and friends, or even people who are acquaintances or you work with, “How do you see me? How do you view me?”

I was the eldest of four kids, so I felt like I was a bridge between my parents and my siblings in all of these moves. People would often comment to me growing up, “You’re generous. You’re kind. You like to help people, but at the same time, you’re very practical. You give baby steps to all of the outcomes. You are able to adapt. You can feel and have intuition.” All of those skills and competencies can change over time as you grow as a clinician or somebody in the field. Gathering that information at certain checkpoints in your life is important because that can then inform you of what your next steps are.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in International psychology is a non-traditional track. It’s non-clinical and non-licensure. It is skills and competency-based. We look at psychology in terms of a global context, which is thinking, feeling, behaving, and recognizing that the Western models of practice are not always the best.

Let me slow you down and have you define it for us non-licensure. It is skills and competency-based, but what do you mean by non-licensure?

The PhD and the Master’s programs are non-licensure for the United States. It is a skills and competency-based program. There is no way necessarily of having a degree program. We are the only Master’s and PhD programs in International Psychology that you can monitor and standardize all licenses all around the world and have the match although there is a movement towards that.

Many of our students that come in, especially our trauma services track in the PhD program, have licenses on a Master’s level if they’re from the United States and wherever they are in the world, whatever their ethical bodies are. From a degree-seeking program, since we are the only one and quite innovative, that’s what I mean.

I’m trying to think about our audience here who won’t have sophistication in all of these different layers. They’re like, “What does that mean if you don’t have a license? Can you get reimbursed by insurance and this and that?” When you say that you can get the licensure at the Master’s level, then that gives people that kind of flexibility if they want to go into clinical work and get reimbursed for it.

It is a licensure that they’re already entering. Let’s say, for example, our doctoral program. It is with a license. That’s why it’s different. Doing integrative and functional health doesn’t have to be part of being necessarily a clinician. You could add that layer on a doctoral or Master’s level. Getting a double Master’s one is a clinical one, and then something like ours. However, there are other ways of adapting the skillsets that you learn within both of our programs.

OYM Patricia Perez | Career In Psychology

Career In Psychology: Doing integrative and functional health doesn’t have to be part of being necessarily a clinician. You could add that layer on a doctoral or Master’s level.

 

We also have a certificate program on crisis-informed care that I lead. You can integrate a lot of those learnings with integrative health and functional health. Some of our students do this type of work in terms of consultation, like mental health consultation. It could be they’re ahead of a company, a CEO, that is focused on health and well-being and they do strategic planning around it.

That’s the kind of thing people do with a degree more than straight clinical.

Correct. There are many ways of doing it. Some students do have clinical backgrounds and have the licensure wherever they live in the world. At a bare minimum, it is a Master’s level. They don’t choose us if they want to get a PhD in a clinical program. What’s innovative about us is that they get the skillset of being able to navigate globally.

Expand a little bit about the various things of people who get the degree from the Chicago School in the International Psychology Department and the kinds of careers that they develop with that degree and with that training.

There’s a lot. We have three programs. We have a certificate program, which is post-bachelor, called Crisis-Informed Care in a Diverse Globalized World. We have a Master’s program. There is no concentration in the Master’s program. However, there are specific areas that we touch on, like environmental, organizational leadership, and things related to trauma or more clinician-based. In our doctoral program, we have two tracks. It is organizations and systems, which are geared more toward business. We have trauma services, which is our second doctoral concentration.

I’ve been in this core faculty position since 2014, so I’ve seen many students come through and graduate. Here are some ideas of the careers that students have had. Number one, they stay in their current position, whatever that is, and create a new position in whatever industry. International psychology cuts across all industries. It doesn’t have to be being a clinician, working in a hospital, doing assessments, or anything related to health. They create their own position that incorporates the core skills and competencies of international psychology. That’s one.

Two, they incorporate the skills and competencies that they’ve learned to diversify their clinical practice. In other words, they include more people from other racial and ethnic groups, marginalized communities, or maybe populations that they never felt like they could service. They now build a practice that incorporates the skills using their primary therapeutic models and what they believe in. They then add that skillset of understanding and contextualizing what health and well-being mean to them. That’s number two.

Number three, people start non-governmental organizations. Many of them start non-governmental organizations all around the world. Maybe they came into the program, and that’s what they wanted to do. They got the skillset from us, and then they feel well-equipped to be able to then start an NGO as an executive director, chief operating officer, or something like that to then be able to carry out their plan and then hire people that are like-minded. That’s another career path.

Four, there are some of our students who love each other so much and their cohort that they start their own NGO. They start their own NGO that builds on their skills. For example, maybe one person’s good at organizational leadership and got their PhD in the organization systems track. They’re now the head of it, and then there are some of their cohort members who are good at clinical work. They have a license or, are clinically minded. They’re someone who’s good at assessment or someone who’s good at web design and social media. It is all of those types of things. That’s another avenue.

Some want to teach. They teach within our department. They also teach in areas like cultural studies or global studies in other parts of the world or universities here in the United States that have that. Some of them can teach global business, international business, international relations, global mental health, and those types of things. There are more, but those are the most dominant career paths that many of our students seek. Many of them have chosen our programs for a specific reason.

You said you’ve been in that program for eight years.

I am going on nine years as core faculty.

How many students are, at any given time, engaged at the school in a track or program? How big is the Chicago school?

I don’t think I could really answer that, but it’s around 250 students across our three graduate programs.

What’s the most rewarding part of the work you do for yourself, personally?

There are so many. First of all, like how you said you didn’t like school, I didn’t like school either. I thought it was boring. I did what I had to do. If any of my students read this, they’ll laugh. I didn’t like school at all either. I thought it was boring. My mind or the way that I process things, understand things, and am excited by things was not how the instruction was delivered for me personally.

It’s ironic that I am a professor. I’ve been a professor. I’ve taught in four higher ed institutions for many years. This isn’t the only institution that I’ve been in, but it’s what I’m doing. The joy that I find is being able to mold students and train them, guide them, teach them, and mentor them. Especially my dissertation students, by the time they complete their dissertation and we say, “Your dissertation has been approved. We’re launching you out into the world,” it’s almost like you’ve raised more children that will go out there.

As a professor, the joy is in being able to mold, train, guide, teach, and mentor students. Share on X

They’re the leaders. They’re going to be the leaders of tomorrow. They’re reaching their potential, at least in our degree programs, and they’re off. They’re off and doing wonderful things. Many of them come back to me and tell me about all the things that they’ve learned from me that were life lessons. Much of my instruction is not about going through the hoops of the programs. It is launching them and letting them go.

I told you about attachment theory and how I feel that, but then, you let them go. You let them go, and they’re able to do all these wonderful things. They come back to me oftentimes and tell me about all the things that they’ve done and what they’ve learned. That’s what keeps me to be a professor. That keeps me to be able to mold, guide, mentor, and teach the next generation of professionals in psychology, whether they’re clinicians or CEOs. It’s that.

The other thing is I love to network. I have many global projects as an international psychologist in many parts of the world. I go to places for my global projects in the Philippines, my home country. I’ve had global projects in Indonesia with colleagues. There is also Kuwait. I’m going there with the students. There is Mexico City, Ghana, and Egypt.

They are places that I don’t know who they are, but we’re connected in some way that is similar to how we’re connected here. I get to learn about what mental health and well-being are in their communities if they ask me. I don’t like to push myself. We teach our students that we don’t push ourselves as outsiders onto other people’s communities if they don’t ask or it’s not culturally relevant or appropriate. That’s also what brings me joy and is exciting.

OYM Patricia Perez | Career In Psychology

Career In Psychology: We don’t push ourselves as outsiders onto other people’s communities if they don’t ask or it’s not culturally relevant or appropriate.

 

I’m looking at our time here and realizing it’s a little short. I usually ask people if we’re winding down here. What’s something that we’ve already talked about that you want to go back and highlight? It may also be something I haven’t even asked you yet about yourself or your work that you want to make sure we put out there for the audience as we’re talking about the potential for careers in integrative and functional medicine and mental health.

There are a lot of things to talk about, but the one thing that I want to say that drives a lot of the work that I do personally and professionally is the idea of human rights. It is human rights and understanding what the rights are in terms of access, resources, and matching anything related to health and well-being. An example of this, which is a strategic initiative, is the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. There are seventeen of them looking at health and well-being. Integrative and functional health is very much part of that to dispel things like inequities and be able to have access to things, whether it’s basic needs or not.

If anybody chooses to have a career in this, that could be the starting point. We all have rights globally as humans to be able to work on our optimal health and well-being, whether it is integrative, which many people do and many people use within their own country and functioning. We want to be able to function in the best personal and professional backgrounds. That would be something that’s a little bit more high-level in understanding this topic.

We all have rights globally as humans to be able to work on our optimal health and well-being. Share on X

As soon as you say human rights, my mind says there are rights that are afforded by people in certain countries. That can be different from what we idealize as what human rights should be. I imagine that as you’re experiencing travel in these various areas, that’s part of what you have to step through. It is to figure out what’s the standard that’s accepted here and how you match that with what your ideas might be about what the right should be as people, as a family, or as a culture.

That is very much so.

I had several of these in my early career in my internship in Chicago. They had 7 or eight 8 HMO offices. It was Rush Prud, St. Luke’s, and their Anchor HMO. I ran into a number of families from different cultures. What they were coming to ask me for help with was what I would consider a hangnail. They were demonstrating in the session what I would consider a broken bone or a bleeding artery.

I would say, “We need to do something about this.” They’d say, “We’re here for that. This is completely acceptable. We are not going to try and stop this in our family.” It was a real eye-opener for me as a young therapist to say, “How do I address what they want me to address? How do I balance that with what my personal sensibilities or my culture would say is acceptable or not acceptable and what they want to move on through as though it’s not there?”

This is the stuff we teach in our program because we’re navigating internationally and globally those ethical dilemmas. It’s these dilemmas of we have to think about ethical code of conduct. We also use universal principles and ethical principles for psychologists. We have to think about those as your role. It is your role as a therapist, but also, part of it is also your personal.

This is an example. When I’m faced with things like that globally or even here within the United States and it’s not emergent, I need to get a contextual sense of what is going on and where that thinking is coming from. Where is that thinking? Once I get that snapshot, sometimes, it’s very quick. We have to make decisions quickly.

I’ve worked at hospitals and ERs here in the United States, too. When you have to do a psych assessment, a screening, or assess for suicide and things like that, which suicide’s a whole different topic all around the world, then the next step is I say, “Here.” Thinking about laws is the other thing. The law would be the grounding point. It is like, “This is what we need to do first.” It’s such a hard thing to think about though.

It brings up all kinds of different levels and layers. What I love about what you’re talking about with your program is that you teach the people going through your program how to navigate those skills and competencies. If you’re getting trained within one country, it’s far simpler.

Our students come from all over the world. That’s the other thing. It’s not just the United States. They want to know, “How do I contextualize this in my own country?” I go, “Let’s start looking at the laws.” We want to be lawful. We want to be able to practice and do what we do in a lawful way. We don’t want to get in trouble. International laws are typically a starting point. It is then things like the worldview of health and well-being within the country. What is the typical viewpoint of health and well-being?

In some countries, mental health and stigma are not a thing. My expectation of the priorities needed for mental health is not in other people’s priorities. However, our students are getting a degree in this. Mental health is a priority because that’s why they’re with us. What small piece of change in their role can they have to be not only lifelong learners but to have cultural humility and be honest with themselves that they don’t know everything all around the world? We’re not masters of any cultural context.

It’s also not even our own.

That’s what’s fun about investigating and examining human nature whether it’s international psychology. That’s what’s great about psychology. That’s what lured me to psychology. You get to investigate each person like a puzzle, but it’s all different puzzles. If you like puzzles, and I love puzzles, this allows us to do that very individualized, whether it’s an individual or a group. We get to think outside of the box within certain frameworks that make us, as professionals, authentic.

What's great about psychology is you get to investigate each person like a puzzle, but it's all different puzzles. Share on X

It’s almost like a framework. It’s a framework of how you might address the task and the issue at hand from that global or international lens. It’s not like the traditional models where it’s like, “You’ve got to do this, then you got to do this. Look at the criteria.” With the DSM-5-TR, even though it’s much more well-organized and there are more cultural-bound syndromes, there is still a lot that’s missing there.

Let’s say, for example, you use the DSM-5-TR in Ghana. Is that an appropriate tool? How would you adapt that to the cultural context? We have students who do that, too. I do that as well. I’m like, “Here are the criteria for major depressive disorder.” Does that fit the Ghanaian context? Those are the type of things we get to do.

I’m delighted that you were willing to share with us. Thank you so much. It’s an honor to learn more about what you do. If people want to reach out to you or your program, what’s the main website for them to do that?

It’s www.TheChicagoSchool.edu.

If they wanted to reach out to you, what is your address at the Chicago School?

It’s PPerez@TheChicagoSchool.edu.

Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a delight. I’m thrilled that you were willing to share with us.

Thank you so much, Tim.

Patricia H. A. Perez, PhD is core faculty in the International Psychology Department of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She’s originally from the Philippines. Dr. Perez received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Northwestern University, a Master of Education degree in Child Development and Infant Studies from the Erikson Institute, and her Doctorate degree with a Minor in Multicultural Counseling in Counseling Psychology from the Loyola University of Chicago.

Dr. Perez has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Child Development and Psychology on-ground and online courses across five higher education institutions over the years. Dr. Perez has over 25 years of experience working with young children and families in community-based settings. Dr. Perez is a member of Division 52 International Psychology of the American Psychological Association and has been appointed as a division representative for the APA’s Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education.

Since 2016, Dr. Perez has served as the chair of the scientific committee for the Middle East Psychological Association’s annual conference. She’s a past board member of the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health and a board member of DUNK, a nonprofit organization supporting community youth development through sports in Accra, Ghana. Dr. Perez is also a School of Education advisory board member at Pacific Oaks College and a recipient of the 2018 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for inspiring students to establish a concept, procedure, movement, and/or organization that makes a difference in their communities.

 

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About Patricia Perez

OYM Patricia Perez | Career In PsychologyPatricia H. A. Perez, PhD is core faculty in the International Psychology (IP) Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). She is originally from Quezon City, Philippines. Dr. Perez received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Northwestern University, Master of Education degree in Child Development and Infant Studies from the Erikson Institute and her Doctorate degree (minor in Multicultural Counseling) in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Perez has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in child development and psychology on-ground and online across five higher education institutions in the past 25 years.

Dr. Perez has over 25 years of experience working with young children and families in community-based settings, early intervention/0-3, hospitals, family support programs, and in private practice. Her areas of research and practice expertise include children and families, children with special needs, diversity/equity/inclusion/justice/belonging, parenting, cultural competence, lifespan development, child abuse and neglect, global trauma, career development, study abroad curriculum development, maternal/infant mental health, and acculturation psychology. Dr. Perez is a psychotherapist, mixed methods researcher, developmental specialist, cultural expert, and global consultant. Dr. Perez provides consultation nationally and internationally (United States, United Kingdom, Ghana, Kuwait, Philippines).

Dr. Perez is a member of Division 52 (International Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and has been appointed as the division representative for APA’s Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education. Since 2016, Dr. Perez serves as the chair of the scientific committee for the Middle East Psychological Association’s annual Conference. She is a past board member of the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health and a current board member of DUNK, a non-for-profit organization supporting community youth development through sports in Accra, Ghana. Dr. Perez is also a School of Education Advisory Board member at Pacific Oaks College and a recipient of a 2018 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for inspiring students to establish a concept, procedure, movement and/or organization that makes a difference in their communities.

 

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