people wearing face masks

MFP Resiliency in Pandemic Times


MINORITY FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM ALUMNI


Monique Barber, MS MFP-AC: Master’s Alum (2018), National Board of Certified Counselors
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2020. I had to make the difficult decision to quit my job to protect my health while I was in treatment (I'm currently going through chemotherapy). I'm a new counselor, so my professional identity has been impacted because I had to leave my job due to both my cancer diagnosis and the pandemic. I'm adapting by choosing to focus on self-care and believing that God's purpose is being revealed during this difficult season.

Bianca Boyd, MS Candidate MFP-Y: Master’s Alum (2016), National Board of Certified Counselors
My focus has been on counseling my students virtually as well as maintaining my own mental health during quarantine. To adapt for my students, I think being in communication with my office has been essential. I advocate for access to virtual tools my students need. For my own mental health, I try to keep a routine and practice self-care.

Shannon Kratky, MS MFP-AC: Master’s Alum (2018‒2019), National Board of Certified Counselors
One of the greatest challenges during the pandemic for me and the clients I serve has been the transition to group and individual sessions by telehealth instead of in-person. I am so inspired by the dedication, resilience, and perseverance of the clients I serve (those experiencing homelessness and in early recovery from addiction and mental health concerns). Their commitment to recovery and healing has been all the inspiration and strength I need to continue to be there for them. I am humbled and honored to serve each and every one of them, especially in this unprecedented time.

Andrew Medina, BS MFP-AC: Master’s Alum (2011), National Board of Certified Counselors
We have had to transition to teletherapy for school and work. Many of my clients have not had the resources for teletherapy. We have been providing group and individual services over the phone as well. We have had to provide phone service for clients that do not have the resources for teletherapy.

Beronica Salazar, MS, Ph.D. MFP: Post-doctoral Alum (2013‒2014), National Board of Certified Counselors
In the early days of the pandemic, we were fortunate in Idaho that there were few COVID-19 cases. We remained open longer than most states; however, in March, our governor initiated a stay home order to help keep our COVID-19 numbers low. In late March, we had an ethics training planned at one of the largest school districts that was canceled due to the stay home order. The decision was made to open up the training again as an interactive webinar but we didn’t know what this would look like or even if we could make it work in such a short amount of time, because our university was closing down. Within a short period, re-enrollment was set up for the ethics training, and participants received guidance on how to connect via Zoom. Connecting via Zoom required lots of mentoring and guidance before the training. Although we had a few hiccups, the event was a success, and many of the participants were happily surprised by their distance learning experience. As a presenter, I was happily surprised to see how much I learned and grew through this experience and viewed the stay home order as a unique opportunity to push me to extend the training to many that would otherwise not have had the opportunity to attend.

Beverly Sargent, Ph.D. MFP Post-doctoral Alum (2010‒2014), National Board of Certified Counselors
The greatest initial challenge was determining how to continue to serve our clients (individual and group). We initially used Zoom; however, for security purposes, the city's insurance company issued guidance requiring that we no longer use Zoom. As are result, we switched to Cisco Webex. My greatest challenge was learning the Webex system. We are still learning.

Loo Geb Seah-Mccrea, MA MFP-Y: Master’s Alum (2018‒2019), National Board of Certified Counselors
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I found it challenging to work from home because I had to prepare a workspace/home office and set up a work schedule that I could keep without sacrificing family and personal life. I was able to adapt by undergoing training in telehealth counseling services, being intentional about keeping to my work schedule, and incorporating daily exercise routines and taking breaks as well as keeping in touch with coworkers by telephone or other means.

Eric Wilson, BS, MEd MFP-Y: Master’s Alum (2016), National Board of Certified Counselors
We have continued to provide mental health support to low-income clients who do not have access to expensive technology for telehealth. We have worked on creative solutions to continue to provide support and treatment, even over the phone or via a video chat platform that works on cell phones.

Jonathan Yellowhair, MS MFP-AC: Master’s Alum (2018), National Board of Certified Counselors
Right now, our clients on the Navajo and Hopi reservation are navigating escalating cases of COVID-19. Because our reservation is so rural, we have developed a new Zoom curriculum to accommodate groups and individuals and are actually now accommodating more people than we did before the outbreak. Here we continue to work to combat suicidal ideation, relapse, depression, and grief for those who have lost family members and can’t mourn in our traditional ways. There is a long way to go, but as Indigenous people we will get through this the same way we’ve gotten through traumas in the past—as a community.


MINORITY FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM FELLOWS


Khadijah Brown, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a master’s in Couples and Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation June 2020.
I have been having difficulty juggling all responsibilities while on quarantine as well as maintaining needed motivation to complete tasks. I have managed this challenge by using a planner to map out assignments and responsibilities and being intentional about self-care.

Victoria Chiu, BA, BS MFP-Traditional: Doctoral Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation Fall 2023.
With the rising mental health needs of clients and moving to telehealth only—I have adapted to working with each client from home and navigating the new normal in New York City. I have also begun new online responses (i.e., support groups online) to respond to these rising needs. My academic coursework has not been impacted as much, but with my increased stress, I have exercised wisdom and discernment regarding work/life/school balance.

Crystal Clark, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation December 2020.
I find that I have been struggling with the focus and motivation needed to get my schoolwork done as we have transitioned to virtual classes and telehealth. I find that I am experiencing Zoom fatigue and am grieving the way life once was, where I had copious amounts of interpersonal interactions. I have talked to my supervisors and professors and commiserated with my peers. I have also readjusted my expectations for myself and have allowed myself more grace and kindness that I previously did.

Michael Curtis, MA MFP-Traditional: Doctoral Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation May 2022.
The most practical piece of advice I could offer to others is to find and engage in a daily self-compassion exercise, such a starting a self-compassion journal. As the world attempts to get back to normal, it’s important that we understand that we are still in the midst of a global crisis and have to extend warmth and understanding toward ourselves when we feel stressed or inadequate.

Ashley Demartra-Pressley, BA, BS MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a master’s in MaMFT/MDiv. Anticipated graduation May 2021.
Taking time to connect with spirit, self, and others is important. Allow space to acknowledge how you are experiencing the changes that are a result of COVID-19 and realize that you are not alone in this.

Joy Dima, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing an MSMFT. Anticipated graduation June 2020.
Do not feel pressured to do things during the pandemic. Listen to what your body is saying during this time. If it’s saying go for a walk, go for a walk. If it’s saying sit down and journal, sit down and journal. Being able to follow what your body is saying, allows you to feel more at peace.

Zamzam Dini, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation August 2020.
I think the most difficult challenge I faced was getting enough client contact hours for my practicum so that I could graduate. Luckily, I was able to complete 15 hours of training in 2 days and as a result gained approval to provide telehealth services and create more flexibility in my schedule to see more clients.

Farahdeba Herrawi, BS MFP-MHC: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), National Board of Certified Counselors. Pursuing an LMHC. Anticipated graduation May 2020.
The current pandemic has dramatically altered multiple aspects of my life. From moving across the country back home to Nevada, shifting my clinical work from in-person to telehealth, taking classes and graduating on Zoom, it just feels surreal. Never could I have anticipated living through an experience like this. This situation has, in many ways, forced me to shift my perspective and reexamine my entire life. What has helped me get through the bad days/weeks has been a myriad of meaningful moments and endeavors. Spending time to learn new skills, like crochet and Spanish, jotting down feelings of gratitude and appreciation, social distance walks with my family and friends, working out with YouTube videos; these actions have been helpful on the days when I am full of motivation. But there are also days when I find myself lacking the energy to even get out of bed. And on those days, I try to give myself the benefit of the doubt. I, like everyone else, am living in unprecedented times, where the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. It has been incredibly important for me to show empathy and compassion toward myself, to validate my own internal process, and to just take the break that I need.

Ashley Lagrange, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2018‒2020), American Psychological Association. Pursuing a master’s in Counseling Psychology. Anticipated graduation May 2020.
Always find a way to share joy with community. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed and tired doing mental health work, especially during difficult times. However, finding time to rejoice with community can help revitalize you in ways that did not feel possible. During quarantine I've been attending live DJ sets and Zoom parties to still do something that brings me joyful energy: dancing with my Afro-Latinx and Queer communities!

Gabrielle Maloney, BS MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation June 2021.
I think the biggest challenge I have faced is getting used to being in isolation by myself. Due to being in school I am away from my family, so it has been a challenge to not be quarantining with my family. On the bright side I have been able to establish a daily schedule and routine which has allowed me to adapt to our current situation. But, I am most of all finding ways to take care of myself through different outlets of self-care.

Debbie Manigat, BA, MS MFP-Traditional: Doctoral Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation 2021.
During the pandemic, I have learned how to balance life during the unknown. I had to quickly learn how to be a full-time doctoral student online and home school my two little children as a single mom. I also had to work from home full-time in addition to providing telehealth services online for my external practicum course. I have been able to adapt and overcome by using my faith, readjusting my budget, and sharing resources. Most of the resources that I found were through the MFP Coordinating Center highlighting online trainings: SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center and SAMHSA’s Prevention Technology Transfer Center Network. As a result of this information, I hosted several free online Zoom meetings to help inform the African American community on mental health and wellness to help decrease stigma and increase access to services.

Natira Mullet, AS, BS, MS MFP DCF Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a Ph.D. Anticipated graduation August 2020.
It is important to remember that just because we are spending more time at home, it does not mean we are spending more time taking care of ourselves at home. It's much more difficult to maintain a work/life balance when they're happening all in the same space. I think it's important that we are intentional about creating and maintaining good boundaries and checking in with ourselves about how we are doing day to day.

Sylvia Parron, MA MFP-Y Master’s Fellow (2021), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Anticipated graduation May 2020.
My biggest challenge was transitioning to providing telehealth therapy for my practicum and my full-time job as an ABA therapist. It was overwhelming, and I felt lost at times. I had a hard time adapting, but I got support from colleagues and other friends that are therapists, as well as friends who provide mental health services from home on a regular basis. I’m just getting settled in and it's been 2 1/2 months. Now I must readjust and transition back to "going" to work. Although I am preparing to go back to face-to-face sessions, I am taking a break to adjust, spend time with the family, and rest. I am hoping that my mind can get back into the regular routine of working and going to my practicum site.

PaQuita Pullen, MA, BS MFP-Traditional: Doctoral Fellow (2020‒2021), National Board of Certified Counselors. Pursuing an Ph.D. in Teaching and Clinical Supervision. Anticipated graduation August 2021.
Grieving the loss of the vision I had for myself both personally and professionally this year has been hard! Conferences cancelled, trainings postponed, travel limited, social gatherings banned, and so much more. Some days have been much more challenging than others. My spirituality has helped me to adapt to this challenge. Focusing my energy on what is divine and taking the moment to connect with myself, nature, and higher power through spiritual practices has been an amazing remedy!

Hailey Robertson, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2020‒2021), National Board of Certified Counselors. Pursuing a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Anticipated graduation May 2021.
I have faced many adversities during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I have been able to adapt by spending many hours outside involved in physical activity, practicing mindfulness of little pleasures (i.e., foam on a latte, watching my garden grow, painting, savoring food). While in many ways I have felt busier than ever before, it's the little things accompanied with prayer and intentional thankfulness that have allowed the uncertainty of the times to seem manageable.

Jacobie Robinson, BS, MA MFP-Traditional: Doctoral Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a Ph.D. Anticipated graduation August 2020.
Time and financial management have been the biggest challenge for me during this pandemic. Partnering with my wife and family concerning our obligations and being transparent with colleagues and mentors is key.

Madequor Tetteh-Ocloo, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing an MFT. Anticipated graduation June 2020.
In the beginning of quarantine, I had a hard time being home all the time. I felt like a prisoner in my own home and struggled with anxiety and depressive episodes. The transition to telehealth for my practicum site fell through as my school and the site were unable to reach an agreement. I was not allowed to properly terminate or provide an explanation to the clients. As a result of losing my practicum site, I am unable to get the hours required for graduation and will have to stay an extra quarter to complete my practicum requirements at a new site. Getting out of the house and going out for walks in my neighborhood, practicing gratitude, and being thankful for the things I have has helped a lot with my mental health issues. I realized that though it appeared I was losing everything, I have the things I need, love and support from friends and family, my health, a house, etc. Focusing on things I can control and accepting the things out of my control has also been helpful, though the lack of control is still very uncomfortable. Being very intentional about practicing self-love and kindness toward myself has been helpful. I have also enjoyed having wine nights over zoom with friends and laughing about our new norm. Finally, prayer, worship, reading my bible, and meditating on God's love has been helping me cope with a lot of my feelings of fear and anxiety.

Michell Temple, EdD MFP-Traditional: Doctoral Fellow (2019‒2020), National Board of Certified Counselors. Pursuing a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Anticipated graduation May 2021.
I am managing the pressures of the fellowship, work, school, and family. I wanted to start a private practice (counseling and research) and start a job search for a faculty position. I modified most of my final fellowship activities to complete presentations and meetings remotely with seasoned faculty. As far as the job search and private practice, I am engaging in preparation activities like revising my materials, completing online trainings, and earning certifications. For example, I completed a telehealth certification course and started another one on addictions. I am also moving forward with becoming a Cognitive Processing Therapy Provider. It seems once restrictions related to COVID are lifted, I will have a business plan and relevant training and certifications to provide the best mental health services to people from diverse backgrounds. I will also have well-refined applicant documentation for faculty positions.

Heather Wagoner, BS, BA MFP-AC: Master’s Fellow (2018‒2020), National Board of Certified Counselors. Pursuing a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Anticipated graduation May 2021.
I have worked to adapt to new methods of conducting services by receiving additional training and insights from colleagues, my institution, and federal/state guidelines on telehealth services and standards for care. I have adapted to the challenges with COVID-19 by implementing new protocol for face-to-face services, such as wearing a mask and gloves during Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) work with clients and sanitizing protocols after sessions. I have adapted to change in work/school atmosphere by creating new routines to create a feeling of normalcy.

Kimberley Warnecke, BA MFP-Y: Master’s Fellow (2020‒2021), National Board of Certified Counselors. Pursuing a master’s in Marriage, Family, and Couples Counseling. Anticipated graduation May 2022.
I've experienced increased difficulty focusing and getting schoolwork/work projects done in the amount of time that I would normally take to do it. Not being able to see my family, who all live in Hawaii, and celebrating my 30th birthday without them was hard. It's difficult not knowing when I will see my family and acknowledging that I don't have the same ability to drive to visit family that my friends have. I have been able to adapt and cope by going on daily (socially distant) walks in nature. I have developed a new daily routine and "schedule" for myself to help normalize a very abnormal time in life. I have also increased social support by reaching out and connecting with friends, family, church family, etc. more during this time. Doing creative things (cooking, baking, learning new crafts, making things for others, etc.) has also been a helpful way of coping.

Courtney Williamson, BA MFP-AC Master’s Fellow (2018‒2019), National Board of Certified Counselors. Pursuing a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Anticipated graduation August 2020.
A week into my first internship, the COVID-19 quarantine began, preventing me from reporting to my internship site, but more importantly, it prevented me from actively working on my individual fellowship plan goals. Rather than wait, I utilized all of my NBCC and SAMHSA resources to get trained in delivering telehealth services. I was able to secure a waiver from my college, allowing me to continue providing direct counseling services and attend real-time webinars.

Melissa Yzaguirre, BA, MS MFP-Traditional: Doctoral Fellow (2019‒2020), American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Pursuing a Ph.D. Anticipated graduation December 2022.
You know yourself best and what your needs are. They may be difficult to ask for but know that you are not in this alone. MFP Resiliency in Pandemic Times means that we are doing our best to continue to help our clients, community, and continue to be healers. It also means taking the time for self-care and remembering that you are also part of this pandemic. It is important to acknowledge that and know that putting yourself first is important as well.