Diversity and Inclusion 

NJPA is a member of the Inter-Mental Health and Psychological Associations Coalition (IMPAC)
Through the New Jersey Inter-Mental Health and Psychological Associations Coalition (IMPAC), NJABPsi, LMHANJ, and NJPA join together as equal partners to contribute their unique educational acumen, expertise, experience, and perspectives to obtain synergy as a resource to promote equality in mental health care and to zealously advocate for the mental health needs for the diverse population of the state of New Jersey. This will be accomplished by our respective organizations working together to develop initiatives to educate the public, as well as healthcare providers through training, professional presentations and mobilizing resources as needed to provide counseling and psychological services under emergent circumstances.

IMPAC Leaders -
LMHANJ President - Jesselly De La Cruz, DSW
LMHANJ Past-President - Ricardo Martinez, PhD
LMHA-NJ Past-President, Milton Fuentes, PsyD
NJABPsi President  - Monique Swift, PsyD
NJABPsi President-Elect - Barbara Prempeh PsyD
NJPA President-  Lucy Takagi, PsyD
NJPA President- Elect - Daniel Lee, PhD
NJPA Past-President - Morgan Murray, PhD
NJPA Executive Director- Keira Boertzel-Smith

December 2, 2020 IMPAC Program -Positive Black Identity Development: Threats and Strategies to Support Children and Parents
Presented by Valerie Harrison, JD, PhD and Kathryn Peach D’Angelo, EdD

Racism in the United States remains a persistent and urgent problem. Recent events have underscored the unfortunate reality that misunderstanding and confusion about race and racism continue to divide our country and thwart its forward progress. This workshop focused on the impact of racism on the health and welfare of Black children. Authors and educators, Drs. Valerie Harrison and Kathryn Peach D’Angelo, shared and discussed critical research about the complex factors that impact a Black child’s achievement and well-being. The participants learned about the role of positive racial identity as a critical tool in improving academic and social outcomes for Black children; threats to the development of positive racial identity; and strategies that support particular approaches to parenting and nurturing Black children in ways that equip them to navigate racism. Participants also learned how to go beyond a general awareness of racism to the next steps of understanding how racism still operates in the lives of Black people, and then to developing and implementing effective approaches to racial equity. 

On June 5, 2020, IMPAC hosted the One Scar, Too Many: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Undocumented Immigrants in the Face of Trauma presented by Luz M. Garcini, PhD, MPH. 
Dr. Garcini is an assistant professor at the Center for Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH) at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, and a Faculty Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Dr. Garcini’s research focuses on identifying, understanding, and addressing the health needs of at-risk Latinx immigrants. Her line of research known as Projecto Voces (Project Voices) is a combination of community efforts and research studies which for the past 8 years have generated scientific evidence to document and address the complex health needs of undocumented Latinx families and deportees.

2020 Join Statement -The New Jersey Inter-Mental Health and Psychological Associations Coalition (IMPAC) Responds to the Murder of George Floyd  - IMPAC joins in unison to acknowledge the trauma caused by racism and violence. Read our statement here.

2019 Joint Statement - The New Jersey Inter-Mental Health and Psychological Associations Coalition (IMPAC) Recognizes the 400th Anniversary of the first Africans who arrived in 1619, ushering in the Era of American Slavery Click here to read the full statement.

On April 12, 2019 - The Inter-Mental Health and Psychological Associations Coalition presented Shine a Light on Multicultural Mental Health Awareness in New Jersey at Rutgers University (Thank you Rutgers for graciously sponsoring the venue for this important event)

This 1.5 hour session presented the work of the APA Task Force on re-envisioning the Multicultural Guidelines for the 21st Century. The session presented the ten core multicultural guidelines that emerged from the process the Task Force engaged in. Each guideline was presented in the context of the overall model titled the Layered Ecological Model of the Multicultural Guidelines. The application of the multicultural guidelines for professional practice in the role of clinician, educator, consultant, and researcher was considered. At the heart of this framework, was a focus on the bi-directional relationship between psychologist/client; educator/student; consultant/consultee; and researcher/research participant. An ecological, intersectional approach was taken throughout the presentation. The session promoted a dialogue about the need for psychology to make multicultural practice central to the profession.

NJPA Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI)
The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) is responsible for examining issues of diversity and cultural competence in the field that have an impact upon the practice of psychology.  The committee will look to advise the board in fostering multicultural awareness and inclusiveness within the organization. 

In 2018, The NJPA Executive Board approved a CODI proposal to create an Immigration Emergency Action Group that will explore how to address the mental health needs of those directly and indirectly affected by the immigration crisis.  This group will also explore the feasibility of working toward changing existing immigration policies and laws based on psychological research that demonstrates the detrimental short and long-term effects of the current practices (E.g., separation of immigrant families).  

CODI sends a diversity delegate to each APA Practice Leadership Conference in Washington DC. NJPA has had a long history of fully funding diversity delegates through the years that began when APA instituted training on diversity at the SLC in 2000. Through the generous support of APA’s Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP), as well as the Office of Ethnic Minority Affair’s (OEMA) Grants for Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, & Training (CEMRRAT), our own diversity initiatives have been enhanced.
CODI Co-Chairs:

Phyllis Bolling, PhD
Susan Herschman, PsyD

2020 NJPA Virtual Fall Conference
Domestic Violence and COVID-19: A Multicultural Focus Presenters: Shamita Das Dasgupta, PhD, Paola Marin Rivera, PsyD, and Charlena Sears, MA with Moderator: Daniel Lee, PsyD
The CODI Town Hall program focused on domestic/intimate partner violence, and COVID with a specific emphasis on aspects of domestic violence in communities of color.  The presentation of domestic violence and intersections of race/ethnicity in the Black/African American, Latinx, and South Asian communities explored utilizing both didactic and experiential methods.  Implications for the clinicians’ need to be prepared for the treatment ramifications of the COVID pandemic on domestic violence and communities of color were addressed.

2019 NJPA Fall Conference
Addressing Racial Trauma in Therapy: Managing Client and Therapist Anxiety

Presenters: Briana Cox, PsyD, Susan Herschman, PsyD, Jennifer Jones, PsyD
with Moderators: Caridad Moreno, PhD and Lucy Takagi, PsyD  

We are exposed to the issue of racism through media and daily experience and so are our clients. Many times our clients need a safe space to navigate all of the input they receive and come to terms with how racism and oppression are impacting their lives. Dealing with the topic of racism in an open, factual and compassionate way may alleviate some client anxiety around the topic and help them address these issues in a safe environment. This session explored the role race plays in the therapeutic process when addressing issues of racial trauma and offer the participants techniques to openly discuss race and racial trauma in a therapeutic setting. White fragility is a process by which white people experience discomfort and anxiety when confronted with information about racial inequality and injustice. This presentation further explored ways in which this process impedes White therapists’ ability to effectively treat people of color, particularly those affected by race-based trauma.

A group exercise was employed at the end of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) presentation on Racial Trauma. The audience was divided into smaller groups, with CODI member’s role playing and facilitating the exercise. The exercise consisted of 1-2 brief role plays, displaying a Black client in session with a non-Black psychologist, reporting different anxiety-provoking incidents. The goal of the role play (s) was to highlight situations, where incidents perceived as racially loaded or traumatic, could be effectively addressed by the therapist in a racially sensitive manner. Further, role play (s) discussions higlighted the psychologist’s humility in addressing the patient’s experience, as well as possible complaints about the therapy.

2018 CODI NJPA Fall Conference Program 

Diversity Town Hall -- Engaging Clients across Cultural Divides:  Using the New APA Multicultural Guideline
Presenters: Susan Cohen Esquilin, PhD, Lale Bilginer, PhD, Phyllis Bolling, PhD, Briana Lee Cox, PsyD,  Caridad Moreno, PhD, Morgan Murray, PhD

On November 2, 2018, the CODI presented a continuing education program within our 2018 Fall Conference titled Engaging Clients across Cultural Divides: Using the New APA Multicultural Guideline. This program provided an overview of the APA Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality, published by APA in 2017. A particular focus was on the implications of these guidelines for the development of relationships between psychologists and clients, in both assessment and treatment contexts. The presentation included a discussion of the "layered ecological model" used by the guidelines. There was a focus on the first two of the ten guidelines which indicate that social identities are "fluid, complex, and dynamic" and exist within ever changing larger social environments. In the context of helping relationships, attention is focused on the self-definition of both the client and helper, how these self-definitions interact with issues of power and privilege, and the need for "cultural humility" by psychologists. There was an opportunity for self-exploration and small group discussions regarding participants' self-identities and the impact of identity differences between psychologists and clients. NJPA felt this experience enhanced sensitivity to issues of diversity and inclusion for New Jersey psychologists within their clinical practices and professional interactions. The CODI program was followed by a social event - photo above.

2017 CODI NJPA Fall Conference Program

Power Dynamics and Domestics Violence: The Psychologist’s Role
Presenters: Phyllis Bolling, PhD; Aida Ismael-Lennon, PsyD; Alexandra Gil, MA; Morgan Murray, PhD; and Christopher Thompson, EdS

The focus of this program was to provide a combined Socratic didactic experience that will enhance the participant’s knowledge of asymmetrical power dynamics inherent in working with domestic violence survivors. Participants explored how their own intersecting identities associated with increased status and power may contribute to unacknowledged power imbalances within the therapeutic relationship, as well as how these same dynamics may play out in their clients’ relationships outside of the therapy room. Special implications for the psychologist’s role as a source of intervention was delineated from a multicultural perspective, attending to the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation within both the client and therapist.

2016 CODI Town Hall - NJPA Fall Conference

The 2016 CODI Town Hall on “Microaggressions: Why we need to Listen” was enthusiastically attended by approximately ninety NJPA members early on the morning of 22 October 2016. Participation by the members present clearly indicated a commitment to openly exploring issues of cultural competence both within the organization as well as with the diverse clientele we as psychologists service within the state of New Jersey.


  2015 Diversity Town Hall - NJPA Fall Conference

“What activities or ways will help NJPA members to become more involved on issues of diversity and inclusion?”

On October 24, 2015, the NJPA Fall Conference started with a meaningful diversity dialogue, including working towards understanding NJPA’s diversity make up.