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Social Justice, Holistic Mental Health to be Explored at Psy.D. Conference

RADFORD -- Radford University’s Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) recently hosted the Southern Regional Counseling Psychology Conference, with two high-profile speakers in the field discussing issues involving social justice and holistic mental health.

Melba Vasquez, president elect of the American Psychological Association (APA), spoke about social justice within the APA, and Tania Israel, president of the Society for Counseling Psychology, discussed holistic mental health in the context of privilege and oppression.

Vasquez described a brief history of the American Psychological Association’s dedication to social justice; its current commitment to the value of diversity, social justice and inclusion; and the presidential initiatives that she has undertaken. Vasquez is a psychologist and executive director of Vasquez & Associates Mental Health Services in Austin, Texas. There, she focuses on individual, group and relationship psychotherapy; consultation and training for organizations; and forensic consultation.

Israel’s presentation framed holistic mental health within the context of societal privilege and oppression. She discussed health disparities as ways in which oppression interferes with optimal functioning of mind, body and spirit. In her lecture, Israel defined privilege and examined the impact of unexplored privilege on the holistic mental health of people who identify with target and non-target groups. She also presented implications of oppression and privilege for holistic mental health practice, both within and beyond the therapy setting.

Much of Israel’s current research investigates the impact of counselor, client and contextual variables on the processes and outcomes of therapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients. Israel is an associate professor at Arizona State University.

November 23, 2010
Chad Osborne; 540-831-7761

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