Camila Restrepo, a senior psychology major, is putting her skills to work at The New Hope Mental Health Counseling Services.
Camila Restrepo, now a senior, spent her childhood going back and forth between the coffee-growing region of Colombia and Queens, New York. She said the experience stimulated her curiosity about “people’s thoughts and their interaction with the external world.” This curiosity and the desire to help people who are between places and cultures inspired her to earn a bachelor’s degree—and then a doctorate—in psychology and become a clinical psychologist.
This summer, she took another step toward this goal by interning as a resident counselor at The New Hope Mental Health Counseling Services, one of the largest multicultural mental health programs in New York state.
As a resident counselor, she meets with new clients to do intakes, works with the compliance team and reviews therapist notes to ensure records are correct.
“In The New Hope Mental Health Counseling Services,” she said, “we are performing intakes in English or Spanish to individual clients, couples and families, where we collect background information, such as psychiatric history, social environment, physical health, developmental history, cognitive and functional assessments, as well as their reason for seeking therapy, in order to pair the client with the best resources and services. After the intake, we have to upload our notes from the session on the system.”
“It is significant to be part of the mental journey and to be the first interaction that the client has with the agency,” she continued. I appreciate the learning experience of being authentic and respectful with my responses to clients’ struggles and having all the necessary resources to provide the best assistance; especially when there are clients who are at high risk.”
Her background gives her insight into challenges her clients face. “My experience learning English was not linear due to the instability of being between my home in Colombia and my home in the United States,” she explained. “I have understood the challenges and experiences of bilinguals by being judged for my accent and for making some grammatical errors. For this reason, I intersect my research interests with language. These components of perceptions and language will be integrated into my future clinical psychology research.”
Restrepo said she hopes to “create connections and a space of vulnerability, and where I am able to support a person.”
Getting Involved at Adelphi
Restrepo has been active in her major even before The New Hope MHCS. She previously interned in a CSTEP summer research program through Adelphi, was a part of the Undergraduate Research and Creative Works Summer Fellowshipand was a student researcher in the Emerging Scholars Program. She is currently the treasurer of the Psychology Club and a research assistant for both the Developmental Lab and the Rupture Resolution Rating System (3RS) Lab, where she assists Assistant Professor Nathan George, PhD, and Professor Catherine Eubanks, PhD, respectively. She describes the two professors as being key mentors in her journey into the professional world.
She credits Adelphi for helping her develop her skills and providing “an atmosphere of knowledge where I have the opportunity and privilege to observe, participate and learn.
“Curiously, when my relatives asked me why I chose psychology, my answer was ‘to understand myself in order to understand others.’ Gradually, with psychology, peers, and mentors, I understood that our experiences clearly influence our perceptions and as a consequence our decisions consciously and unconsciously.”