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Olga Mejía Wins Innovative Counselor Education Program Award

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Olga Mejía, associate professor of counseling, was recently awarded the Innovative Counselor Education Program Award by the Western Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (WACES). Mejía conceptualized and constructed the Ánimo Latinx counseling emphasis, which is part of the counseling department in the College of Health and Human Development.

The Ánimo emphasis is a specialized clinical mental health training taught by fully bilingual, bicultural, and culturally responsive faculty. Faculty serve as mentors and role models and are representative of the Latinx community. Ánimo consists of five courses that are embedded within a larger 63-unit master’s level CACREP-accredited program.

Ánimo students receive bilingual, bicultural, and culturally responsive instruction and supervision; self-awareness as a bilingual/bicultural counselor; knowledge of Latinx-cultures and therapeutic-Spanish; interventions appropriate to Latinx and Spanish-speaking clients; and social justice advocacy for Latinx communities. The courses are primarily taught in English with ample opportunities to build therapeutic Spanish-speaking skills.

Since its inception in Fall 2018, Ánimo has consistently drawn increasing numbers of applicants for the limited 15 -18 slots per year. Although the general counseling program had good retention and graduation of Latinx students, Ánimo is significantly improving Latinx students’ sense of belonging, research experiences, mentoring/advising, and advocacy.

WACES was founded in 1961 as one of five regional organizations of the national Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES). WACES counts among its members professionals and students from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as Pacific Rim countries. WACES seeks to advance the education, credentialing, and supervision of counselors. The association advocates for a multicultural approach that honors diversity and promotes the mastery of knowledge, skills, and competencies of its members who work in guidance, counseling, and student personnel services in all settings of society.

To learn more about ​the Ánimo Latinx Counseling Emphasis visit:

Jessica Morrison