Meet The Counseling Services Staff
COUNSELING SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
California Licensed Psychologist PSY22600
Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Pepperdine University
M.A., Psychology, Pepperdine University
B.A., Psychology, University of California, Riverside
Dr. Reynaga-Abiko has worked in university counseling centers since 2005, beginning as a staff psychologist and Chair of Latinx Student Outreach at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign before serving as Training Director and later Director at University of California, Merced. She joined Cal Poly as Director of Counseling Services in August 2013.
Dr. Reynaga-Abiko has experience providing individual and group psychotherapy to adults, supervising unlicensed professionals, and neuropsychological assessment. Dr. Reynaga-Abiko has published several book chapters, articles in journals such as Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology and Professional Psychology: Research and Practice and presented at national conferences for the American Psychological Association, National Latinx Psychological Association, and American College Personnel Association. She currently serves on the Advisory Board with the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.
Dr. Reynaga-Abiko is interested in cultural fluency, inclusion and living an authentic life filled with conscious awareness. A first generation college student from an immigrant family, she is interested in the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and spirituality in the human experience. Dr. Reynaga-Abiko practices from an intersubjective (psychodynamic), feminist-multicultural, and humanistic approach to help students understand themselves and their struggles in sociocultural context.
California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist MFC46301
M.S. & B.A., Psychology, California State University, Chico
Mr. Shurson’s professional experience is diverse, having been employed at a UCC, elementary school, community treatment center, and residential facility. He spent one year working as an MFT Trainee at Chico State’s Counseling Center, which was more than enough time to develop a deep regard for working with college students. The majority of his service has been provided to children, adolescents, and adults with persistent and severe mental illness and their families. Mr. Shurson worked for the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency for nearly 6 years which provided him opportunities to work with major psychotic and mood disorders, mostly with underserved and disadvantaged individuals and families in the California’s central valley. Due to this experience, he is also familiar collaborating with multi-interdisciplinary teams and approaching treatment from a holistic perspective.
Prior to moving to the central coast, Mr. Shurson was working at a not-for-profit residential facility in Kansas City, MO as a Primary Therapist before moving into a Director position. He returned to CA after just 2 years in the Midwest (though it felt like much, much longer) and has lived on the central coast since. Though he considers himself an eclectic practitioner capable of being effective with most presenting issues, his clinical interests are adjustment and phase of life issues, identity development, disordered mood, anxiety, couples therapy, and severe and persistent mental health problems. His approach to treatment is humanistic as well as systemic, with an emphasis on solution-focused interventions when applicable. Mr. Shurson emphasizes the therapist-client relationship, authenticity, compassion and a deep respect for the individual, their experience, and their feelings in his treatment.
Mr. Shurson is a CA native and was born and raised only a few hours away in the central San Joaquin Valley. He enjoys gardening, cooking, playing and watching soccer (die roten!), and spending time with his children and friends.
Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Health Psychology Concentration, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles
B.S., Psychology, Marian University
Dr. Andridge has worked with socio-culturally diverse students from both public and private universities since 2012. Previously, she provided services in a variety of settings, including: community mental health, inpatient mental health, and a medium security prison. Much of her clinical training and experience has been focused in the areas of gender and sexual identity development, including her research on the impact of geographic space on the experiences of transwomen.
Dr. Andridge’s professional interests include social justice, relationship and sexual concerns, wellbeing, intersectionality of identities, substance use concerns, emotional dysregulation, and identity development. Dr. Andridge is a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and was the Coordinator for Gender and Sexuality Inclusivity at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo prior to her role as Assistant Director for Operations and Quality. Dr. Andridge’s interests also lie in advocacy and she is committed to providing competent, affirming, clinical care for all Cal Poly students. As part of her Assistant Director duties, Dr. Andridge is focused on continued development, evaluation, and adjustment to the services that are available at Cal Poly Counseling Services, including continued work with improving services for underrepresented students.
Dr. Andridge identifies as a schema therapist with interpersonal and multicultural emphases. She emphasizes collaboration with clients and values authenticity and building a trusting space to allow for deep exploration of concerns. Dr. Andridge enjoys clinical work that focuses on building insight around the factors that can leave us feeling stuck, examination of families and communities of origin, and the implications of larger societies on the development of our identities. She integrates this depth-oriented work with more practical here-and-now recommendations to improve coping and minimize the impact of symptoms.
In her spare time, Dr. Andridge enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing video games, watching movies, attending concerts, reading, traveling, baking, and gardening. She’s also a huge basketball fan!
COUNSELING SERVICES CLINICIANS
Jennifer Armstrong, Psy.D., Disability Resource Center Liaison
California Licensed Psychologist PSY28554
M.A., Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary
B.A., Psychology, Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Armstrong has worked in university counseling centers for more than 4 years, where she has provided individual and group therapy and outreach to diverse student populations, including transfer and first generation students. She completed her doctoral clinical psychology internship in Virginia at Radford University, Student Counseling Services, and her postdoctoral fellowship at Cal Poly SLO, Counseling Services. As a counselor at Vanguard University, she provided individual therapy in the multicultural Orange County area. In addition to her work with college students, Dr. Armstrong received training providing psychoeducational and psychological assessment with children, adolescents, and young adults in educational and private practice settings. Dr. Armstrong also has training experience in an outpatient community mental health setting with adults who experienced severe and chronic mental health issues.
Dr. Armstrong practices from an integrative approach, grounded in cognitive behavioral and humanistic theoretical perspectives. She also adopts a strengths-based approach and works collaboratively to empower individuals towards their process of change. Dr. Armstrong believes that a non-judgmental, trusting, and authentic therapeutic relationship is an important foundation to help facilitate growth. She strives to understand the unique experiences of each person, and works collaboratively to create and work toward goals that best fit each person's needs. Dr. Armstrong is trained as a generalist who is passionate about working with university students who present with a variety of issues and concerns. Her areas of interest include, but are not limited to, anxiety, academic concerns, procrastination, depression, self-care, stress management and wellness, identity development, and strengthening one's purpose and meaning in life. In her role as Disability Resource Center Liaison, Dr. Armstrong works to ensure effective communication between the department of Counseling Services and the Disability Resource Center.
Dr. Armstrong was raised in Beaverton, Oregon and did all of her post high school education in the Los Angeles area. She enjoys good stories in movies and TV shows as well as reading fantasy and science fiction novels. Her hobbies include strategy board games, karate, and spending time outdoors.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY27807
M.A., Social Psychology, University of Hawaii, Manoa
B.A., Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder
Dr. Aylward has worked in various clinical settings including university counseling centers, outpatient community clinics, an anxiety clinic, and a residential treatment center for eating disorders. Dr. Aylward treats a broad range of mental health concerns while also specializing in anxiety, eating-related concerns, relationship issues, and grief. She has created treatment programs for individuals with eating disorders and adults grieving the death of a loved one. Her research interests include applying evolutionary psychology to clinical topics, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, and general psychology topics, such as mimicry and love.
With regards to therapy, Dr. Aylward works with a variety of emotional, psychological, relational, identity, and other general life concerns. She strives to help those who feel stuck to move towards greater insight and psychological flexibility; to have more meaningful relationships and self-compassion; and to take actions that lead to a more fulfilling life. This sense of being "stuck" can take many forms including, but not limited to, overwhelming feelings of anxiety and/or depression, body image concerns, fears of being judged by others, a sense of meaninglessness, uncertainty about a relationship, conflict about one's identity, or a pattern of difficulty with closeness. For those seeking bereavement counseling, she hopes to help make sense of the grief process and allow a safe space to experience and share the different emotions that arise when grieving.
Dr. Aylward's approach to treatment integrates depth- and insight-oriented approaches with cognitive-behavioral approaches influenced by Buddhist psychology. She believes the therapeutic relationship is the platform for healing, growth and a context for learning about broader patterns of relating. Her goal is to create a safe space for clients to share personal feelings, thoughts, memories, and other vulnerabilities to the extent that they are ready and willing. Dr. Aylward focuses on creating awareness of unconscious processes, many of which results from our early life experiences. With this awareness, it is then possible to make intentional choices that move us in the direction of fulfillment, despite the difficult thoughts and emotions that often urge us to do otherwise. Overall, she feels honored to be a compassionate witness and companion in someone's journey towards more self-love and a meaningful life.
Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
B.A., Psychology, Pacific Lutheran University
Dr. Brandt has been doing clinical counseling work with undergraduate and graduate level university students for the past several years. Most recently, he worked as a Staff Psychologist at Bucknell University, a small, private Liberal Arts institution in Central Pennsylvania. He was a doctoral intern at Student Counseling Services at Texas A&M University, College Station. Prior to that, Dr. Brandt enjoyed working in the university counseling center environment so much that he focused his clinical training for three years as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Tennessee's Counseling Center.
Dr. Brandt approaches counseling work largely from a Humanistic perspective that primarily emphasizes a person's capacity to grow into their fullest self. He also works from a Multicultural and Social Justice-oriented framework that honors how deeply culture and social structures shape one's sense of self and impacts growth. He feels privileged to be a part of each human's growth journey. He enjoys the challenge of helping students in general but has a special passion for working with students with ADHD, student-athletes, and with men and masculinity. Dr. Brandt has also become more curious about the use of Mindfulness practices (particularly Yoga and Meditation) with students and mental health.
Dr. Brandt grew up in Idaho but always dreamed of living somewhere he could surf. He loves his dog and all things active. Fun fact--he speaks fluent German.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY26021
Psy.D. & M.S., Clinical Psychology, Nova Southeastern University
B.S., Psychology, University of Central Florida
Dr. Cabezas has worked with culturally and socioeconomically diverse adult populations with a variety of mental health presentations in community care. During her pre-doctoral training, she provided testing services that included the administration, interpretation, and integration of psychological measures. There, Dr. Cabezas worked with clients presenting with learning disorders, developmental disorders, and cognitive disorders affecting their social, interpersonal, and emotional functioning.
During her internship and post-doctoral residency, Dr. Cabezas worked for the State Center Community College District at Fresno City College and Reedley College. There, Dr. Cabezas provided individual therapy, outreach services, presentations, and taught two courses. She enjoyed working with disadvantaged and underserved student populations. Dr. Cabezas served as the liaison for recent immigrant and international students providing services in Spanish. Additionally, she acted as the faculty advisor to Fresno City College’s Active Minds Chapter.
Dr. Cabezas’ professional interests include social justice, multiculturalism, intersecting identities, identity and transitional concerns, trauma recovery and resiliency, and interpersonal and relational concerns. She particularly enjoys working with disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and underrepresented students. She began working at Cal Poly Counseling Services in 2013 and served as the First Generation Students Coordinator between 2014 -- 2018. Dr. Cabezas recently expanded her role to Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion Coordinator, which includes developing and strengthening relationships with other campus partners in order to best serve the students' needs.
Dr. Cabezas believes in an integrated approach to therapy, which is designed to fit the client's needs. She conceptualizes through an Existential lens and incorporates interventions from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Choice Theory, and Solution-Focused Therapy. As a psychologist, Dr. Cabezas values change as a conscious and deliberate process that emphasizes the expression of the authentic self, capitalizes on individual strengths, and broadens one's abilities needed to thrive. Additionally, Dr. Cabezas is fluent in Spanish and can provide services in this language.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY28616
California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist MFC53460
M.A., Counseling, Sonoma State University
B.A., Human Biology, Stanford University
Mr. Chalfin received his Master's degree in Counseling at Sonoma State University, where he completed his traineeship at the campus-based community counseling center, providing no-cost individual and couples therapy for students and community clients. Mr. Chalfin went on to work for community mental health clinics in Sonoma County as a post-Master's Intern, prior to licensure as an MFT. Following his relocation to Southern California, Mr. Chalfin worked as a child and family therapist for a non-profit organization in South Los Angeles, providing in-home and clinic-based individual, family and group trauma-focused therapy. Mr. Chalfin went on to work in Bronx, NY as a social worker and social worker supervisor at a non-profit child welfare organization, providing in-home trauma-informed therapeutic and casework services.
Mr. Chalfin's integrative approach to therapy draws on elements of humanistic, existential, cognitive-behavioral and solution-focused theoretical orientations. Mr. Chalfin values the client-therapist partnership as a primary factor in facilitating positive change and approaches each client with the flexibility to adapt treatment approaches to meet the needs of each individual. Mr. Chalfin is inspired by the unique familial, cultural, social and environmental histories that shape each individual's subjective experience. He is continuously humbled by the opportunity to witness the self-exploration, identity development and positive change that occurs in the therapeutic process.
Mr. Chalfin has specific post-licensure training and clinical experience working with issues related to trauma, grief, substance use, familial and intimate partner abuse, community violence, sexual assault, criminal justice involvement, parenting and child development.
Mr. Chalfin is passionate about issues related to social and environmental justice. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, exploring the Central Coast, hiking, traveling, woodworking, reading detective novels, and following a variety of professional sports.
Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago
M.A., Forensic Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago
B.A., Psychology, Michigan State University
Dr. Cole has worked in a variety of settings with culturally and socioeconomically diverse individuals. She obtained her master's degree in forensic psychology and completed her master's internship at a forensic hospital working with those presenting with severe mental illness. During her pre-doctoral training, she worked at a private practice performing neuropsychological assessments, in a substance abuse treatment facility, and in a college counseling center. Dr. Cole found her love for working with college students, which has deepened since she went on to complete her internship and post-doctoral residency at Florida State University Counseling Center.
Dr. Cole practices from a psychodynamic approach, integrating other models as needed to fit the particular needs of the student. Dr. Cole values learning about students' defining experiences, prominent relationships throughout the lifespan, and sociocultural influences to help students gain insight into conflicts, anxieties, or feelings of being stuck. She believes in providing a therapeutic relationship where the student feels unconditionally supported, understood, and free of inhibition. This helps foster an environment for change to occur and move students toward their goals. Dr. Cole enjoys working with a variety of presenting concerns including, but not limited to, anxiety/depressive symptoms, identity concerns, family of origin issues, relationship issues, and first generation college students. In addition to individual therapy, she is passionate about providing group therapy. Dr. Cole received specialized training in group therapy and group psychology at FSU. She currently serves on APA Division 49, Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy, ECP Task Force and is a member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association. She has also completed specialty training in Behavioral Health Consultation and psychological assessment.
Dr. Cole is originally from the Midwest, but is enjoying her time away from the snow. In her free time, she enjoys teaching her dog Frodo tricks, biking, movies and documentaries, traveling, exploring new cuisines, and soaking up the sun.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY29932
Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Rosemead School of Psychology
M.A., Clinical Psychology, Rosemead School of Psychology
B.S., Psychology, California State University, Sacramento
Dr. Colwell's passion for working with college students started early in her training, which included work in community mental health. Che completed her pre-doctoral internship at Wright State University and her postdoctoral fellowship at Hamilton College, where she also served as Outreach Coordinator. Part of Dr. Colwell's decision to invest in the wellness of college students comes from the fervent belief that you are the people that have the potential to build a better tomorrow for all of us. Plus, you all are just awesome.
Part of her drive in developing and coordinating outreach programming comes from the belief that outreach provides the opportunity to help students foster insight about themselves and about the diverse, complex world of experiences around them, without the requirement of them stepping into a therapist's office. It also tends to reduce stigma about seeking help when it is needed, it creates a bridge between mental health providers and students who are experiencing marginalization and may have concerns about walking through our doors, and it reinforces the message that the student is valuable, just as they are. Spoiler alert: Dr. Colwell's consistent message when conducting outreach is that your wellbeing is more important than whatever academic stress or requirement you have in front of you. There are people who want and will help you when you need and are ready for a change.
As an intersectional feminist psychologist, Dr. Colwell takes a connected and collaborative approach to therapy. When you are in the room with her, your experiences, knowledge, and values are of utmost importance and she sees herself as a resource to help you build a life full of meaning, even when things are hard. She has been trained in dynamic therapeutic work (i.e., Psychodynamic Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy), as well as solution-focused therapeutic work (i.e., Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy). Dr. Colwell collaborates with the student to find what works beneficially for them.
Dr. Colwell describes herself as "delightfully quirky," and hopes to encourage self-acceptance with growth in those around her. One of her favorite quotes is by e.e. cummings, which says, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." If you are interested in moving toward authenticity and living a bravely sincere life, she may just be the counselor for you. Dr. Colwell particularly likes working with folks who are anxious or having depressive symptoms, those who are dealing with issues around their identity, those who are experiencing spiritual conflicts, and those who have experienced some form of sexual trauma. However, all are welcome.
Courtney de Blieck, Psy.D., Continuing Education Specialist & Trauma Treatment Coordinator
California Licensed Psychologist PSY23908
Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Gender Studies Emphasis Area, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University
M.A., Clinical Psychology, Gender Studies Emphasis Area, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University
B.A., Psychology, Women’s Studies, & History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Dr. de Blieck has worked as a psychologist in college counseling centers for more than 10 years. She completed an internship in clinical psychology at the State University of New York, Buffalo Counseling Services, and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Merced Counseling & Psychological Services. Prior to coming to Cal Poly, Dr. de Blieck served as the Assistant Director, Outreach Coordinator, and Interim Director of Training at UC Merced Counseling & Psychological Services.
Dr. de Blieck currently serves as the trauma treatment coordinator at Counseling Services, and is certified by the International Association of Trauma Professionals as a Level II Clinical Trauma Professional (C-PTSD). She has specialized training in treating survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence and abuse, and prior to graduate school, worked for 3 years as a certified rape crisis/domestic violence counselor. In addition, Dr. de Blieck has training in working with the following student concerns: obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and crisis intervention. She also enjoys working with women's issues, LGBT issues, students with disabilities, and first-generation college students.
Dr. de Blieck approaches treatment from a combined cognitive-behavioral, client-centered, and feminist treatment approach. Her interest and training in social justice allows her to adopt a context-specific, strength-based approach with clients. She believes that the larger social environment is especially relevant to the struggles that students face, and encourages clients to build on their existing skills in order to meet these challenges.
Dr. de Blieck encourages all students to engage in self-care, and for fun enjoys knitting, bike riding, and frequenting the local dog park with her basset hound.
Shawna Dobson, M.A., Alcohol and Other Drugs Coordinator
California Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor LPCC2651
B.A., Communications & Psychology, University of Connecticut
Ms. Dobson has spent the past ten years working in a variety of settings including community-based organizations, treatment centers and school-based counseling centers. Ms. Dobson's first internship experience was in a college counseling center while earning her Master's degree, since then, she has felt a pull to return to working with college students.
Throughout her career, Ms. Dobson has found her passion working with young adults and teens from diverse backgrounds. She has a deep regard for how systems impact students, both academically and personally. Having spent many years in treatment facilities, Ms. Dobson has gained specialized experienced with substance abuse disorders and co-occurring disorders. Ms. Dobson values the counseling relationship first and foremost and strives to create a safe, accepting and non-judgmental counseling space. Using holistic, strength-based and client-centered approaches she works collaboratively with students to help create positive change. Ms. Dobson tailors her counseling to the individual needs of her students and also incorporates skill building, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and solution-focused treatment, to assist students in their personal growth and goal achievement.
Ms. Dobson was born and raised in Connecticut, where she completed her education. She was pulled West by the "California dream," and has not been disappointed. Ms. Dobson and her husband have lived all over California, and she still marvels in all the beauty she finds in new corners of the state. In her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband and dog, she also enjoys yoga, running, biking and camping, and being in nature.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY27211
M.S., Clinical Psychology, Pacific University
B.A., Psychology, Seattle University
Dr. Gillis has trained in a variety of settings, including community mental health, intensive outpatient substance abuse, a center that primarily treated individuals identifying as LGBTQQIA and/or people living with HIV/AIDS, and university counseling centers. Dr. Gillis has a demonstrated commitment to serving university students of diverse backgrounds and identities, with experience at Roger Williams University, University of Rhode Island, Evergreen State College, Arizona State University, and University of California Santa Barbara.
Dr. Gillis' areas of interest and specialties include gender identity and sexual identity, disordered eating behaviors and body image, substance abuse, developmental challenges of college students, identity development, interpersonal and relationship struggles, anxiety, depression, and supervision and training. She feels particularly passionate about multiculturalism and social justice. Additionally, Dr. Gillis possesses a strong commitment to supporting international students as well as underrepresented students. Dr. Gillis is committed to supporting the personal and academic success as well as health and well-being of first generation college students. Dr. Gillis also enjoys supporting student athletes in learning ways to effectively address anything that may be preventing them from focusing and performing optimally in their sport as well as assisting student athletes in developing ways to manage the high levels of stress they may experience from attempting to balance the demands and pressure of both academics and athletics.
Dr. Gillis combines an active, supportive, strength-based approach with a sense of humor and a deep belief that people have the ability to change or impact their thoughts and behaviors. She values building a safe, accepting, respectful environment for students to be heard, seen, and empowered. Though trained in Interpersonal, Gestalt, Solution-Focused, Existential, Mindfulness-based, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) theoretical modalities, Dr. Gillis tailors her work to individuals' unique goals and needs.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY28854
M.A., Psychology, Phillips Graduate Institute
B.A., Psychology, California State University, Northridge
Dr. Menendez has worked in a variety of community mental health settings and an impatient facility providing individual, group and assessment services primarily to low-income individuals from diverse backgrounds. She has been working with college populations for 3 years.
In general, Dr. Menendez’s approach to therapy is integrative with client-centered, emotion-focused and psychodynamic emphases. She considers the individual needs of clients and encourages a collaborative approach to identify a direction to meet those needs. She strives to help clients facilitate the development of a healthy relationship with themselves and their identity, as well as with significant others. She hopes to provide a safe space to foster awareness, self-compassion, psychological flexibility and a sense of empowerment to create change. Some of her clinical interests include treating individuals who struggle with interpersonal relationships, social anxiety, depression, trauma, low self-esteem, life transitions and those who are first generation in college. She also enjoys working with highly sensitive people (HSP) as defined by Dr. Elaine Aron (http://hsperson.com/).
Dr. Menendez values diversity and the multiple roles that individuals must navigate in their academic, social, and family life, and she often encourages the exploration and understanding of these areas in therapy. Dr. Menendez was born and raised in El Salvador and is able to provide therapy services in Spanish.
During her time off, Dr. Menendez enjoys spending time with loved ones, watching movies and documentaries, cooking and trying new foods, spending time outdoors and experimenting with still-life photography.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY23846
Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, The Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA
M.A., Clinical Psychology, The Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA
B.A., Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Plate has worked in a therapeutic residential milieu, at a community mental health clinic, and provided in-home family therapy. She spent several years working at the Department of Psychiatry at Kaiser, Redwood City, where she provided individual and group interventions in the general outpatient clinic, coordinated a psychological assessment service, provided consultation services to the medical staff, and worked in the crisis stabilization program. Dr. Plate was born and raised on the Central Coast and is thrilled to have returned home to join the Cal Poly community.
Dr. Plate initially studied biology and environmental science at the University of California, Santa Cruz, but graduated with a degree in psychology. A foundation in science, along with a curiosity for the spectrum of human experience, led her to this fascinating and enriching career path. Mental health can be influenced by a number of factors including biological, social, medical, cultural, and environmental. Dr. Plate is passionate about understanding the context in which our challenges occur. She never ceases to be amazed by the resilience and strength that she witnesses in her clients. She completed her graduate education at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA, which provided ample opportunities for diverse training experiences. While Dr. Plate was educated in psychodynamic theory and resonates with existential and humanistic approaches to treatment, she is also well versed in brief, evidence-based interventions that can provide immediate tools for symptom relief.
Dr. Plate enjoys helping her clients achieve their goals, reduce stress, gain perspective, and find balance in life. It is her belief that treatment is most effective when a collaborative therapeutic relationship is build based on mutual respect and honesty. She considers it a great honor to accompany a client on their journey of change. In her free moments, Dr. Plate likes spending time in the great outdoors hiking, snowboarding, surfing, and soaking up all the sunshine and beauty this area has to offer. She is a voracious reader of fiction, loves attending live music, and treasures her relationships with family and friends.
California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist LMFT53092
B.A., Psychology, University of California, Davis
As an undergraduate student at UC Davis, Mrs. Ramirez was both a peer educator for the Women's Center and Campus Violence Prevention Program, educating students about body image and the media and interpersonal violence. As a graduate student at Antioch University, Santa Barbara and as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, Mrs. Ramirez worked for community agencies in Santa Barbara County and provided psychotherapy to a variety of ages and cultural backgrounds, including Junior High and High School groups, and individual and family therapy with children and adults. Mrs. Ramirez was also involved with juvenile probation, and provided therapy to adolescents in the juvenile justice system.
Mrs. Ramirez previously worked in Psychological Counseling Services at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, where she provided therapy to students of various cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Mrs. Ramirez is interested in the area of identity formation, especially how the media influences our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and our body image. Mrs. Ramirez works from a client-centered perspective by providing students a welcoming space to discuss their concerns and help them determine how best to meet their needs, as well as incorporating aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to explore the relationships between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Mrs. Ramirez is originally from Sonoma County, California and enjoys exploring the beauty of the Central Coast through cycling and hiking.
Psy.D., Alliant International University, California School of Forensic Studies
M.A., Forensic Psychology, Alliant International University, California School of Forensic Studies
M.S., Forensic Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
B.A., Psychology, Temple University
Dr. Robbins is a psychologist with over seven years of postdoctoral experience conducting psychotherapy and assessment with adolescents and adults. She has added specialization in psycho-legal/forensic consultations and assessment, and clinical/diagnostic psychological assessment. Her testimony history includes addressing legal questions pertinent to dual diagnosis, substance abuse, mental disability, psycho-diagnostic issues, cognitive/intellectual ability, malingering/feigning, personality testing, psychological/emotional functioning, and various criminal and civil forensic evaluations (e.g., competency). Further, Dr. Robbins has provided crisis intervention and response in the form of training to multidisciplinary staff members, therapeutic work and debriefing, policy development, and evaluation.
Dr. Robbins specializes in treating anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, and co-occurring substance use disorders. Although trained as a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist, in general, Dr. Robbins' approach to therapy is integrative with client-centered and solution-focused emphases. The individual needs of the clients are considered and a collaborative effort ensues to determine how best to identify and meet those needs. Some of her clinical interests include treating individuals who struggle with low self-esteem, depression, trauma, substance use disorders, and history of legal involvement.
Dr. Robbins was born and raised in New York and Pennsylvania, but is enjoying her (almost) twelfth year as a Cali transplant. She has lived in numerous places in the "Golden State," but has found peace and beauty along the central coast, where she is happy to call home. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her partner and six pets: a gorgeous creature who is a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Pit mix and five amazing cats who test her patience daily. She also enjoys eating, practicing healthy living, which includes exercise and meditation, watching movies, listening along to audible, and being sarcastic.
California Licensed Psychologist PSY30791
M.A., Counseling, Ball State University
B.A., Psychology, University of Redlands
Dr. Sneed has a passion for serving college students and has worked at several university counseling centers. After working for several years with a Masters in Counseling, Dr. Sneed returned to graduate school in order to further her training in college health and to conduct research on embodied interventions. She views college health as her foremost specialization with sub-specialties in mind/body interventions and trauma recovery. Dr. Sneed's practice is unique in that she employs a variety of creative interventions including embodiment work (e.g., yoga, movement, and breathing), art, and many other active and experiential interventions. Her embodiment work comes primarily from her training in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and she is certified as a yoga therapy practitioner by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She is comfortable seeing clients for traditional psychotherapy and/or yoga therapy.
Dr. Sneed has a passion for social justice and seeks to understand clients from an intersectional perspective that takes into account all of their identities and experiences. She also pursues social justice work on a broader scale through campus outreach and engagement. Dr. Sneed is comfortable discussing identity politics and strives to be an advocate and ally who can tolerate criticism and who understands the need to continue to learn and grow.
The backbone of Dr. Sneed's psychotherapy practice is person-centered psychotherapy. She views her role in the therapy room as creating a safe space in which a client can freely explore, without judgment, so that they can unlock their own inner knowledge and awareness to promote growth and healing. Within that safe space, Dr. Sneed offers a warm, compassionate presence. She helps guide clients into being able to both know and tolerate their own internal experience in order to create changes, improve their relationship with themselves, and create meaningful relationships with others.
In her personal time, Dr. Sneed enjoys a variety of craft projects, hiking, and playing board/party games. She also loves to read, travel, and spend time with family and friends.
Becky Sznejkowski, Psy.D., Suicide Prevention Coordinator
California Licensed Psychologist PSY21776
M.A., Clinical Psychology, Illinois School of Professional Psychology
B.A., Psychology, Missouri Western University
Dr. Sznejkowski has trained in a variety of settings, including community mental health, the department of corrections in both Illinois and California, Atascadero State Hospital, private practice and a university counseling center. Dr. Sznejkowski primarily works with adults providing group and individual therapy. Her experience has primarily been with underserved populations.
Dr. Sznejkowski's work in corrections allowed her experience with a wide range of diagnoses from mood disorders, psychotic disorders, to life transition issues. Her areas of interest and specialties include anxiety, depression, grief, anger, chronic illness, life transition, stress management, and she has a certificate in whole food, plant-based nutrition.
Dr. Sznejkowski is still learning how to spell her last name. She combines an active, supportive, holistic approach with a sense of humor and focuses on the impact of nutrition and lifestyle on mental wellbeing. Though trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing theoretical modalities, Dr. Sznejkowski tailors her work to individuals' unique goals, strengths, and needs.
Dr. Sznejkowski is from the Midwest but has adopted California as her residence. She enjoys the beach, cooking and eating vegan, fitness, and spending time with her husband, pug and friends.