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Michelle ContrerasPaola Michelle Contreras, PsyD

Program Director, Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling Psychology in Global Mental Health 

Master of Arts (MA) in Forensic and Counseling Psychology Faculty
Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling Psychology in Global Mental Health Faculty

Paola Michelle Contreras, PsyD, is a core faculty member in the MA Counseling Psychology Department and Director of the MA in Counseling Psychology in Global Mental Health. Dr. Contreras earned her PsyD in Clinical Psychology from William James College. Dr. Contreras also holds a Psychology Licentiate Degree from Universidad Rafael Landívar conferred in Guatemala City. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School's Program for Psychotherapy, a fellowship with concentration in psychodynamic psychotherapy and research. Her first internship was at the Stone Center Counseling Service at Wellesley College. She completed an APA internship at the Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School's Adult Acute Services Track. For her doctoral research she conducted an international participatory action research study in human trafficking in Latin America. She has authored/co-authored several papers on trafficking-related themes and imparted conferences and trainings on human trafficking both nationally and internationally. Dr. Contreras was formerly a member of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Presidential Task Force on the Trafficking of Women and Girls that published its report in 2014 (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association). She also chaired the APA's Division 35 Task Force on the Feminist Perspectives on the Trafficking of Women. During her term she co-produced a human trafficking film, "The Psychology of Modern Day Slavery", and discussion guide available to the general public as a raising awareness tool. She is currently Chair of the APA's Division 35 Special Committee on Violence against Women. Her scholarship on issues that affect women and girls has been widely recognized. Most recently, the Committee on Women in Psychology of the American Psychological Association recognized Dr. Contreras with the Emerging Leader for Women in Psychology Award. 

Previous to her doctoral training, Dr. Contreras worked as a clinician and coordinator of SAMHSA and HRSA funded mental health services for Latinos living with HIV/AIDS. She coordinated the Trauma Center at JRI's Project Reach program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, which offers trauma-focused mental health evaluation services to domestic and international victims of human trafficking, and nationwide consultation to providers of multiple disciplines working with trafficking victims. She continues to provide consultation services to Project Reach. She completed a Certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies at the Trauma Center at JRI where she conducted child sexual abuse evaluations. Her teaching interests include the psychological effects of trauma with special interest in the effects of psychological coercion; human trafficking; Latino mental health; psychodynamic psychotherapy; women's studies; participatory action research methods; liberation psychologies; cross-cultural, cross-national, and cross-disciplinary collaborations; and diversity. Dr. Contreras is also visiting faculty at Universidad Del Valle de Guatemala and a candidate of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society & Institute.

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