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Faculty Research


The Language, Culture, and Gender Lab

Carrie Castañeda-Sound, PhD

Overview and Mission

The Language, Culture, and Gender Lab conducts four tracks of research in the broad areas of language and culture within the field of psychology. The lab is inspired by Chicana Feminism and Martín-Baró's work on Liberation Psychology in its approach to understanding and empowering diverse communities within a cultural context. The first track of research examines the supervision and training of psychotherapists to provide bilingual (Spanish/English) mental health services and community outreach. A focus is on the interaction of linguistic, clinical, and cultural competency. The second track of research examines the process and outcomes of culturally congruent practice within bilingual and Spanish-speaking communities. Areas of emphasis are the use of language in therapy and psycho-educational outreach. The third track of research explores individual and family processes as they relate to language use within a community setting. Areas of attention are the gendered experiences of immigration, and acculturation processes of immigrant children as they relate to language and ethnic identity development. Finally, the fourth track of research examines the factors that lead to persistence of Latino college students in undergraduate and graduate education. Specific contributing factors under investigation are ethnic identity, immigration experiences, and institutional best practices.

Research Presentations

Castañeda-Sound, C.L. (Chair), Harrell, S.P., Adams, T., Castañeda-Sound, C.L., & Navarro, E.L. (August 2013). A Call to Action-Strength-based and Spiritual Approaches in Diverse Urban Communities. Clinical Practice in the Borderlands: Religious and Spiritual Applications with Latinas. Symposium presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HI.

Hurtado, A. (Chair). Castañeda-Sound, C.L., Ward, E.C., Jernigan, M., Tadrous, S., Blackburn, M., Lowe, S.M., & Willis, D.J. (August 2013). Advocacy and Empowerment for Diverse Women and Children. Waking us from our Slumber: The Interaction of Immigration, Education, and Latina Feminist Theory. Symposium presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HI.

Castañeda-Sound, C. (2013). A Chicana Feminist Approach to Psychotherapy with Latinas: Una Mezcla de Realidades. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Women in Psychology. Salt Lake City, UT.

Soleiman, R., Castañeda-Sound, C., Adams, T., Mazcka, K., Orue, G., Chiu, K., & Preciado, S. (2013). Training Experiences of Bilingual Therapists. Poster presented at the annual conference of the Association for Women in Psychology. Salt Lake City, UT.

Khoshnoud, P., Nili, P., & Castañeda-Sound, C.L. (2013). Experiences of Language Brokering Among Iranian Women. Poster presented at the annual conference of the Association for Women in Psychology. Salt Lake City, UT.

Castañeda-Sound, C.L., Soleiman, R. Khoshnoud, P., Nili, P., Ochoa, A. (October 2012). Un Espacio de Aprendizaje: Development of a Qualitative Research Lab. Roundtable presented at the biennial convention of the National Latina/o Psychological Association, New Brunswick, NJ.

Current Projects (Qualitative)

  • Linguistic and Multicultural Training Experiences of Bilingual Graduate Students
  • Experiences of Language Brokering Among Mexican Heritage Men and Women.

Current Projects (Mixed Method)

  • Program Evaluation- LaTeena Power
  • Program Evaluation- Aliento: The Center for Latinx Communities

For more information, please send an email to LanguageCultureLab@pepperdine.edu or visit the web site.

Iluminar, Community Action and Research Lab: Illuminating Lives through Multicultural Research and Discovery

Miguel E. Gallardo, Psy.D.

Overview and Objectives

Iluminar is the Spanish word that means to illuminate. It is our hope that the research projects and issues we choose to engage in with communities, provide more insights and "give light to" areas within psychology that need to be better understood in order to provide more just and equitable outcomes for underserved and unserved multicultural communities. Iluminar is grounded in a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) theoretical framework of understanding. CBPR is conducted as an equal partnership between traditionally trained "experts" and members of a community. Iluminar utilizes a community action research approach to collaboratively develop more methods for creating knowledge. In our CBPR projects, the community participates fully in all aspects of the research process. Our projects start with the community. Community is often self-defined, but general categories of community include geographic community, community of individuals with a common problem or issue, or a community of individuals with a common interest or goal. Equitable partnerships require sharing power, resources, credit, results, and knowledge, as well as a reciprocal appreciation of each partner's knowledge and skills at each stage of the project. The stages include defining a problem or challenge, selecting appropriate research design, conducting research, interpreting results, and determining how the results should be used for action. Community action research integrates projects into a larger community of practitioners, consultants, researchers, and community members. Iluminar is focused on producing practical knowledge that is useful to people in tangible and practical ways that they can utilize in their everyday lives.

Current Projects

Latina/o Therapists' Experiences on Working with Mexican/Mexican American Communities: A Qualitative Investigation

This study is focused on two main objectives. The first objective is to understand the therapeutic work of Mexican and Latina/o therapists who are currently providing services to Mexican/Mexican American community members. Secondly, we hope that this understanding will elucidate some common therapeutic themes that may provide insight for various mental health professionals delivering services to the Mexican/Mexican American community. Forty-one therapists were interviewed to understand the psychotherapeutic process when working with Mexican/Mexican American communities.

LaTEENa Empowerment

In partnership with Casa de la Familia (please visit: http://www.casadelafamilia.org/ for more information), we are currently working on conducting a mixed-methodology research study. This study is intended to assess the effectiveness of a Latina adolescent empowerment program aimed to enhance the self-esteem of Latina adolescents, as well as increase education retention rates and academic achievement. We are evaluating the effectiveness of the program, while examining the effects of the program on building self-efficacy and empowerment of Latina adolescents.

Multiethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies (MECCA)

The Multiethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies is a network of seven community-based social service and healthcare providers including: Abrazar, ACCESS California Services, California Latino Psychological Association, Korean Community Services, OMID Multicultural Institute for Development, Orange County Children's Therapeutic Center, and the Vietnamese Community of Orange County. Iluminar and Aliento: The Center for Latinx Communities have partnered with MECCA to conduct both program evaluations of two community-based programs through community-based participatory research. For more information about MECCA, please visit: http://ocmecca.org/

Early Intervention Services for Older Adults (EISOA): Program Evaluation

The EISOA Program provides isolated adults, age 60 and older, with the opportunity to reintegrate into the community by incorporating healthy activities into their daily lifestyle and improving their quality of life. Participants are assigned to activities that are custom-tailored to best suit their specific needs and interests. The EISOA Program has trained, culturally and linguistically competent professionals including licensed social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, researchers, and translators who provide a wide range of services to older adults above the age of 60.

Program Goals:

  • Identify older adults (age 60 and older) who are:

  • Experiencing early onset of a behavioral health condition or;
  • Those who are at risk of a behavioral health condition due to being isolated or;
  • Those who are unserved/underserved who have not sought out services due to the stigma associated with behavioral health conditions, and/or cultural/linguistic barriers
  • Prevent the onset of behavioral health conditions through providing outreach, social support, and treatment to older adults as identified above
  • Creating and fostering healthy and integrated lifestyles; promoting healthy and active aging
  • Improve levels of socialization and functioning, mental health status, and quality of life

Religious Leaders Behavioral Health Training Services Program (RLBHTS): Program Evaluation

The Religious Leaders Behavioral Health Training Services Program strives to develop a culturally competent curriculum that increases the sensitivity of Religious Leaders to recognize signs & symptoms of behavioral health impairments and/or crisis situations. This program's goal is to increase the responsivity of Religious Leaders to address and respond appropriately to these behavioral health impairments and/or crisis situations within their communities.

Program Goals:

  • Reducing the stigma of mental illness and reaching for help.
  • Recognizing the signs and risk factors associated with moderate to severe conditions.
  • Recognizing the signs and risk factors associated with crisis management.
  • Learning how to respond in each situation to ensure safety and make the appropriate referrals.

Multi-Ethnic Arts and Family Festival Stigma Reduction Arts Events: Program Evaluation

Ethnic-specific art instructors and mental health advocates will lead month-long expressive art workshops at each MECCA agency, in an effort to uniquely target each ethnic community. Consumers and family members will be trained in art expression by an art instructor at each agency. After one month of instruction, the agency will select a day to exhibit the work of the participants and showcase drawings and art pieces done by consumers and family members. Each ethnic-specific art event will be opened to the public to educate the community and challenge the general public's perception of mental illness through the use of art, in order to decrease stigma towards consumers and people from other ethnic/cultural backgrounds.

The arts are a creative and powerful way to reduce mental health stigma. For example, bringing artwork or artistic performances to wider audiences gives the general public the opportunity to view mental health issues from the consumer's perspective, and further enables the public to learn about illnesses and treatments. Community education and dialogue often counteracts stereotypes perpetuated by the media and entertainment industries by reducing discrimination and negative attitudes associated with mental illness.

Program Goals:

  • To creatively address these issues through the use of artistic exhibits by bringing people together.
  • To assess how the expression of art will positively impact consumers of mental health services.
  • To better understand how the use of art can potentially decrease the stigma attached to mental illness.