Carlotta Willis, EdD, CMHC Program Director, spent three and a half weeks in Guatemala recently as part of her spring sabbatical. She was an observer and presenter for the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala in their three-year-old Master’s level counseling program. This new program was developed by Maria del Pilar Grazioso de Rodriguez to improve and advance the training of therapists and to develop the profession of counseling in Guatemala.
Since there are not yet doctoral level faculty in counseling at the university, the courses have been taught by Spanish speaking psychologists and counselor educators from the United States and Puerto Rico. Dr. Willis participated in the intensive course on Mental Health Counseling, providing feedback on the program and insight regarding experiential counselor training. Along with Wendy Elliot, AP adjunct faculty member, Dr. Willis also presented a day long workshop for alumni on using a narrative frame for expressive arts in counseling which incorporated techniques of art and dance therapy. “They absorbed the material quickly,” she said, “and were very receptive to the Antioch experiential learning approach.” They were invited to return to present to a group of psychologists in a conference this summer. They are hoping to present to a peer supervision group in Xela (Quetzaltenango) in the Highlands, where Dr. Willis also spent time improving her Spanish language skills at a language school focused on social justice.
Dr. Willis plans to continue her support for the Guatemala program and the developing counseling profession. “If you understand the history of Guatemala,” she explained, “you will realize that the country is still rebuilding the professions. Many intellectuals left the country in fear for their lives or were killed during the civil war. I believe it is important for those of us from the United States to offer support whenever we can.”