Leveraging Collective Strengths to Overcome Adversity

Posted Tue, 09/10/2019 - 09:24

Counseling Psychology student Sam Arrollo-Medellin and Dr. Daniela Domínguez traveled to Huejotal, Huaquechula to advance their understanding of the cultural, environmental, and economic stressors specific to Mexican families impacted by forced migration. They witnessed how children of migrants reported psychological effects following the departure of their parent(s) to the United States. Having to simultaneously deal with the sadness and loneliness associated with forced migration, children often struggled academically, leading to risks of poor cognitive, emotional, and behavioral outcomes. Thus, Sam and Dr. Domínguez, in solidarity with Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga and a team of students, designed art and athletic activities in which children could explore how they used their collective strengths and coping strategies to weather troubled times and environmental adversity. 

The objective of these activities were to help children to view environmental adversity as a systemic challenge that could be addressed collaboratively by the community system. These activities created opportunities for Sam and Dr. Domínguez to learn about the strengths of the Mexican community, cultural traditions, cultural wealth, and resiliency. To document their experiences, Sam and Dr. Domínguez used written testimonios as a qualitative methodology to document their immersion experiences and their perceptions of the oppressive forces experienced by the children they served in Huejotal. 


Placing ourselves at the service of vulnerable communities, our work promotes community solidarity, resists the violation of human rights, and confronts hegemonic and oppressive forces. In the process of sharing our hearts with others, we advance our critical consciousness, improve our self-awareness, and become more compassionate clinicians. We simply love what we do."

Daniela Domínguez, PsyDAssistant Professor, Marriage & Family Therapy

I take advantage of the community engagement and service learning opportunities available at the University of San Francisco's Marriage and Family Therapy Program, to develop cultural and compassionate clinical skills that benefit vulnerable communities."

Sam Arrollo-Medellin '20, MA
Counseling Psychology: Marriage & Family Therapy