How Clínica Latina Makes a Difference in Latino Mental Health Care

November 21, 2021
There has always been a great need for mental health support in our Latino communities. Unfortunately, socioeconomic barriers such as low income, access to transportation or internet for appointments, language challenges, and concerns over immigration status prevent some patients from accessing quality mental health care. 
Latino people represent approximately 24 percent of the Bay Area population. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), 34% of Latino adults with mental illness receive treatment compared to the U.S. average of 45%. 
Palo Alto University is working to change that disparity—and bilingual clínical psychology PhD and PsyD students are key in the progress.
PAU’s Clínica Latina is one of few training clinics in the country that is led by Spanish-speaking faculty. Through Clínica Latina at The Gronowski Center, students have a unique opportunity to provide mental health care in Spanish and English to members of the local Latino community. 
In most clinics, graduate students must translate for their faculty to receive feedback. At PAU, faculty supervisors clearly understand, and are familiar with, the patients’ experiences and culture to provide real-time, relevant, supportive feedback. 
Bilingual mentorship affords our trainees an unmatched opportunity to develop essential psychology skills such as flexibility and awareness while using English and Spanish. These sought-after skills will make our students highly competitive for BAPIC placement to advance practicums and internships. 
Clínica Latina serves a diverse clientele on a sliding fee scale. Here, students work with patients who have varying levels of acculturation and a range of mental health conditions, from stress and anxiety to severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 
The Latino children, teens, and adults served through Clínica Latina present with a range of challenges that compound mental health problems, including:
  • Anxiety around navigating the school system
  • Fear of deportation
  • Financial concerns
  • Need for advocacy when only a family’s children speak English
  • Social re-entry anxiety due to the pandemic
  • Work- or family-related stress
Many patients speak some English but prefer to hold their therapy sessions in their more comfortable native language. In psychology, as in many areas of health care, Spanish-speaking patients desire a therapist who truly understands them, is sensitive to their cultural needs, and can communicate with them on a personal level. 
PhD and PsyD students may choose to train at Clínica Latina, the Sexual and Gender Identities Clinic through a special application process, or may train in PAU’s general clinic at The Gronowski Center. Learn more about training at Clínical Latina.