PAU Distinguished Professor Ricardo F. Muñoz Receives “2018 Outstanding Mentor Award” in Washington D.C. Ceremony

November 15, 2018


PAU Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychology Ricardo F. Muñoz was honored by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) with the “2018 Outstanding Mentor Award” today during a ceremony in Washington D.C.  ABCT is the leading society for cognitive behavioral therapy research and practice in America and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016.

“Dr. Muñoz stood out among an excellent field of nominees due to his exceptional dedication to providing direction to a diverse group of mentees, caring about both career success and overall well-being, and considering mentorship a lifetime commitment," said Cassidy Gutner, Ph.D., Chair, ABCT Awards & Recognition Committee. "We are very pleased to recognize Dr. Muñoz for all the wonderful work he has done to move the field of behavioral and cognitive therapies forward, especially the outstanding mentorship he has provided to the next generation of psychologists throughout his 40-year career.”

PAU President Maureen O’Connor, Ph.D., J.D., commended Dr. Muñoz: “The PAU community is extremely proud of Dr. Muñoz. As a mentor, he has inspired and supported the personal and career development of many of our psychology doctoral students.”

Dr. Muñoz has been a PAU faculty member since 2012. He was nominated for the award by his trainees at the University of California at San Francisco, where he was a professor and mentor for 35 years. Two of those trainees are now PAU faculty, Alinne Barrera Ph.D., and Yan Leykin, Ph.D.

Stephen Schueller, assistant professor in the department of Psychological Science at UCSF submitted the nomination to ABCT.  “I have been lucky to work with true luminaries in the field of psychology. I cannot think of a more deserving person for the Outstanding Mentor Award than Dr. Muñoz. He is truly unique in his commitment to his mentees. One of the highlights of my week at UCSF was my weekly one-on-one meeting with Ricardo. His  mentorship did not end when I left UCSF; I still consult him for research and career advice. Dr. Muñoz has helped me grow from a mentee to a collaborator.”

“The commitment and passion that Ricardo selflessly pours into the mentorship he provides is unlike anyone else and something I strive for when working with my own students,” said Alline Barrera, Ph.D., PAU associate professor and associate director of clinical training for PAU’s program of Clinical Psychology. “Over the course of years that I've worked with Ricardo, I've learned that there are two things in life that he values the most: his family and his trainees. To be honest, he always makes me feel like I am both when I am in his presence! The most difficult transition when I left UCSF for PAU was the ending of our weekly individual meetings. Those of us who have been guided by his wisdom and inspired by his enthusiasm know how worthy he is of this recognition by ABCT. I am happy to see that now others will get to know how fortunate we are to have someone of his caliber as a colleague and mentor to future psychologists,” she added.

Dr. Muñoz’s academic and research focus at PAU has been the prevention and treatment of depression, smoking cessation, and Latino health. In 2012, he founded the Institute for International Internet Interventions for Health (i4Health) at PAU, a unique, visionary health and wellness online resource whose mission is to reduce health disparities worldwide through evidence-based Internet interventions and digital self-help. His work has been lauded by the Association for Psychological Science, NPR, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other leading media outlets.  He has been invited to be a keynote speaker at the 2019 meeting of the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions in Auckland, New Zealand.

Dr. Muñoz credits his mother for setting him on a course to mentor others. “Growing up in rural Peru, my mother taught me to read and write and do basic math before I entered primary school. She instilled in me the idea that education and knowledge are vitally important, and they should be shared,” he said.

Throughout his schooling, Dr. Muñoz learned from his own mentors that psychology is a powerful tool for shaping a positive life and that it can bring about a sense of hope and reduce suffering. He calls his approach “The Healthy Management of Reality” and has developed several prevention and treatment manuals based on this approach that are available from the i4Health website at no charge.

When asked what makes him a successful mentor, Dr. Muñoz said, “I look to work with students who share a commitment to helping others, are excited about learning, and are interested in what I can teach them. Attaining a Ph.D. gives students the opportunity and the right to help others, and add to the scientific knowledge. My goal is to help them reach their full potential in their career and in life. It is an honor and a privilege to work with the extraordinary students at PAU.”

Monique Cano, a fifth year PAU clinical psychology Ph.D. student and current mentee said that Dr. Muñoz encouraged her to believe her career goals and aspirations were possible. ”He welcomed my ideas and helped me brainstorm avenues to ensure I would meet my goal. Becoming a clinical professor at a university seemed like the perfect route.”  

Ms. Cano credits Dr. Muñoz for her becoming the first PAU student to receive a grant from Stanford University to work at the National Institute of Health’s Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research. “Dr. Muñoz is not merely a mentor—he is a role model for his students. He goes above and beyond as a mentor for his trainees by creating additional training opportunities in the areas of Latino mental health. His positivity, kindness, enthusiasm, and passion for helping others are contagious! I always walk out of his office with a smile on my face and ready to tackle the work that needs to be done.”  

Learn more about Dr. Muñoz’s career and interests here.