Joseph M. Cervantes, Ph.D.
I am a mental health professional who is informed by both his Chicano/Latino and Native American roots, as well as by years of professional training as a child and family psychologist. Nurturing a deep respect for the interconnectedness of all life, as well as the role that one's psychospiritual heritage plays in one's life journey, have made me increasingly aware of a life force that is a significant core of our being. I am humanistically oriented both by personal upbringing and professional training. I feel very committed to learning from others' truths as they impact who I am in my personal and interpersonal formation. A deep appreciation and understanding for the personal and psychological formation of one's being is the precursor towards the transformation of one's essence. Thus, an essential philosophical belief for me is to understand the transformative role that life events play, how to maximize learning from these experiences, and subsequently to appreciate the more relevant agenda, that is, an increased awareness of service to one's community.
As a professor, my teaching interests at the university have focused primarily in three areas: ethics, clinical spirituality, and multicultural instruction. It has been my experience as a practitioner that mental health professionals need to be increasingly more aware of the role that human diversity plays in counseling practice. This issue of difference tends to highlight not just ethnic and cultural diversity, but also awareness and a practiced professional skill level in how gender, sexual orientation, and disability interface with human functioning. Further, the issue of ethics continues to be a significant dimension to a practitioner's professional work. It is my feeling that in order to be grounded in a modality of practice that emphasizes life-long learning, one also needs to be committed to being the best practitioner one can be in his or her area of designated specialty. This involves knowledge of how the handling of various clinical and counseling issues impact values, decision-making and intervention. Thus, our ethical awareness in practice is a life-long skill that needs continued refinement. Lastly, the role of spirituality, while not necessarily taught in our specific course work, is underscored by the problems of daily living that clients characteristically present within a counseling practice. The awareness, respect and skill level in understanding the impact of spirituality in counseling is infused through those courses that I teach.
Areas of research have been primarily focused in ethnic and cultural diversity along with writing about clinical spirituality. I have found that the interaction between these two content areas are extremely valuable for practice in the new millennia, and relevant to document how this interaction occurs. With the advent of increased acceptance for a wide range of human diversity in our worldview philosophies, it has become imperative that we also document and research those arenas that help our society to advance. It is these two areas that form the cornerstone to my writing, as well as my professional practice in the community.