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ABCT’s Spotlight on a Mentor program aims to highlight the diversity of excellent research mentors within the organization’s membership ranks. Our goal is to spotlight both promising and accomplished mentors across all levels of academic rank, area of specialization, and type of institution.
Dr. Alayna Park is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Palo Alto University and Director of the ADDRESS Mental Health Lab. She is a clinical psychologist, specializing in intervention design and implementation in diverse and dynamic contexts. Her community-engaged research focuses on improving psychotherapy engagement, quality, and outcomes for youth of color through implementation science. Specifically, she systematically reviews the mental health services literature to identify efficacious practices for promoting youth well-being. In partnership with community mental health organizations, schools, and nonprofit organizations, she then gathers stakeholder perspectives to effectively translate those empirically-grounded practices from controlled research contexts to diverse and dynamic clinical contexts. Through integrating research evidence and stakeholder perspectives, her research aims to improve the fit between evidence-based practices and the culturally and racially diverse populations they are intended to serve.
Consistent with my research focused on integrating evidence-based practices into routine mental health care, I strive to integrate evidence-based practices into my mentoring to deepen students’ knowledge, promote student self-efficacy, and empower students to become active consumers of clinical science. As the director of the Advancing Design and Delivery of Responsive, Effective, and Sustainable Services for Mental Health (ADDRESS Mental Health) lab, I regularly employ active learning strategies. For example, I invite students to co-author empirical papers and conference presentations with me, to attend my meetings with community partners, and to share their perspectives and expertise with fellow lab members during group mentoring meetings. I seek to promote a growth mindset in students by celebrating lab members’ efforts and being transparent about my own mistakes, failures, and flawed actions. Additionally, I take numerous steps to promote a supportive and inclusive scientific environment, including practicing cultural humility, creating opportunities for bi-directional feedback with students, and maintaining a working lab manual that outlines expectations for all lab members (including myself).
I am grateful for the many mentors who have supported and sponsored my professional journey. As an undergraduate student, post-baccalaureate trainee, and graduate student, I had the privilege of being advised by Dr. Bruce Chorpita, who modeled how to direct a productive, supportive, and fun community-engaged research lab. I have also been fortunate to receive mentorship from Drs. Kimberly Becker and Anna Lau, who have served as strong, female role models to me and who have shown me how empowering and uplifting it can be to have someone cheering in your corner. I have been lucky to work with outstanding clinical supervisors, including Drs. Danielle Keenan-Miller, Richard LeBeau, Tanya Brown, Andrea Scott, and Gretchen Sholty, who have emphasized the importance of self-care and who have modeled transformational leadership. I am indebted to many others, including Drs. Maya Boustani, Rachel Kim, Davi Lakind, Kelsie Okamura, Jennifer Regan, and Shannon Wiltsey Stirman – who have supported my knowledge, skill, and professional development with their generous mentorship. I am also thankful for my students for their energy, grit, and willingness to provide feedback so that I can continuously improve my mentoring.