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Master of Counseling graduate made most of clinical, research experiences

ASU College of Integrative Sciences and Arts master of counseling graduate Lisa Gutierrez outdoors in front of blossoming oleander

Lisa Gutierrez, who was actively involved in clinical and research experiences in the Master of Counseling program and held a leadership role in the Master of Counseling Student Organization, will be honored as the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts' Outstanding Graduate Student during ASU's spring 2022 commencement ceremonies. Gutierrez will begin a doctoral program in psychology in the fall at Midwestern University.

May 02, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

ASU Master of Counseling graduate Lisa Marie Gutierrez distinctly recalls the week that her career ambitions were pulled toward clinical psychology. 

“My ‘aha’ moment happened in my high school psychology class,” said Gutierrez, who will be honored as the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts’ Outstanding Graduate Student for 2022 at ASU Graduate Commencement on May 9. “We were watching the movie ‘SybilThe film is about a young woman with dissociative identity disorder who is in therapy with a psychiatrist..’ I remember being so fascinated by this film. While I’d been interested in psychology before seeing the movie, it really solidified my interest in clinical psychology and the mental health field.”

After that, she said, she started reading psychology and counseling books in her free time. 

Gutierrez, who is from Barstow, California, chose to complete her bachelor’s degree in psychology through ASU Online, while working at Starbucks as a shift supervisor.

“I also was an undergraduate intern at Barstow Counseling, where I helped co-facilitate groups, did case management and assisted in a recreational therapy setting,” she said.

Gutierrez said she decided to pursue the Master of Counseling at ASU “because of the faculty, the courses offered, and the location — which is still somewhat close to home. The courses that really drew me in were Counseling Latinx and Trauma in Counseling.”

This full-time immersion program in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts emphasizes clinical experiences and career-connected learning, which includes the opportunity to work with clients as a student counselor in the Counselor Training Center.

“I had the privilege of having Dr. Nancy Truong as my clinic supervisor in the CTC. While we were entirely virtual — working with clients via telehealth appointments — I feel that I had such an amazing practicum group and learned so much from Dr. Truong,” Gutierrez said. “She really gave me the room to explore different interventions and helped me to grow into a confident clinician.” 

Gutierrez also interned at La Frontera Arizona – EMPACT, in the trauma healing department, providing therapy in both English and Spanish.

“I have a goal of making therapy services more accessible to Spanish-speaking populations and I feel as though EMPACT helped me learn how to achieve this goal and advocate for my community,” she said. “They provided me with so many training opportunities, including for EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) certification, and I’ll always be grateful.”  

When she started this two-year master’s program in fall 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gutierrez thought this global event would negatively impact her training.

“Instead, I was able to apply my research skills and my commitment to culturally informed research, to assist Professor Cristalis Capielo Rosario in investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Latinx populations living in the United States,” she said.

Actively involved over the last two years in the PLENA research lab directed by Capielo Rosario, Gutierrez took the initiative to lead an independent investigation examining the association between economic stress, food insecurity and psychological symptoms reported by Latino immigrants during the pandemic.    

“Lisa is a highly driven student,” said Capielo Rosario, in her letter supporting Gutierrez’s nomination as the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student. “She took the lead on developing the proposal, organizing, and reporting the data for this project. This fall, Lisa presented the results of her study at the 2021 NLPA virtual conference. I was so impressed by her work that I invited Lisa to collaborate with me and another doctoral student to develop two new poster proposals.” 

Gutierrez won’t be slowing down too much before starting the next stage of her career journey. 

“I plan to continue my education and get my doctorate in psychology, and I’ll be starting the PsyD at Midwestern University this fall,” Gutierrez said. “I’ll also be teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Phoenix College over the summer, presenting research at the American Psychological Association 2022 convention and taking a much-needed vacation!” 

Gutierrez took time to share these additional reflections with ASU News:  

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective? 

Answer: My biggest takeaway is that my experiences matter more than I ever believed they did. I did not think that I would be bringing up my lived experiences in this program and using them to have discussions with my peers about multiculturalism, but I did and they were helpful! This taught me that just because I’m a first-generation student and come from a small town doesn’t make me any less of a graduate student. This realization was eye-opening to me and I feel that it helped me grow as a person. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. Cristalis Capielo Rosario taught me so much during my time at ASU, but I would say the most important lesson was to just believe in myself. Dr. Capielo Rosario believed in me more than I believed in myself sometimes. Every time I received an honor, I’d be so surprised and Dr. Capielo Rosario would always say, “Congratulations and well deserved!” This happened enough times to where I realized, I do work hard and I do deserve the good things that come. I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Capielo Rosario for instilling this confidence in me and showing me that it’s okay to express pride over my accomplishments. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: It can be easy to feel intimidated when attending such a big university, but remember to be unapologetically yourself. Your experiences matter, and stick to your boundaries because anybody with your best interest in mind wouldn’t cross them. 

Q: Did you have a favorite spot at ASU for studying?  

A: I really enjoyed the self-care lounge my program had for us! I would sometimes come to campus hours before class started just to be able to work there. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would address homelessness. Every human being and domesticated animal deserves to have shelter. I have a very vivid memory of watching another high-rise luxury apartment being built on Mill Ave. while a homeless man dug through the garbage across the street. Research has shown that it would cost approximately $20 billion to resolve the homelessness problem in America, and while $40 million is nowhere near that amount, it’s a start. 

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