Paola Mendoza-Rivera, PhD, is a bilingual Spanish-speaking post-doctoral psychologist. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University, and she completed her doctoral internship at Wellpath – South Florida State Hospital. Her primary career goals involve providing bilingual psychological services as well as conducting bicultural research that both directly target and address the existing health disparities and systemic inequality within clinical and forensic settings. During her graduate training, Dr. Mendoza-Rivera has worked with underserved cultural minorities, such as Latinx individuals, who are frequently over-represented in the legal and criminal justice systems of the United States. Her previous clinical experience includes providing psychotherapeutic services and administering clinical as well as forensic assessments to adults and juveniles within community mental health and in-patient correctional settings.
Dr. Mendoza-Rivera offers bilingual services through a culturally-informed lens with an added focus on trauma-informed treatment and assessment administration. Research-wise, Dr. Mendoza-Rivera is an alumna of the Clinical Crises and Emergencies (CCER) research lab at Palo Alto University. Under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Bongar in the CCER, she collaborated on a variety of projects studying the assessment and management of suicide risk, cultural differences in suicide risk and protective factors, and the propagation of social inequity through the continued practice of non-culturally responsive psychological assessment. In her dissertation, Dr. Mendoza-Rivera piloted the Spanish adaptation of the Cultural Assessment of Risk for Suicide (CARS) measure, which is the only known culturally responsive suicide risk assessment.
In the future, Dr. Mendoza-Rivera aspires to further her cross-cultural work to improve the quality and relevance of clinical and forensic assessments available for Spanish-speaking communities. As well, Dr. Mendoza-Rivera is interested in furthering her cross-cultural consultation efforts. During her leisure time, Dr. Mendoza-Rivera enjoys advocating for the reduction of mental health stigma among Latinx communities and improving suicide prevention efforts in her home country of Puerto Rico. She is also the co-founder of the Instagram blog “Puerto Ricans Having Doubts” (@puertoricans.having.doubts.phd), in which she served as a mental health advocate for fellow graduate students.