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Dr. Cynthia Lucero

The Dr. Cynthia Lucero Center

Latino Mental Health Program

Bienvenidos y gracias por su interés en proporcionar servicios a la población latina en nuestro país.

The Dr. Cynthia Lucero Center’s Latino Mental Health Program (LMHP) offers a unique opportunity for Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) students who are interested in working with individuals from Latino cultures. Through intensive immersion in Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, students are prepared as culturally sensitive clini­cians with expertise to meet the particular mental health needs of this rapidly growing and underserved segment of the U.S. population.

Today, one in every eight individuals living in the U.S. is Hispanic or Latino, and by 2050, one-quarter of the population will be of Hispanic descent. Despite this looming popula­tion explosion, only about one percent of the nation’s psychologists identify themselves as Latinos. The need for professionals, Latino and non-Latino, trained to care competently for Latino patients/clients is already critical and will only increase in severity over the next few years.

Given that many Latinos in the U.S. have limited English proficiency, the ability to provide services in Spanish is essential in providing competent services to this population. Even among Latinos who are fluent in English, many communicate more effectively in Spanish. There are also unique and richly diverse values, beliefs and traditions among the various Latino cultures, as well as common experiences of immi­gration and diversity as Latinos in the U.S., that must be well understood by providers in order to make competent clinical assessments and implement effective interventions.

Given the complex interaction of social and cultural factors in the mental health of this population, it is not surprising that most Latinos who seek mental health services do not return after the first visit, primarily because of a lack of “cultural fit” with the provider.

Latino Mental Health Program

MSPP students in the Latino Mental Health Program will complete the MSPP core curriculum in their individual program. In addition, they will demonstrate competency in advanced Spanish fluency and Latino cultural knowledge to work as competent clinicians with this population. This specialty training will emphasize an awareness of the social and cultural similarities and differences among Latino groups, and an understanding of the social context of Latinos living in contemporary U.S. society. Graduates of the program will acquire greater sensitivity, not just to the role of culture, but also, of economics and other social factors in the developmental, emotional, relational and behavioral aspects pertinent to the mental health of Latinos.

For students of Hispanic/Latino descent, regardless of their level of Spanish fluency, the program will foster self-awareness of the influence of their own cultural beliefs and values in their clinical work with Latino patients/clients. It will also promote a deep appreciation of the rich diversity and idiosyncracies among the Latinos cultures and how these impact on clinical work. For Latino students with limited Spanish fluency the program will offer an opportunity to enhance their linguistic competence.

Program Highlights

  • Intensive Spanish language training in Guayaquil, Ecuador during one summer. There is also a local immersion option for students unable to complete an international program.
  • Required 1 credit Latino Mental Health Program course during the Fall & Spring semesters of each Academic Year. See Academic program pages for details.
  • Extensive clinical training in field placements serving Latino patients to enhance the students’ sensitivity to the specific mental health needs of Latinos.
  • A variety of activities (e.g., conference, lectures, films, social and cultural events) throughout the year that expose students to various aspects of Latino cultures.

Program Outline

Time LMHP Activity 2 yr programs (ie, Counseling MA Programs) 3 yr programs (ie, CAGS School) 4 yr programs (ie, PsyD Clinical, School)
Year 1 X X X
Year 1 Summer Session X X X
Year 2 X
(can chose between LMH-II or LMH-III)
Year 2 Summer Session X X X
Year 3
  • Internship placement at site serving Latino population (min. 25% caseload w Latinos)
  X X
Year 4
  • Internship placement at site serving Latino population (min. 25% caseload w/ Latinos)
  • Doctoral Project in topic relevant to LMH

Who Can Apply?

Applicants with an Intermediate level of Spanish language fluency who have been accepted into an MSPP academic program.

About the Lucero Center

The Dr. Cynthia Lucero Center was founded by friends and family of Dr. Cynthia Lucero, a graduate of MSPP, who died in the spring of 2002 after collapsing during the Boston Marathon. The new Latino Mental Health Program is the latest creation of that center, which also sponsors lectures and scholarships in Cynthia’s memory.

Updated 3/30/15

Give to the Lucero Center

Your gifts will help this important educational program to succeed.

Please contact for information on how to make a donation to this program.


Director, Lucero Latino Mental Health Program: Mari Carmen Bennasar, PsyD

In the News: WGBH presents "Overcoming Cultural Stigmas About Mental Illness and Barriers to Treatment"

Latino Mental Health Program FAQs

Dr. Cynthia Lucero

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