At the Institute for Girls’ Development
Independent Practice Site

We are excited to be accepting applications for our Doctoral Practicum Training Program! Check with your Director of Clinical Training to see if the Institute is an approved site for your doctoral program.

2021-2022 Advanced Practicum Position Dates:
  • Dates: August 17, 2021 to August 12, 2022 (Selected Practicum Trainees may be invited to begin their training experience in late June or July depending on their availability and the clinical needs at the Institute)

Application Deadline: Rolling application acceptances until position is filled

Selection Date: March 31st, 2021 or sooner if filled sooner

About the Institute:

The Institute for Girls’ Development was founded in 2004 by Melissa Johnson, PhD. The Institute is dedicated to empowering girls, young adults, gender fluid youth, families and circles of community through three initiatives:

  • We promote excellence in psychotherapeutic and assessment services. Our asset-based model of comprehensive services is based on current research on girls’ and women’s development and effective psychotherapeutic interventions. We are committed to collaborating effectively with our community and our colleagues in education, health and mental health to provide the therapeutic environments that help girls thrive.
  • We provide empowering community programs for girls, young adults, gender fluid youth, and families. Our workshops have provided thousands of youth and their parents with growth- fostering experiences. Workshops are provided through schools and youth programs.
  • Our Professional Training Institute helps mental health and health professionals, educators and youth program leaders utilize best practices in helping girls build hardiness, mindfulness, and connections.

The Institute is well-known and well-respected in the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County communities. Our specialists take pride in providing high-quality treatment, assessment, community education and training in a collaborative team practice.


Who is the ideal trainee for the Institute Advanced Practicum Program?

The ideal trainee will be an advanced student. They must have prior experience (practicum or other) working with children and teens.  They must have successfully completed at least 1 practicum year. Courses in group therapy and child development are a plus. The student must have a strong demonstrated interest in working with children, adolescents, and families (all practicum trainees work with some children and some teens). The student must also have an interest in girls’ development, community education, feminist and multicultural approaches, and working with gender fluid, non-binary, and trans youth.  Lastly, the student must have an interest in learning to work collaboratively in a private practice model.


The Institute for Girls’ Development embraces diversity in our staff and in the clients we serve. Please review our 4 Essential Criteria for this position and learn about our Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. Bilingual/bi-cultural applicants are encouraged to apply.

Who are the Practicum Supervising Faculty?

Monica Valdivia Aguilar, MA, LMFT — Clinical Director, Young Women’s Specialty Practice, Co-director of the DBT Specialty Practice, and Senior Supervisor for pre-licensed Masters’ level clinicians
Vicki Chiang, PsyD — Clinical Director, Child and Adolescent Specialty Practice; Supervisor
Grace Goodman, PsyD —  Supervisor, Program Evaluation and Advancement Coordinator, and Perinatal and Postpartum Program Coordinator
Melissa J Johnson, PhD — Training Director, Founder and CEO
Danielle Neddo, PsyD — Member of Leadership Team, DBT Team, and Child and Adolescent Specialty Practice, Delegated Supervisor

What is the Institute’s philosophy of supervision and training?

Our supervisors each bring their own style, personality and approach to their work. You and your supervisors will discuss these approaches in more depth, including how they will be integrated into the supervision process. In general, Institute supervisors draw from the following:

Developmental models
• Multicultural competency
• Feminist approaches
• Third wave behavior approaches such as DBT, ACT and other mindfulness-based models
• Interpersonal neurobiology
• Positive psychology
• Body aware/body centered approaches
• Practice management skill building
• Community education and community partnership building

We incorporate theory and research as well as our own phenomenological experience in the provision of competency-based supervision.

What kinds of training and professional development experiences are offered as part of the Advanced Practicum Program at the Institute?
  • Trainees will have the opportunity to work collaboratively in team consultation and facilitating groups with other clinicians from various guilds
  • Trainees will have the opportunity to receive training in our Stand Up, Speak Out!® Curriculum, as well as the Institute’s annual 1-day mindfulness training for professionals in mental health and education. These trainings generally take place in July. Practicum students are encouraged to attend these trainings for free prior to starting their formal practicum training in August.
  • Trainees will gain experience in working with children, teens, and families.
  • Trainees will co-facilitate groups for children and/or teens.
  • Trainees will learn about a private practice delivery system.
  • Trainees will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with collateral providers in the community.
  • Trainees will participate in facilitation of community education workshops and potentially some public speaking.
  • Trainees will learn about professional network through participation in several events.
  • Trainees will participate in some program development activities.
What is the Advanced Practicum Training Schedule?
Monday 2pm-7:30pm (If Practicum students are interested in a 3rd partial day for seeing clients, they may select Monday afternoon/evening)
Tuesday 10:30am-7:30pm (mandatory day)
Wednesday 11am-7:30pm (This option can be selected as 2nd training day or 3rd training afternoon/evening)
Thursday 11am-7:30pm (This option can be selected as 2nd training day or 3rd training afternoon/evening)

Specific days and times that it are mandatory for practicum students to be available: SM (Staff Meeting), TR, (Training) SUP (Supervision)

Tuesday 10:30 – 11:30 TR for the first 3 months and as scheduled for the remainder of the practicum year

SM/TR: 11:30am-1pm,

TR: 2pm-3pm

Wednesday SUP TBD
Thursday SUP TBD

Total hours expected to be worked per week: 16-20 hours/week

Number of direct client hours per week: 8-10 hours/week. Note: it generally takes about 4 months to reach this level of client contact.

Number of clients practicum students  have at one time: 5-9 individual/family clients, 1-3 groups per week (generally co-facilitated) Practicum trainees should anticipate a working caseload of about 50% children and 50% teens; in addition, some young adult sessions may be an option.


What are the cultural and demographic groups who typically receive services at our site?

Cultural: LGBTQ+, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian American, African American/black, bi-cultural, other

Other demographics:

  • Children (6-12)
  • Adolescents (11-18)
  • Transitional Aged Youth (18-25)
  • Groups
  • Individuals
  • Families and parents


What types of services will advanced practicum students provide?
  • Brief therapy
  • Long-term therapy
  • Community outreach activities
  • Psychoeducational & therapy groups


What diagnoses and clinical issues do clients present with?

Diagnoses: Depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, LD, youth who are neuro-diverse and/or on the spectrum, youth with chronic health and/or pain syndromes, disruptive, impulse-control challenges, and conduct disorders

Treatment themes: Emotional regulation challenges, academic challenges and stresses, relational/friendship/social difficulties, health and pain management, gender identity

Theoretical orientations: Students will learn mindfulness approaches, developmental and strength-based models, and feminist/diversity-oriented approaches to therapy. Students will be exposed to ACT, CBT, DBT, motivational interviewing,  solution-focused therapy and expressive arts.

  1. First, students must obtain approval from their Director of Clinical Training in order to apply.
  2. Trainees provide a cover letter, explaining interest in this training position. Cover letters must address the 4 Essential Components: Diversity, Clinical Work, Education, Organizational Interests. Along with the cover letter, applicants include their Curriculum Vitae and 3 Letters of Recommendation from professors and supervisors.
  3. Email to Dr. Melissa Johnson, CEO at
  4. In the subject line, please write “Practicum YourLastName” (e.g. Practicum Lopez).


Application Due Date: March 5th, 2021
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