PostDoctoral Training Program


The Institute for Girls’ Development was founded in 2004/2005 by Melissa Johnson, PhD. The Institute is dedicated to empowering girls, their families and their circles of community through three initiatives:

  1. 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 colleagues in education, health and mental health to provide the therapeutic environments that help girls thrive.
  2. We provide empowering community programs for girls and their families. Our workshops have provided thousands of girls and their parents with growth-fostering experiences. Workshops are provided through schools and youth programs.
  3. Our Training Institute helps mental 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 community. Our specialists take pride in providing high quality treatment, assessment, community education, and training in a collaborative team practice.

Leadership Team
Melissa J Johnson, PhD – founder and CEO
Monica Valdivia Aguilar, MA, MFT – Clinical Director, Young Women’s Program and Senior Supervisor for pre-licensed Masters’ level clinicians
Vicki Chiang, PsyD – Clinical Director, Child and Adolescent Specialty program
Erin Kelly, MA, MFT – Director of DBT Training and Program Development
Marissa Lee, MA, MFT – Clinical Director, DBT Specialty Program

Our organizational model is a psychological corporation that shares many characteristics of a group private practice. Clinicians who are gaining supervised experience at the Institute will work side by side with licensed clinicians from various guilds.

Four Specialty Practice Areas:

  • Child and Adolescent Specialty Practice
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Specialty Practice
  • Assessment Specialty Practice
  • Young Women’s Specialty Practice

Supervisees have the opportunity to receive some experience and training in each of the specialty practices. Supervisees will typically do the majority of their training in 1 – 2 of these specialty areas.

Our 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
  • CBT
  • Third wave behavior approaches such as DBT 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 supervision.

Outline of Clinical Training Activities
This is an overview of the activities that make up the Institute’s program of a planned, structured professionally supervised clinical training experience. We provide a training sequence that builds on skills and competencies needed to prepare for independent practice. In addition, the Institute provides socialization into the mental health profession via the integrated modalities mentoring, didactic exposure, role modeling, enactment, observational/vicarious learning, supervision and consultative guidance. The Institute therapists work collaboratively together, providing the experience of team consultation, creative program development, and more. Planned activities address the integration of current and evolving psychological knowledge, principles, and theories to the professional delivery of therapeutic services to the public. The emphasis in our practice is services to girls, young women, and families. Our clinical training promotes effective interventions for girls, women, and families. Consultation and training addresses clinical, legal, and ethical concerns and responsible practice management skills as well as professional development in community building and public speaking skills.

Upon completion of training, supervisees will have had the opportunity to:

  1. Work with a range of clients (ages and challenges)
  2. Gain experience with a range of modalities (individual, family, parent consulting, group work, couple therapy)
  3. Expand skills, competence, and confidence in effective models of therapy including mindfulness approaches (including DBT), strength-based models, and feminist/diversity-oriented perspectives
  4. Identify and potentially develop a sub-specialty area (second year)
  5. Learn more about incorporating assessment into clinical work, as is appropriate for one’s license
  6. Develop connections with the community through networking opportunities and treatment coordination
  7. Understand the elements of group practice
  8. Optional: Deliver empowering skills-based workshops to the non-clinical population in our community. This includes the opportunity to add to engaging and creative ways of teaching skills to community youth.


  • Orientation and Training Meetings
  • Weekly individual supervision to meet Board requirements
  • Weekly group supervision/consultation
  • Weekly DBT consultation group, if the supervisee is involved in the DBT Specialty training
  • Assessment Team meetings, if the supervisee is on the Assessment Specialty Team
  • Research & Reading Group
  • Staff Meetings
  • Guest speakers and trainings
  • Practice development training
  • Support for CEU’s

Supervisees will have regularly scheduled supervision and training throughout their training. Here are some of the training activities:

  • Individual and Small Group Supervision
  • Case Presentations and Process
  • Reading and Research Group
  • Supervision and Training in Group Facilitation
  • DBT Team Consultation
  • Case Consultation with the entire team

Optional Activities:

  • Mindfulness Sitting Group
  • Yoga

We have designed this program as a two-year training program. However, we recognize that some supervisees may complete their hours and become licensed in less than 2 years. That said, here is the basic structure and time frame for our program. This can be individualized as needed.

First Year:
We require an initial one year commitment.
It is expected and hoped that supervisees in good standing will continue for a second year or until the licensure process is complete.

We value the long-term commitment of our team members and welcome those in good standing who are interested in continuing at the Institute for their professional work.

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