What I love about working as a psychologist comes from three sources: deep roots in science as a tool of understanding, a commitment to compassion, and respect for the power of the therapeutic relationship. I chose this profession later in life, after a broad range of experiences across class and culture. I wanted clinical and social psychology training because these fields offered the best information about how people change.
Change begins with a value for the wisdom within the patient or client and with the expertise that I can bring to your questions and concerns. That expertise was seeded by an urge to learn how to heal conflicts and social divisions not only across ways people identify, but within the individual.
I worked for a consulting firm that counseled businesses on diversity issues and conflict resolution early in my career. This work led to facilitating workshops and training groups. But the more I listened, the more I wanted to know how individuals come to understand who they are and how they weave a life of integrity from their history and communities. A National Science Foundation fellowship in culture and cognition helped anchor answers to my questions in anthropological, social, and psychological processes.
Expanding my knowledge and skillset has let me see and treat even more of the whole person than my core training allowed. For example, my work with the injured and the incarcerated taught me to see trauma and the role of nervous and autonomic processes in psychological healing. This curiosity and love of learning led me to learn how to treat trauma holistically. I also believe there is a role for beauty, the poetic, and hearty humor in the healing process.
Please scroll down to review my professional training and experience.
Deep roots in science as a tool of understanding
Commitment to compassion
Respect for the power of the therapeutic relationship
Professional Training and Background
Since then, my work has focused mainly on working with the incarcerated mentally ill at the California Medical Facility and San Quentin State Prison. I have also worked with active-duty military personnel. However, throughout much of my work with the State of California and the U. S. military, I maintained a part-time private practice. This practice allowed me to stay connected with the larger community and a wider range of individuals needing psychological care, including individuals with chronic medical conditions, anxiety, depression, and other conditions that threaten performing well in day-to-day life.
Professional CV provided upon request
I received my Ph.D. from an American Psychological Association-accredited pre-doctoral program in 2002 and completed a two-year APA-approved post-doctoral residency in 2004, each at The University of Michigan. The primary emphases were in psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral therapies. However, the curriculum sought to provide a broad base of knowledge in clinical theory and practice. Thus, it included training in humanistic and family systems theory and practice and practical training in clinical assessment and diagnosis, personality disorders, developmental psychology, behavior therapy, counseling, and community psychology.
I focused my training on cultural psychology through a National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship in Culture and Cognition. My post-doctoral training continued this interest through providing clinical services and research in mental health service disparities for people of color and forensic training in child endangerment and family reunification through the Family Assessment Clinic at my UM alma mater.
I build in a personality-guided approach to understanding my patients and working through therapeutic change. To be clear, I do not assume a personality disorder when a potential patient or client seeks services. Instead, I see personality functioning as an individual's signature for being and living in the world and how their issues show up in day-to-day life.
While many therapeutic methods tap a common pool of principles, techniques, and change strategies, the individuals who seek psychological services come from many different backgrounds, experiences, goals, and needs. This bundle—of an individual's history of experiences, internal development, action in the world—is unique. Consequently, the services I provide tend to bridge different theoretical perspectives.
I follow an integrative approach and draw on the techniques within my skill set best suited to a patient's needs that help reach your goals. My approach to care is anchored in seeing individuals not only as minds or hearts or brains or bodies in motion in a social world but in seeing these parts in intimate interconnection, explicable only by reference to the whole person.
I often begin therapy by providing psychoeducation to help my patients gain a basic understanding of how the parts of being human relate to one another. So, for example, I may encourage getting the body healthy to provide a good foundation for healing or to support the process of helping the mind attune to the body's language. Or I may help connect and clarify the information of the senses to the interpretations organized by thought and experience. This is particularly important for my patients seeking to recover from trauma.
"As former Chief of Mental Health for a California State agency, I have directly supervised Dr. Rosa Thomas from October 2015 thru December 2019. It is a pleasure to write this testimonial for such a knowledgeable, talented, and devoted therapist.
As a Senior Therapist, Dr. Thomas worked in excess of 50 hours per week providing individualized therapeutic services for the critically ill. Dr. Thomas's experiences have ranged from providing individualized therapy to Mental Health Program development to meeting the needs of her patients. Her experiences as a seasoned Crisis Management therapist facilitated the significant reduction in suicidal behaviors for inpatients and outpatients units.
Dr. Thomas tirelessly pursues advancing her understanding of differing therapeutic modalities thus providing the highest care with current researched knowledge. This pursuit increases her ability to successfully address a wide variety of mental health issues.
Dr. Thomas has, over the years, proven herself as an invaluable asset and partner for her patients."-SDM