21 November, 2023 11:29 AM

Cultivating Cultural Healing: Introducing IFR's Internship Class of 2023-24

Internship Class of 2024 headshots

*missing in this photo Veronica Nuñez


If you had to say in just a few words what IFR was about, you might say cultural healing, mental health, or community-centered—and all of those would be right. At the heart of IFR’s intention to continue cultivating our healing traditions into the future, our Clinical Internship Program stands out as a lasting legacy to ensure there will always be behavioral and mental health programs and services that draw on our community’s rich cultural traditions and practices. 

As long as there are new bilingual/bicultural clinical interns, IFR’s legacy lives on. That’s why it’s always a special joy for us to welcome a new group of interns each year. In light of a national shortage of bilingual clinicians, it is a particularly joyous occasion for us to welcome and introduce IFR’s Internship Class of 2023-24!

Coming from different schools and parts of the country, IFR welcomed eleven interns this Fall. Each intern was chosen to participate in a unique track, providing them with specialized hands-on training with specific Latinx subpopulations. Ready for a full schedule filled with trainings, in-services, and client work, the Class of 2023-24 is already hard at work. 

Despite the tremendous coordination that goes into preparing their training, the Clinical Internship Program is overseen by two people: IFR’s Director of Integrated Behavioral Services, Dr. Luis Perez, and Program Assistant, Carolina Hernandez.

The Interns all have busy schedules ahead of them, but they will also be exposed to many unique experiences. As Dr. Luis Perez asks: “Where else, for example, can clinical interns receive culturally specific clinical training from Dra. Concepción Saucedo Martinez? I know fully licensed psychologists who would LOVE to hear Dra. Saucedo’s perspectives on how culture impacts healing.” 

As we’re learning, this is one of the many reasons clinical interns select IFR as their choice to complete their studies. Our interns deliberately select IFR as the canvas for their growth, but we haven’t always known what the decisive factors have been for them. 

This year, we asked this incredibly committed Internship Class of 2023-24 a few questions. One of them was: what made them choose IFR? In their own words, here’s what they said:

Bertha Osorno: IFR is one of the only agencies that offers a different cultural lens to healing.

Isabel Garcia: As a Mission District native, I wanted to give back to my own community. I want to support the well-being and growth of the Latine community and provide culturally relevant mental health services.

Mae Monroney: I was deeply impressed by IFR’s mission to serve the Indigena community and interweave traditional medicine and healing into the clinical, therapeutic work.

Blanca Juarez: I am a San Francisco Native and I know how important it is to receive services from an organization that values Cultura and develops trust in a culturally responsive way.

Paloma Chavez: I chose to do my internship at IFR because of the mission and values that they uphold. When looking for an internship, I made sure to look for an agency that worked with Latine people and prioritized the needs of our community. 

Delia Cleveland: I value IFR’s essential work in supporting and uplifting the Indigenous Latinx community, so I wanted to learn how its services are developed and delivered.

Cindy Alvarenga: I chose IFR because I want to learn more about how to serve la raza in a way that is meaningful and culturally inclusive. I want to be a clinician that strays away from Eurocentrism and focuses on celebrating marginalized identities.

Melina Machuca: I love the community at IFR and the focus on cultura and how our own cultura can heal, repair, connect, and strengthen our relationships to others and ourselves.

Veronica Nunez: I felt compelled to do my internship at IFR because of its non-western, cultural/traditional approaches to mental health and critical view on all aspects that contribute to a person's wellbeing. 

Fernando Amador: My decision to join IFR was primarily influenced by the rich blend or "mezcla" of shared historical backgrounds among Latino populations, families, and individuals. This experience allows me to gain valuable insights into the unique needs of diverse client populations and marginalized communities grappling with healthcare disparities in San Francisco.

Kim Ibarra: I chose IFR because I wanted to be integrated in an organization that honors and uplifts its community in the different pathways to healing.

Impressive, right? We also asked them about their hobbies. As it turns out, at least half of them are nature-lovers who enjoy hiking with and without a dog and collecting plants. This is also an incredibly active bunch who, aside from hiking, also love dancing, yoga, and weightlifting. Then, there are the interns who love the arts - whether that means reading, art, looking for unique music, or karaoke. 

On that musical note (ha, ha!), IFR also asked the interns to share a song on their playlist that makes them happy. To end 2023 on a happy note, we offer you the Internship Class of 2023-24 playlist of songs that make them happy. 

María la Curandera - Natalia Lafourcade

El Baile y El Salón - Café Tacuba

Resilient - Rising Appalachia

Romántica Champeta - Bomba Estéreo

La Vida Es Un Carnaval - Celia Cruz

Mientras Me Curo Del Cora - Karol G 

Dumb Love - Neil Frances

El Muchacho Alegre – Fuerza Regida

The Glow of Love - Change

Gucci Los Paños - Karol G

Shake up Christmas - Train

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