Over 40 Years of Service to the Mental Health Community

MaMHCA: Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association

Conference Workshop #2:



Immigration and PTSD:

The Intersection and Impact on Trauma Treatment

by Paola Contreras, PsyD (See bio of Keynote Panelist Nilda Laboy, PsyD Below)

Immigration and Trauma have both been widely discussed recently as politics and immigration policies have brought debates about the psychological consequences of how immigrants are treated in the United States. In this workshop, Paola will discuss her perspective as an expert and experienced professional working with victims of human trafficking, political persecution, and also those seeking assylum in the United States. 


About the Presenter: Dr. Contreras is an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Department at William James College. For over ten years, Dr. Contreras has trained providers on the psychological consequences of trauma, including human trafficking, political persecution, and war. She is an experienced evaluator for individuals petitioning for asylum under a variety of U.S. immigration relief programs such as T-Visas, U-Visas, stays of deportation, and VAWA among others. At William James College, Dr. Contreras teaches classes on trauma, psychotherapy, research, and Latino Mental Health. Dr. Contreras is also the lead researcher of William James College’s Human Trafficking Community Research Hub, where she is the principal investigator on studies related to human trafficking in the United States. She formerly served as a co-chair of the APA’s Committee on Women in Psychology and was a member of the APA’s Task Force on the Human Trafficking of Women and Girls. Dr. Contreras received a psychology degree from Universidad Landívar in Guatemala City and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. She completed her clinical and research post-doctoral training at the Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School’s Program for Psychotherapy. In 2014, Dr. Contreras was the recipient of the APA’s Emerging Leader for Women in Psychology award.

Keynote Panelist: Nilda Laboy, PsyD

Nilda_M_Laboy_2018_-_office About the presenter: Dr. Laboy is Associate Professor and Chair of the Counseling Department at William James College. She has close to thirty years’ experience providing evaluation and treatment of refugees and immigrants, including evaluations of individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. As an adjunct faculty of law with the Georgetown University Center for Advanced Legal Students, she collaborated with faculty attorneys and students involved in cases of asylum petitions, which included testifying in federal court. Dr. Laboy did her predoctoral internship and was a staff member at an inpatient evaluation and treatment facility on the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC that provided services to immigration detainees, mostly Cubans from the Mariel boatlift. In her practice in the Northern Virginia area, she provided assessment and psychotherapy services to refugees and immigrants, mainly from Central America. She has continued working with immigrants in Massachusetts, mainly those involved with the criminal justice system. In 2014, as part of her work with the federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team – MA1, she was deployed to Oklahoma for two weeks to evaluate unaccompanied minors during the massive immigration of that summer. At William James College, in addition to her administrative duties, she teaches courses in clinical practice (internship seminar), ethics, assessment, psychopathology and Latino mental health. Dr. Laboy has a PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Carlos Albizu University in San Juan, PR. She is member of MARIACES, ACES, ACA, MaMHCA, APA and MPA.