My doctoral training at the University of Miami prepared me to provide you with high-quality, evidence-based therapy. You might wonder: what does “evidence-based” mean? Psychology can get a bad wrap for not being a true science, but the truth is that many psychological treatments have gone through rigorous scientific testing to determine their effectiveness. Results of countless studies show that certain kinds of treatments are effective for specific problems. I had the privilege of completing my doctoral training at universities that emphasized mastery of evidence-based treatments. This is an exciting time for the field of psychology because we now have at our fingertips, a menu of effective treatment options to offer individuals who are struggling with a variety of challenges.
While at the University of Miami, I gained extensive experience using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) in my work with children and adults experiencing anxiety, OCD, and related problems. I also focused my research on child temperament and the development of emotion regulation. My research interests greatly inform my approach to treatment with children and families, as I am always keenly aware that children's progress in treatment is influenced by various biological and environmental factors, and it is necessary to adjust our approach to therapy according to each child's unique situation.
Following my graduate work at the University of Miami, I completed my predoctoral psychology internship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I gained specialized training in working with young children and their families at the Project Enlightenment Program. Here I worked with families to help them overcome extreme shyness, difficulties with child compliance, and other common challenges in toddlerhood (e.g., difficulties with sleeping/eating, school readiness). I also worked with mothers in the postpartum period who were experiencing Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit at the UNC Hospital. Working with mothers struggling with severe anxiety and depression was challenging and rewarding; I feel honored to be able to continue to help mothers on this difficult journey toward healing.
After obtaining my PhD in Clinical Psychology, I decided to gain further specialized training further in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders as a post-doctoral fellow. I worked alongside Dr. Jill Ehrenreich-May and Dr. Annette La Greca at the University of Miami. Within the Child and Adolescent Mood and Anxiety Treatment (CAMAT) program, I provided specialized therapy services to children, adults, and families, and also supervised doctoral students on therapy cases. Some of the disorders I treated included: obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, selective mutism, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and specific phobias (e.g., emetophobia).
At the completion of my training, I felt passionate about providing evidence-based therapy to children and adults in the South Florida community, especially those struggling with anxiety, OCD, and related disorders. I am fortunate to be in a private practice group that shares these ideals: Pediatric Psychology Associates. Here, I provide therapy in English and Spanish out of our Weston office. By providing effective tools in a warm and compassionate environment, I aim to help you and your family overcome the obstacles that are keeping you from living a full and meaningful life. If you'd like to consider working together on your own journey toward healing, let's talk.
Dr. Penela proudly provides evidence-based therapy services in English and Spanish throughout Broward County: Weston, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Davie, Cooper City, Coral Springs, Parkland, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, and surrounding areas.