My doctoral training at the University of Miami and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have prepared me to provide you with high-quality, evidence-based psychological treatment. You might wonder: what does “evidence-based” mean? Psychology sometimes gets 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 level of effectiveness. The results of these studies show that certain kinds of treatments are effective for specific problems. I have had the privilege of completing my doctoral training at institutions that emphasized mastery of evidence-based treatments. This is an exciting time for the field of psychology because we now have available at our fingertips, a menu of effective treatment options to offer individuals who are struggling with a variety of challenges.
While working toward my Masters and PhD at the University of Miami, I gained extensive experience using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in my work with children and adults experiencing anxiety, OCD, and related problems. In addition, to address children’s behavior problems, I was trained in various behavior management approaches, such as Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is a two-step approach that first helps children and their parents strengthen their relationship and then teaches parents a specific skillset to increase their child’s compliance by learning to handle misbehavior in a calm, consistent, and effective way. For adolescents and adults struggling with relationships problems, I also received extensive training and experience using an Interpersonal Therapy approach, which focuses on improving communication and increasing social support.
To culminate my doctoral studies, I completed my predoctoral internship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I gained specialized training in other areas, such as the treatment of trauma in children and adolescents using Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I also enjoyed 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). Another highlight of my internship program was the opportunity to develop a specialized pediatric skillset at the UNC hospital while working with children suffering from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma, and cystic fibrosis.
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 Drs. Jill Ehrenreich-May and 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 in their clinical work. Some of the disorders I treated included: obsessive-compulsive disorder, selective mutism, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and specific phobias.
At the completion of my training, I felt passionate about providing evidence-based psychological treatments to children and adults in the South Florida community. I am very fortunate to be in a private practice group that shares these ideals, Pediatric Psychology Associates. 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.
Dr. Penela proudly provides evidence-based therapy services throughout Broward County in South Florida: Weston, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Davie, Cooper City, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, and surrounding areas.