Minority Fellowship Program Advisory Committee - 2016-17 Program Year

Advisory Committee members assist the MFP is achieving its objectives of expanding the delivery of culturally competent mental health and substance abuse services to undeserved minority populations, and to increasing the number of doctoral level culturally competent ethnic minority Marriage and Family therapists.

They do this through the provision of programmatic and professional guidance in the growth and development of the AAMFT Minority Fellowship Program, from a variety of perspectives. Advisory Committee members provide guidance on program related policy matters. Advisory Committee members lend their experience and expertise to the establishment of criteria for application review, Fellow selection, and expansion of the MFP. If you are interested in becoming an MFP Advisory Committee member and want to learn more about the application process please visit the MFP AC Application page.

Anibal Torres-Bernal, PhD - MFP Advisory Committee Chair

Anibal Torres Bernal is an assistant professor of psychology in the mental health counseling program at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC). He holds a B.A. in psychology from Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico: Recinto de San German and an M.A. and Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University. He has held academic appointments at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), Drake University, State University of New York: Empire State College, Syracuse University and Fairfield University.  His teaching interests include research methodology, issues in professional development and theories of psychotherapy. His scholarly endeavors have focused on exploring issues of accessibility, sustainability, diversity and social justice within the mental health professions and educational programs. Currently his research agenda includes projects that critically analyze and evaluate the delivery of mental health services / training while addressing questions of access and cost within these contexts. He has published and presented his work in multiple venues. Amongst these are ten publications in refereed journals and close to thirty presentations.

Anibal’s expansive clinical experience has provided him with the opportunity to serve in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics providing systemic therapeutic services to families dealing with mental illness, and a psychiatric hospital providing psychiatric services to adolescents with acute psychiatric crises. He has also extensively worked with varied and diverse populations, including Spanish-speaking immigrants. He has worked as both a direct provider and a clinical supervisor having supervised therapist assistants, mental health workers, family therapy clinical trainees, mental health counselor trainees, pre licensure marriage and family therapists and licensed mental health professionals.        

Christine Beliard, PhD

Dr. Christine Beliard is the Director of Doctoral Programs (PhD and DMFT) in the Department of Family Therapy at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She has also served the President-Elect of the Florida Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.  Dr. Beliard earned her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Florida State University. She received her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from The University of Houston-Clear Lake, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Spelman College.

Dr. Beliard came to NSU in the fall of 2011, and served in the capacity of a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Family Therapy Department. She enthusiastically decided to continue as a permanent faculty member in the department beginning in 2012. Dr. Beliard teaches Diversity, Ethics, Supervision, Group, Couples, Doctoral Seminar, Quantitative Research courses, and Narrative Therapy in the Masters and Doctoral programs. She also serves on dissertation committees, and is the former faculty advisor for the college’s Graduate Student Government Association.

Dr. Beliard is currently using the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997(NLSY97), which includes nearly 10,000 participants, to study relational processes during the period of emerging adulthood. Her program of research centers on healthy relationship processes for those most at risk for encountering high conflict and violent relationships. Her primary interest is in the study of relationships over the course of emerging adulthood, when intervention may help to counter social and family risk factors that oftentimes lead to dysfunctional patterns in later adulthood. Dr. Beliard is committed to social justice and the provision of relevant mental health services to minority families through best practices in training and service delivery. She is an alumna of the SAMHSA/AAMFT Minority Fellowship Program, and has served as a mentor for the program.

Deanna Linville, PhD

Deanna Linville, Ph.D., LMFT is an associate professor and program director for the couples and family therapy program at the University of Oregon. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist as well as a clinical member and approved supervisor with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Linville received specialized training in medical family therapy (collaborative family healthcare) through her doctoral fellowship at University of Chicago-Chicago Center for Family Health. This training background still influences her current research and practice interests. Her research and clinical interest and expertise are in the areas of eating disorders and health promotion interventions, especially when delivered in integrated care settings and made accessible to marginalized groups. Dr. Linville has over sixteen years of experience as a family scientist-practitioner, twelve years as a CFT educator, close to forty publications and six years of experience managing clinical intervention trials.

Darren Moore, PhD- MFP Advisory Committee Chair

Darren D. Moore, Ph.D., LMFT, is an assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He teaches in the Masters’ program in Marriage and Family Therapy where he trains graduate students and medical students in systemic approaches to therapy and collaborative health. Dr. Moore also engages in clinical work at Mercer Medicine, where he works with individuals, couples, and families regarding a variety of mental health and relational concerns. Dr. Moore’s research, teaching, and clinical interests include Bariatric Medicine, Eating Disorders, and Addictions. Dr. Moore was a recipient of the AAMFT/SAMHSA Minority Fellowship while a student at Virginia Tech, as well as has received a number of other accolades. Dr. Moore currently is involved in a number of writing projects to include scholarly publications as well as material for a mainstream audience. Dr. Moore is currently working on his first book, “Less is Moore” where he will be detailing his personal experience of losing 185 pounds. Likewise, Dr. Moore has written for a variety of newspapers, has appeared on numerous radio shows, has served as mental health consultant for season 2 and season 4 of INSIGHT2HEALTH (reality based fitness challenge,) has appeared on MBTV, NBC, and FOX networks, and will soon be doing some things for local/national news. Dr. Moore also conducts continuing education workshop training programs for mental health and allied health professionals, as well as conducts personal development training programs for individuals, couples, families, and organizations in the community. Dr. Moore received his B.A. in African American Studies at the University of Minnesota, M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Valdosta State University, Ph.D. in Human Development: Marriage and Family Therapy from Virginia Tech, and currently working on a M.S. in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Development and Change at Mercer University.  Dr. Moore currently serves as the Chair of the Multicultural Issues Committee for the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, as an editorial board member for the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, as an associate board member for the National Association of African American Studies and Affiliates, as board member for the Southeast Region Scholar Advisory Committee for the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars program, and served as a MFP mentor for the last two years.

Megan Oka, PhD

Megan Oka, Ph.D., LMFT, is an assistant professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in the Department of Family Consumer and Human Development and Utah State University. She teaches classes in cultural diversity, play therapy, addictions, and violence, as well as supervision practicum. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Brigham Young University, and her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Texas Tech University. She was part of the inaugural group of AAMFT Minority Fellows. Her research interests include intimate partner violence, gender, clinical outcomes, and process research. She is currently partnering with researchers at Brigham Young University, the University of Connecticut, and Auburn University to examine mechanisms related to change and client outcomes in university-based and community clinics. Additionally, she is currently examining therapist interruptions of clients in therapy relative to gender and client outcomes. She is a clinical member of AAMFT and an approved supervisor. Her clinical interests include children, couples, and survivors of abuse.  

Arnold Woodruff

Arnold Woodruff, currently the program manager for a series of community based programs in the Central Virginia region for individuals with serious mental illness, has been a Clinical Member of AAMFT since 1982. Nearly his entire professional career has been in public mental health and child welfare agencies with a couple of ventures into full-time or part-time private practice. Arnold received his M.S. degree from the COAMFTE approved program at Northern Illinois University and is also an Approved Supervisor. He has also served on the divisional boards in both Virginia and Illinois and is a Past President of the Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.


Rikki Patton, PhD

Dr. Rikki Patton completed her doctoral work at The Ohio State University in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2012. As a doctoral student, she completed much of her clinical work as a project therapist on NIDA-funded research projects examining treatment approaches among underserved populations, including homeless youth, homeless families with young children, and families experiencing substance abuse. Her academic work as a doctoral student also surrounded these topics.  While at OSU, she was award the EHE dissertation fellowship to examine transactional sex involvement among a substance-using sample through the lens of the Capability Approach. Dr. Patton published her dissertation findings in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2013.Upon completing her doctoral work, Dr. Patton accepted a post-doctoral research fellowship as part of a T32 NIDA award through the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center from 2012-2013. The fellowship allowed her to conduct substance abuse research within a healthcare setting, specifically examining transactional sex involvement in an Emergency Department setting. As a post-doctoral fellow, she was also the co-mentor for an undergraduate honors student. As co-mentor, Dr. Patton guided the student through all steps of his honors thesis, from defining the research question to writing a manuscript for publication consideration. Dr. Patton led the development of several manuscripts as a post-doctoral fellow, and has published some of those manuscripts in substance abuse-related journals. Dr. Patton joined the Department of Counseling as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in August 2013. Her research interests surround the intersection between underserved populations, substance abuse, and MFT. She is currently mentoring masters- and doctoral-level students in research related to substance use, MFT, and/or underserved populations. Dr. Patton is also using secondary data archived through the Inter-University Consortium of Political and Social Research (ICPSR) to examine the intersection of MFT and substance use among 1) people experiencing homelessness and 2) women with a history of transactional sex involvement. She is also using data collected in the Department clinic to examine prevalence and correlates of substance use among treatment-seeking couples. He plans to extend her research to include the examination of integrating systemic interventions and substance use screening and assessment.

Bonnie Atwood, Public Member

Bonnie Atwood is no stranger to Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the topics it covers. She negotiated her son through the special education system for many years, and also stepped up as a family caregiver for her parents. Her mother lived with her at home until the age of 102. Atwood is a lobbyist, having represented VAMFT, and now represents the Virginia Retired Teachers of Virginia. She is also an award-winning professional writer. She writes about family, health, and human rights. She started out as a chorus girl in the Ice Capades, took a few detours, including four years as a reporter for a daily newspaper, earning a law degree, and started her own lobbying and freelance writing firm. She is a feminist, a family caregiver, a cancer survivor, a promoter, and a positive thinker, working at the intersection of humor, social justice, and extreme etiquette. Her business is called Tall Poppies Freelance Writing LLC, and it is state certified as a Small Women or Minority Owned Business. She is immediate past president of Virginia Professional Communicators, formerly known as Virginia Press Women.