Melissa Shepherd was born and raised in Panama and then moved to California for college. The common thread into her life in the United States is an insatiable interest in cultural exchange. This was fueled by her mother’s creativity in engaging students in learning about themselves and their classmates’ cultural background. Whether through food, music, or documentaries, her mother instilled curiosity and a sense of world citizenship. Not surprisingly, college life included contributing to event organization at UCLA’s Office of International Students and Scholars. Ms. Shepherd is also one of the founding members of the Latin American Students Association at UCLA. Such mission now manifests in her work, as she joined friends in creating the International Society of Black Latinos. This organization endeavors to expand knowledge about Latinos in the African Diaspora through workshops and special events. She views her role as Vice-President of the International Society of Black Latinos as a precious opportunity to serve the community through designing and participating in educational events. As a Black Latina psychotherapist, her curiosity about cultural history influences the process of supporting individuals in their healing journey. This is aligned with valuing ISBL as a vehicle to facilitate respectful communication among cultural groups.
Ms. Shepherd obtained a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University in Los Angeles, while working as a Case Manager for Olive Crest Foster Family Agency. Additional experience followed at Foothill Family Service as a School-based Therapist, and was licensed in 2001. In cultivating workshop creation and presentation skills on various topics, her clinical approach includes multimedia and experiential activities to promote conversation.
In 2004 she opened her private practice dedicated to help individuals identify strengths to use as tools for conflict resolution. Psychotherapy, workshops, newsletters, training videos, forthcoming books on burnout and motivational speaking represent her diverse tools to assist individuals in their self-empowerment. Among trainings she’s conducted is that of the LAPD psychologists on managing the impact of cultural narratives on clinical work. For this training she received accolades from the Chief of Police, William J. Bratton, and Chief Police Psychologist, Dr. Kevin J. Jablonski.