Dr. Pilar Castaneda grew up in a Catholic faithful family and since very early in life wanted to help people. She received her B.Sc. in Clinical Psychology at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana a Catholic University and worked as a Volunteer with underprivileged children from a red district. She knew the importance of the family and wanted to be able to develop skills to integrate the family into her clinical work. She received her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Indiana State University. Dr. Castaneda has worked in different agencies and also in her private practice. She worked at River Valley Counseling Center, in Massachusetts, where she was part of the Sexual Abuse program as well as the Spanish Speaking Team. There she not only gained extensive experience working with trauma survivors but also worked with very diverse populations and in particular with children. She did assessments as a consultant for the Adoption program at the Department of Social Services. Dr. Castaneda taught Family Therapy at the Universidad de la Sabana and she also Coordinated the Practicum Experience for the Psychology Students, did supervision, and worked on her private practice. Dr. Pilar Castaneda worked also at Family and Children Services of Ithaca, NY. During her time at Family and Children, she worked with individuals, families, and couples from very diverse populations and backgrounds. She worked with International populations from India, Africa, European countries, and Latino-American countries as well as clients from the States. She conducted different workshops and trainings in systemic work with couples and families as well as did supervision.
Dr. Pilar Castaneda received her Doctoral Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University in a program with an emphasis on diversity and the self of the Therapist. During her Doctorate, she worked at Goldberg Clinic, at Family and Children Services, and also in her private practice. She did her dissertation on the Impact of a Terminal Genetic Disorder on the Family, which gave her more understanding of the struggles and how to help families living with a terminal diagnosis.
Dr. Castaneda through her Clinical Experience has been very aware of the importance of faith and spiritual values in the healing of trauma and mental disorders. She wanted to emphasize and integrate her Catholic Values in her work and joined Holy Family Counseling Center in Georgia, where she continued her work with children, individuals, couples, and families, many of them Catholic. When she moved to California, she joined the Divine Mercy team to continue supporting children, individuals couples, and families in their emotional and spiritual healing. Dr. Castaneda has been a Professional Fellow and an approved supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and is Licensed in the State of New York and she is now an Associate Member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and is Licensed also in the State of Texas.
Dr. Castaneda uses systemic thinking to work with her clients and creates a warm and safe environment where clients feel heard, understood, and encouraged to grow. To learn about her clients and to understand them in their context, she explores the history of their lives including not only information regarding their family backgrounds, dynamics, values, and patterns but also their connections and relationships, their strengths and difficulties, in their context. She bases her interventions on the client’s strengths and resources and encourages empowerment in their lives in a respectful environment where Catholic values are embraced.