La Puerta Abierta (LPA) is recognized as an effective organizational model that significantly improves access to quality mental health care for the Latino immigrant and refugee communities who typically face barriers to this care. One key feature of LPA is a service learning model that builds the capital of competent, bilingual clinical providers through the training and supervision of interns and volunteers, as well as through cross-systems training. The collective impact of this work is critical at a time when many service providers are in most need of understanding how to best serve the growing population of immigrant youth and families who present with complicated emotional and other life challenges.
LPA offers a bilingual, culturally and trauma-informed source of pro bono counseling support that is flexible and accessible. We work to standardize the care offered to constituents while being responsive to the complicated needs and issues facing this diverse community. We collaborate closely with psychologists, educators, and community service providers; and educating and training mental health providers and others who work with immigrants in understanding the broad range of migration, acculturative, and family stressors that can affect the mental and behavioral health of immigrant families.
Additionally, LPA works to empower youth and families through a peer-mentor training model to function as “first responders” in the local immigrant and refugee community. This serves to increase both the bandwidth of LPA’s work while promoting a culture of dignity and respect that is healing and hopeful for the multitude of community members who have previously suffered in the shadows of community life.
Groups are now available through LPA’s community-based sites that focus on:
• Reunification between adult family members and children after prolonged separation
• Women in transition within the family and community context
• Youth in school and community settings
• Collaborative support for educators and providers working within immigrant and refugee communities