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Behavioral Health Care for Children, Adolescents and Young Adults

For the past four years, the UTPA Department of Social Work has received funding from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to fund its Hogg Bilingual Scholarship Program through which MSSW students receive full tuition scholarships and professional development training. The program’s purpose is to address the need for culturally and linguistically competent mental health professionals who will serve the mental health needs of cultural and linguistic minorities in the state of Texas. A mini-conference sponsored by the department through its Hogg Bilingual Scholarship Program was held on Friday, August 15, 2014 at UTPA’s McAllen Teaching Site. In addition to its focus on the importance of culture and language in the provision of mental health services to language and cultural minorities in the Rio Grande Valley, the mini-conference will address the notion of integrating behavioral health services in ways that reduce access and stigma related to these typically underserved populations. Specifically, the conference will address behavioral health services to children, adolescents and young adults and will include four workshops that identify resources, treatment and prevention strategies used in work with these populations. Two additional workshops will focus on ethical practice with children and young adults.

Note: Includes 6 hours of CEU’s for licensed social workers (LBSW, LMSW, LCSW) and other licensed professionals (LPC’s), including 2 hours of Ethics.

At a Glance


To be scheduled.


UTPA McAllen Teaching Site. map!

Who should attend:

Social workers and other counseling professionals.




CEU’s awarded only to licensed professionals.


No prerequisites required.

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Detailed Schedule

8:30 am – 9:00 am
9:00 am – 9:10 am
Introduction of Hogg Bilingual Program Scholars
9:10 am – 10:00 am
Keynote Address: Integrating Behavioral Health Services
Dr. Erica Perez Bonura
10:00 am – 10:50 am
Healing Childhood Trauma with Play Therapy
Velma Schmidt, Registered Play Therapist
10:50 am - 11:00 am
11:00 am - 12:00 Noon
Ethical Practice with Children
Nina Enriquez, LCSW
12:00 am – 1:10 am
Lunch and Discussion of Mentoring Opportunities
1:10 pm – 2:00 pm
Promoting Adolescent Behavioral Health in Schools
Elizabeth Escamilla, LMSW
2:00 pm – 2:10 pm
2:10 pm – 3:00 pm
Recognizing Behavioral Health Concerns in Young Adults
Dr. Eugenia Curet
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Ethical Issues in Counseling Young Adults
Dr. Romeo Escobar





Dr. Erica Perez Bonura

Dr. Erica Perez Bonura, a native of the Rio Grande Valley, earned her PhD in School Psychology from Texas A&M University, in an APA approved program with an emphasis in child psychology and the Latino child. She is a Texas Licensed Psychologist, currently the Director of Behavioral Health Services at Nuestra Clinica del Valle in San Juan, Texas, where she directs its Bienestar Emocional Program. Her work involves development of an integrated health care program that includes the assessment of psychological functioning of patients and brief interventions using psychoeducational groups, motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy. Her clinical training experience in a number of education programs and school districts includes providing functional behavioral assessments and psychological evaluations of children and adolescents, individual and group therapy in English and Spanish with children and adolescents from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and consultation with school staff and administration on the social/emotional functioning of children. As a complement to her clinical experience, Dr. Bonura has ten years of professional experience as an educator, including elementary school teaching, research, consultation and more recently, adjunct faculty teaching in the UTPA Department of Educational Psychology. Her work as both an educator and clinician is punctuated by a series of scholarly publications and presentations, as well as an impressive number of awards for her scholarship and community service.

Velma Schmidt
(Registered Play Therapist)

Velma Herrera Schmidt, LPC-S, RPT-S, LBSW, has extensive experience working in behavioral health services for children and youth. She has been a Registered Play Therapist for the past twelve years. She is currently a Registered Play Therapy –Supervisor and a Lead Therapist with Children’s Advocacy Center of Hidalgo County in Edinburg, Texas. She provides individual and family counseling to children and adults dealing with trauma issues, including play therapy counseling to children between the ages of 3 and 7, debriefing and crisis intervention to victims of child abuse and their families. She also provides clinical supervision and training to licensed therapists, licensed interns and practicum students. Between 1991 and 2010, she held several positions at Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, including Clinical Social Worker, Program Administrator and Program Specialist. As a Program Administrator for a period of five years, she performed clinical and administrative supervision for three clinics, provided individual, family and group counseling services to children and adolescents, ages 3 to 17, and served as Supervisor of Hidalgo County Children’s Services. As a Program Specialist between 2006 and 2010, she provided individual, family and group counseling to children and adults with anxiety disorders. She has worked with at-risk youth in Tropical Texas’ Youth Crisis Center in its shelter and out-patient program and as Regional Trainer for the Texas Youth Commission. She served on the Board of the Texas Association for Play Therapy for three years and was the President of its Rio Grande Valley Chapter from 2009 to 2013.

Enedina Enriquez

Enedina Enriquez, LCSW, a native of the Rio Grande Valley, received her Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1998 and her Master of Science in Social Work in 2007. Since receiving her degrees, Ms. Enriquez has worked in several social work settings, providing direct services, community education and consultation. She was employed with the McAllen Independent School District for seven years as a school social worker. She operated her own agency providing case management services under the CPW Program of the Texas Department of State Health and has had several contracts with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services where she employed social workers to conduct supervised visitation services for CPS. Much of her work has included case management services that addressed the special health care needs of children. This work included conducting psychosocial assessments, providing referrals to community agencies, advocating for their medical needs, and mediating with schools or other entities to secure necessary resources for these children. Her work with children and families, which also included conducting mental health assessments for Adult Protective Services, led her in the direction of hospice work. For the past eight years, she has worked with families and hospice agencies providing direct counseling services, organizing support groups and providing education and consultation. For the past year, Ms. Enriquez has taught in the UTPA Department of Social Work as a full time Lecturer. She has served on the various departmental committees and plans to continue to teach social work.

Elizabeth Escamilla

Elizabeth Escamilla, LMSW, a social work practitioner for the past ten years, received both her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees at UT-Pan American in 2003 and 2007, respectively. In addition to providing social, behavioral and academic instruction to students with severe mental and physical disabilities in schools as a special education teacher, she served as a resource teacher in special education, which included training general education teachers on special topics concerning special education populations. She has extensive work experience in services to the adolescents, providing individual counseling on drugs, gangs, school and personal issues through the McAllen Boys and Girls Club and more recently, as Prevention Intervention Manager in the Mission Independent School District. As Prevention Intervention Manager, she provided mental health assessment and treatment services to adolescents, developing advanced intervention plans and providing appropriate treatment of diagnosed mental health disorders. As the program manager, she received referrals from assigned school campuses and worked cooperatively with campus officials to assist in assessment and development of plans of action for students. In addition, she organized activities to prevent truancy, drug use and other disciplinary matters, teaching students skills in effective communication and decision-making.

Dr. Eugenia Curet
(Educator and Counseling Services Administrator)

Dr. Eugenia Curet is currently the Assistant Dean of Students for Support Services at UTPA. She holds a MSW from New York University and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from The Union Graduate Institute and University in Cincinatti, Ohio. Her practice experience in social work, public health and mental health programs spans four decades and includes sixteen years as a clinical instructor in Public Health and Psychiatry and seven years of part-time teaching experience in social work. Prior to her arrival at UTPA, Dr. Curet was employed at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College (UTB/TSC) for almost five years as a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Student Health Services. She is the author of several large funded grants through which she has developed innovative service programs to serve young adult populations on both campuses. She was the Principal Investigator of the SAMHSA funded Campus Suicide Program and the UTB/TSC Project Peer Educators: Survey of Students’ Sexual Behaviors and Knowledge and Attitudes about HIV funded by the U.S. Office of Minority Health through the Cardea Services Organization. She is also a trainer on the provision of culturally sensitive treatment services to Hispanic populations.

Dr. Romeo Escobar
(Mental Health Private Practitioner)

Dr. Romeo Escobar, PhD, LCSW, ACSW, is the owner and Chief Mental Health Practitioner of an independent mental health outpatient clinical practice in Harlingen, Texas. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Social Work at the University of Texas-Pan American. He received his Master of Social Work degree and PhD in Leadership Studies from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. He has over 26 years of mental health and social work experience having held several clinical and administrative positions in mental health and substance abuse in both the private and public sectors. Dr. Escobar has an extensive and diverse background in mental health counseling and program administration, including services to children, adolescents, adults and geriatric populations in both inpatient and outpatient clinical settings. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is recognized as a Private Practitioner by the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, with Board Certified Diplomate status. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and is a member of several state and national professional organizations representing mental health, social work, counseling and psychology.