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Child psychologist strives to help youth

Rebeca FerrerHOLLYWOOD — Rebeca Ferrer joined the Family Services Department in October, and as the only child psychologist on staff, she will treat children tribalwide.

Ferrer has nine years of experience in the field. She earned a Doctor of Psychology and a master’s in psychology from Nova Southeastern University, as well as a bachelor’s in psychology from Loyola University in New Orleans. She worked as an evaluator of Social Security cases with the state and as a clinical supervisor for the children’s out-patient program at Jackson North Medical Center in Miami.

Drawn to the field because of her love for children and her interest in language acquisition and cognitive development, she specializes in trauma for children and adolescents. Trauma includes neglect, physical, sexual and verbal abuse, loss and separation. Ferrer has found family separation as the most common issue affecting children in the Tribe, but she also treats depression, anxiety and behavior issues caused by attention deficit disorder.

“Children are more of a challenge because they can’t verbalize their feelings like adults,” Ferrer said. “Kids are resilient and you usually get to see the fruit of your work.”

Ferrer incorporates play therapy for children and art therapy for adolescents to help them communicate their feelings. By building rapport, she builds trust and provides a safe place free of judgment.

“They like the individual attention,” she said. “They get one person’s whole attention for 60 minutes. Most kids don’t get that. They know they will have one hour that is their time.”

The Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center conducts initial evaluations and then refers cases to Ferrer. Before she joined the department, children were referred to psychologists in the community.

“My goal is to put myself out of business,” Ferrer said. “I want to get the kids in here, give them coping skills and get them functioning efficiently so they get too busy with extracurricular activities, friends and a life going great to come back.”

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at