The Wright Institute Sanctuary Project (WISP)
The Wright Institute Sanctuary Project (WISP) is a partnership between the Wright Institute and the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (EBSC) in Berkeley, CA. The practicum's main goals are: to provide clinical services to the Bay Area's immigrant and refugee populations, and to offer advanced Wright Institute students an opportunity to develop assessment skills specific to working with these populations.
Formed in 1982, EBSC is a non-political organization offering sanctuary, solidarity, support, community organizing assistance, advocacy, and legal services to individuals escaping war, terror, political persecution, intolerance, exploitation, and other expressions of violence.
Most WISP clients come from three groups of persecuted populations: Guatemalan Mam Mayans who have experienced political violence, individuals who have experienced domestic violence, and sexual minorities who have experienced persecution. A large majority of the clients served by the EBSC have immigrated from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Psychological evaluations are based on: a clinical interview; mental status exam; assessment of anxiety and depression, as well as credibility and malingering; cultural considerations; diagnostic impressions; and recommendations.
Asylum in the U.S.
According to U.S. law, a refugee is someone who has left their country of origin and is "unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country, because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution" due to one of five scenarios including "race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." Asylum seekers are defined as individuals who meet the criteria for refugee status, but have arrived in the U.S. on their own accord in search of safety; therefore, requesting asylum status after they have arrived in the country. If an asylum seeker can prove refugee status by demonstrating one of the above scenarios, they are technically eligible for asylum.
Clients are referred by partner organizations in the Bay Area and fees are then determined through these partnerships.
Brenda Padilla, M.S.S.W., Psy.D.
Clinical and Training Coordinator
2015-2016 WISP Team
Daniela Kantorova, Psy.D.
Luz Argelia Gómez, M.A.
Training Director Assistant
Gina Åsbø, M.A.
Kirsten Fox, M.A.
Leif Griffin, M.A.
Ripple Patel, M.A.
Natasha Smolkin, M.A.
Jean Thomas, M.A.
"It was a really rewarding experience to see how a psychological assessment fits into the immigration process and how it can make a real difference in someone's life."
"I am very glad I had the opportunity to work with the EBSC through the WISP practicum. It is one of the more rewarding experiences I have had during graduate school!"
"Fantastic learning experience, including clinical interviewing and assessment, report writing, program development, and a broader understanding of political and cultural contexts."