M.A. Program Faculty

Faculty play a crucial role in the academic life of the master's program, as they model the skills and values of the integration of the art and science of clinical practice, and provide essential mentoring for our students.

Experienced practicing clinicians are particularly able to help students develop the critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills students need to function effectively when presented with the complex problems that characterize counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy practice. Experienced clinicians are central to the execution of our model of education, which emphasizes both the unique demands of professional education and the importance of mentoring and modeling. Through modeling a life that combines clinical practice with the awareness of current research and literature, the master's faculty enable students to form a strong identification with the multi-faceted roles and responsibilities of contemporary clinicians.

The Master's faculty exemplify the core tenets of our mission statement and program philosophy. Namely, our faculty champion social justice and an appreciation of diversity, while embodying an orientation that focuses on client and student strengths, and emphasizes resiliency, recovery and evidence-based practices. The program has assembled a team of professionals who come from a broad range of personal backgrounds and clinical experiences in order to mirror our culturally diverse student body and their future constituents. Our faculty members are critical thinkers who engage people easily, possess integrity and the ability to communicate effectively, and above all, know how to instill students with a sense of hope and excitement about the counseling field. The Wright Institute is committed to basing all recruitment, hiring, admissions and promotion decisions upon individual qualifications, merit and competency. It is the Institute's policy to provide equal opportunity for all students, faculty and employees.


  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyStephanie Chen, Ph.D. - Core Faculty
    Dr. Chen is a licensed clinical psychologist with passion and commitment in providing mental health services to children, youths, adults and families. She has 12+ years of extensive training and experience working with diverse children, adolescents, young adults and adults who struggle with emotional, behavioral and interpersonal difficulties including but not limited to anxiety, depression, complex trauma and grief and loss... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyMilena Esherick, Psy.D. - Program Director
    Dr. Milena Esherick is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in the areas of eating disorders and substance abuse. She is the former Program Director of El Camino Hospital's Intensive Eating Disorders Treatment Program - a partial hospitalization program for adults with severe eating disorders, mood, and anxiety disorders... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyKaren Godfredsen, Psy.D. - Full-Time Faculty
    Dr. Godfredsen's clinical training has included work in jails, family therapy centers, community mental health clinics, VA hospitals, and private practice settings, all with an emphasis on social justice issues, client empowerment and cross-cultural practice. She served for three years as Director of Behavioral Health at the AIDS Resource of Wisconsin, maintaining a small private psychotherapy and consulting practice... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyRitchie Rubio, Ph.D. - Core Faculty
    Dr. Rubio has worked as a clinical child psychologist, play and expressive art therapist, researcher, program evaluator, statistical consultant, and assistant professor/lecturer in a variety of clinical and academic settings including universities, pediatric hospitals, community mental health settings, schools, and research institutes in three countries: Philippines, U.S.A., and New Zealand... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyKatherine Tarnoff, MA, LMFT - Core Faculty
    Katherine Tarnoff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with extensive experience and a passionate commitment to working in community mental health. Her primary focus has been in home and school based settings in Alameda and Contra Costa County, serving families, children and adolescents in individual and group therapy... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyUlash Thakore-Dunlap, MS - Full-Time Faculty
    Ms. Dunlap has extensive clinical experience working with children, adolescents, schools, families and adults. Her work experience includes Richmond Area-Multi Services, San Francisco where she works in school-based settings with the Wellness Program and also with children, adults and families at the outpatient clinic... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyBernadette Torrez, Psy.D. - Full-Time Faculty
    Dr. Torrez has worked in a variety of clinical settings, including university academic hospitals, community mental health, residential treatment facilities, schools, and private practice. Her areas of expertise are complex trauma, family and couples in crisis, attachment theory, addiction, oppression stemming from cultural diversity and socioeconomic issues, psychopharmacology, and neuropsychological assessment... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyNancy Ulmer, LCSW - Core Faculty
    Ms. Ulmer is a licensed clinical social worker who has maintained a private practice in Albany since 1983. In her practice, she works primarily with individual adults and couples, and she facilitates chemical dependency interventions for families. Her particular area of interest and specialization is in working with family members affected by a loved one's substance abuse... Read more »
  • The Wright Institute Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling PsychologyDeanna van Ligten, Psy.D. - Core Faculty
    Dr. Deanna van Ligten's clinical training and experience reflects her broad interest in psychology and has involved working in diverse therapeutic contexts, using multiple therapeutic lenses and theoretical concepts. This has included teaching and training clinicians, long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy with adults, group therapy for schizophrenic populations with a focus on education, substance abuse, and relationship skill building, psychological and... Read more »