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Kiara M

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Columbia University


mental health counseling, trauma and resiliency, race-related stress and racial trauma, gender-affirming mental health treatment, qualitative research skills,


Hello! My name is Kiara Manosalvas (she/her). I recently earned my PhD from Columbia University in counseling psychology. I am a psychologist, researcher, and educator. My research has focused on mental health needs for marginalized communities (i.e., women of color, LGBTQ+ individuals). My dissertation focused on the curricula and pedagogical strategies that psychology training programs can implement to train social justice oriented psychologists. I currently work full time at the Manhattan VA as a psychologist serving veterans with a wide range of concerns, including depression, PTSD, anxiety, and socio-economic-related stressors. I have also worked at the Brooklyn VA where I work with survivors of military sexual trauma and combat-related PTSD. I have also worked with the New York State Transgender Identity Program where I provided gender-affirming therapy to trans and non-binary folks who are currently incarcerated. I am passionate about social justice-oriented mental health treatment, empowering survivors of violence and trauma, and helping people learn what emotional well-being means for them. I am also bilingual in English/Spanish and am passionate about working with Latinx communities. When I'm not working, I'm checking out coffee shops and seeing where I can get the best and strongest coffee. I used to work as a barista (pre-Covid) in NYC and loved learning about the coffee industry. I also love spending time with my family, reading, and taking care of my many, many plants!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Incarceration & LGBTQ Populations

In this project, we will work on a project to spread awareness on the realities of LGBTQ folks who are currently incarcerated. We will focus on the violence and discrimination they face, but we will also emphasize the strength and resiliency they possess. This could be done in several different ways, not limited to: building a social media account dedicated to the issue, outlining a podcast series, writing a literature review, etc.

Race-Related Stress & Racial Trauma

In this project, we will discuss what racial trauma is and the mental health consequences of racism. We will create a photo series with people's narratives on these topics. We will work together to create questions and interview people of color on how they manage the current climate, coping mechanisms that are useful/not useful, and how they find strength during this time. If you identify as a White person and want to explore what "Whiteness" is, I encourage you to interview White people in your life and ask them how they practice anti-racism in their lives. I encourage the student to act as an "investigative journalist" in this research project as we try to understand how we can support the people of color in our lives. Importantly, we will aim to understand how we emphasize resiliency and strength in communities of color when talking about racism.

Finding Self-Love Through Literature - Women of Color Book Club

In this project, we will discuss how women of color prioritize themselves and their emotional well-being in a world that tells us we are not as worthy. We will organize a "self-love for women of color book club" where we will create a plan to bring women together to read, discuss, and honor our lived experiences. Additionally, we will create a "self-care plan" where we discuss what it looks like to treat ourselves with respect, dignity, and self-love.

Languages I know


Teaching experience

I have been a teaching assistant for several undergraduate and graduate courses, including Psychopathology, Multicultural Counseling, Career Counseling, Foundations of Counseling, Substance Abuse, and Micro & Macro Aggressions in Institutional Climates. In these courses, I have been responsible for preparing lectures, facilitating discussions, creating exams, and grading.


Work experience

Brooklyn Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital (2020 - Current)
Psychology Extern
New York State Transgender Identity Program (2020 - Current)
Psychology Extern
Stigma, Identity, and Intersectionality Lab (2018 - Current)
Research Fellow
John Jay College - Counseling Center (2019 - 2020)
Psychology Extern


University of Maryland
BA Bachelor of Arts (2015)
Boston College
MA Master of Arts (2017)
Mental Health Counseing
Columbia University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Counseling Psychology

Completed Projects

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