Benedictine Oblate Named

Benedictine Oblate Named "Citizen Psychologist"

Dr. Feli Sebastian

Benedictine Oblate Feli Sebastian has been named a 2018 APA Citizen Psychologist by the American Psychological Association.

Honored for her sustained community engagement and leadership in working with underserved women and minorities, Feli’s work has also includes outreach to formerly incarcerated women and youth. 

We asked Feli to help us understand this award and her work. 

What exactly is a "citizen psychologist"?

A citizen psychologist is a psychologist who serves as a leader in his/her community through prolonged involvement in meaningful activities that improve the lives of all.

Those activities can be public service (member of a city council, elected official), volunteerism, board membership, and other roles not often associated with day-to-day work of a psychologist. 

Why is this work important?

I will quote the 2018 APA President Dr. Jessica H. Daniel's mantra: "Psychology is everyday, in every way."

I believe in it. Every aspect of what we do and how/why we relate to one another is filled with psychology; our actions can be explained through understanding the psychology of human behavior.

For example, in 2014, we found out that the formerly incarcerated women attending the vocational training/seminar do not have "soft job skills" that often are the cause for being terminated from their job.

So, we revised our vocational curriculum and included the soft job skills.

Often these women were victims of sexual trauma/abuse, broken homes, poor educational background; issues that were not resolved and interfered with their ability to accept corrections from supervisor and relate effectively with co-workers. 

Does your experience as an Oblate guide you?

The Benedictine Oblate way of life has been my guide in my career, community work, and relationship with people.

I try my best to listen and be present to someone talking to me at the moment. I listen beyond her/his words and feel her/his feelings.

Assumption/bias is an ineffective way to work with women who were formerly incarcerated (or any person for that matter). I have to be where the person is in his/her development (mental, physical or spiritual). 

When I am able to do this, it opens up better communication and relationship.   

I believe that the core of everything we do - psychologist or not - is influenced by our attitude, perception, care/respect for others, and by our relationship with God, ourselves, and others.    

It means so much to me because we are here for one another; to serve one another in any way we can.

As others put it: ALL LIVES MATTER; regardless of our size, age, race, color, sex or sexual orientation, status, religion, culture.    


Comments (2)

  1. Toni Wilken:
    Feb 27, 2019 at 01:18 PM

    Congratulations and a shower of blessings upon Feli!! Well-deserved. She is the genuine article! ??????

  2. Ellen Serapio:
    Mar 02, 2019 at 11:25 PM

    So deserving of the award. Miss you Fel. Wish we could talk one day.

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