L.A. CHICAGO SCHOOL
Dr. Terry Masi Retires
By Lucy Birmingham
Dr. Terry Masi, Senior Director of the Office of Placement & Training, Los Angeles Campus may be retiring from The Chicago School, but her ten years developing enduring relationships and unique, far-reaching student training programs will be long remembered as a cornerstone of the school’s successful integration into LA and SoCal communities. “My philosophy has always been to just say ‘yes,'” Terry explains. “If you say ‘yes,’ you open yourself up to incredible possibilities and experiences.”
The ‘yes’ word and a dry sense of humor got her far. She remembers with a smile, the three years of challenges she overcame while trying to establish a practicum at the Los Angeles Mission. “It’s a Christian-based organization, and they did not think they needed psychology. But of course, being on Skid Row and understanding the complexities of the people that were coming through their doors, they finally acknowledged that they needed help and would try out a mental health program,” she says.
During one important team meeting the chaplains began talking about their experience with exorcisms and what they had witnessed with clients. “A director turned to me and said, ‘As you’re sitting here and listening to this, what are you thinking?’ I said, ‘I’m thinking that we’re never going to get a grant to finance exorcisms.’ Everyone laughed. It’s been five years and we’re still there.”
In fact, The Chicago School’s relationship with the LA Mission’s Anne Douglas Center for Women has blossomed exponentially thanks to Terry’s initiatives. During a tour of the facility, Terry and President Michele Nealon met a former resident carrying a bouquet of flowers. Terry explains: “Michele stopped her and said, ‘Those are so beautiful. Where did you get them?’ She told us she made the arrangements herself and wanted to open her own business. In a moment, Michele turned to me and said, ‘Let’s do a conference for these women.’ And we did. We put on the first ever women’s conference on Skid Row. A day of training and mentoring.” Professionals in the field of psychology donated their time to the trainings, and CEOs from various agencies held round table discussions on ways to ensure programs continue and remain viable. “No one turned down our invitation to participate,” she reveals.
From the beginning, Terry’s positive approach and innovative skills caught the eye of administrators at both the California Graduate Institute during her Psy.M (Master of Psychology) internship when she managed the substance abuse program, and The Chicago School which hired her in 2009. (The two institutions merged in 2008.)
“Dr. Masi has been instrumental in building community partnerships in Los Angeles. She has forged relationships in the community that will go on to ensure we are living our mission and implementing our model of education and training for students,” explains Dr. Nealon.
Terry initially worked at The Chicago School’s counseling center in Westwood, first in the addiction program, then later as assistant director. This was the start of her experience in student training. “I oversaw the first cohort of about 40 students who came to train there,” she says. “I was also tasked with placing students at other training sites.” Some of these included AIDS Project LA, Airport Marina Counseling, Alhambra School District, and Clare Foundation.
As she began placing students in the training agencies, she started developing relationships with the clinical supervisors and directors. “I knew that being a new kid on the block, we were going to have to do a lot more to show them that we were worthy of having our students placed there, since they did not have a history with us here in California,” she explains. “I think that the building of the relationships among the sites has really become the strength of this department.
Campus Dean Dr. Justin Cassity credits Terry with the success in that area. “Terry helped build the infrastructure for field placements that was needed when we started in SoCal. Not only did she create partnerships with new sites, she created new training programs with the Missions in downtown LA. She was our practicum and internship developer, as well as our Community Partnerships person before that position existed in CA. “
In 2013, Terry became the Senior Director of Clinical Training in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, but she remained as hands-on as always, especially when assisting students through difficulties. “One of my clinical training directors had a student placed at an APPIC site [Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers], and she was having problems, so I telephoned the director. He said to me, ‘And what is your position there?’ I said, ‘I am the keeper of relationships.’ That immediately softened the issue, and we were able to move forward from there.” She adds, “We help out whenever we can to make sure our students are getting the experiences that they need in order to become confident in the field.”
Along with earning her Psy.D MFT (Doctor of Psychology in Marriage and Family Therapy) in 2017, she mentions the record breaking 33 agencies that came to the Los Angeles campus earlier this year to speak with students about practicum opportunities. “We’re the only school that has developed an the agency fair for Psy.D and MA students.”
It’s a high note to retire on. And her future plans? Terry says she’ll now concentrate fully on her private practice. “What I absolutely loved about this job is the freedom that I have been given to create. To go in a direction that I felt [The Chicago School] should go in. And to focus on the areas that I focused on. This has been a real blessing.”
She will be missed.
“Dr. Masi leaves behind an admirable legacy that is part infrastructure and part practice; a legacy that will ensure countless numbers of deserving individuals receive quality mental health and behavioral care for years to come,” says Dr. Nealon.
Originally posted on https://forourwellness.org