Dr. Charissa D. Pizarro is a Bilingual Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Registered Play Therapist with about 20 years of experience working with diverse clinical populations. She has devoted her career to working with the underprivileged and most needy populations. She works in both the public and private sectors not only providing therapeutic services but advocating for and empowering clients so that they eventually feel safe asserting themselves and “having their own voice.” It has been her mission to exert change not only within the individual but within the system, as well. She has done so through the venues of her clinical work, teaching, advocacy, and research.
During the last several years, Dr. Pizarro headed two grant funded child protective services programs, where clinicians go into the home and provide individual, family, couples and/or play therapy for families affected by severe trauma and their children have been removed or may be in jeopardy of being removed from the home by child protective services. Many of the clients in these programs are not only Spanish-speaking but they are often of undocumented immigrant status. Dr. Pizarro, also, has a small private practice where she treats presenting concerns such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and adjustment disorders. She conducts psychological assessments including immigration and bariatric evaluations.
The immigration evaluations are often a determining factor in staying or leaving this country and in maintaining or dissolving a family unit. Aside from her work life, Dr. Pizarro is an avid advocate for immigrant rights and belongs to the APA: Immigration Advocacy Working Group, in Washington DC, the APA Divisions of Social Justice, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social issues, and many other advocacy, policy and social justice organizations for marginalized groups. Dr. Pizarro serves on APA Division 37’s Board of Directors and is the Member at Large for Task Force and Diversity Initiatives. Dr. Pizarro is also a member of several other organizations including the American Psychological Association (APA) and many of its divisions, the NJ Psychological Association, the Latino Mental Health Association of NJ, the Association for Play Therapy, and she serves on the Diversity Committee for the International Association for Sandtray Therapy.
Dr. Pizarro’s efforts extend internationally. In November 2019, Dr. Pizarro was a delegate for the APA in Portugal where a group of Psychologist from all over the U.S. and other parts of the world convened to discuss several important Psychology topics including immigration, Psychological trauma, maternal mental health, addiction, and aging populations. Discussion of these topics was with the hopes that the delegates could collaborate to find solutions for issues raised as well as learn from each other on policies and procedures which are working well in any one delegates’ country. Dr. Pizarro is also Postpartum Support International’s Volunteer Coordinator for the Dominican Republic. Dr. Pizarro was the recipient of APA’s Division 37 the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice: Section on Child Maltreatment Early Career Award 2020 and the JetBlue Healthcare Heroes- Lifting our Heroes Award. Dr. Pizarro was also chosen by the NJ Psychological Association as the National Human Rights Member Spotlight. This honor is a testament to her unwavering dedication to equity and social justice for all human beings.