Bringing passion and change to counseling and forensic psychology
Kini Chang, MA, counseling and forensic psychology (CPSY) program director, joined HNU in 2018 as a CPSY faculty member and field placement administrator. She was promoted to her current position as program director in May, 2021. Kini is a licensed marriage & family therapist and has over 15 years of counseling experience working with diverse populations. She is an active artist and dancer and finds creative expression to be a platform for deep healing. Kini also has a private practice where she runs international wellness retreats and specializes in intergenerational trauma healing. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Riverside in sociology and law, and her master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of San Francisco.
What drew you to working in the field of counseling and forensic psychology?
For me, counseling and therapy is more of a calling than anything else. It’s always been a part of me, whether that’s because people gravitate towards me as a person they can trust or because of the experiences I had growing up in an urban environment. My expertise is in trauma, particularly intergenerational trauma; it’s something that needs to be addressed because it’s everywhere, yet no one is talking about it. My main goal is to do healing work in the world and create change in the forensic and criminal justice system.
What made you choose to be a part of HNU’s faculty?
I chose HNU because of its diversity and mission. I wanted to have the opportunity to be a part of a multicultural community and create accessible therapy for all individuals.
Counseling and forensic psychology is one of HNU’s most popular programs—as a new program director, what is it like leading the program?
I’ve been a part of the CPSY program, in multiple roles, for three and a half years. Through the years, I’ve seen the changes, growth, and struggles. I learned directly from students and faculty about what they want to see more of in the program. Their feedback has helped me step into my role with compassion and understanding. One of the primary roles as a leader is to have people around you who not only support you, but also champion the mission of the program. We have a really fantastic team and I’m so grateful for them.
What do you enjoy most about your work at HNU?
I have a deep affinity to Oakland and this community. There’s something about being somewhere that you love that brings an energy and passion to your work. Every single person that I’ve come in contact with, whether that’s faculty or staff, really wants to be at HNU. You can feel the love they have for the University. There’s this mutual support of one another on campus, and it speaks a lot to HNU’s value of community.
What are your hopes for the program’s future?
I hope to continue to strengthen and cultivate our forensic psychology program by building long lasting community partnerships. I hope to integrate more technology-forward learning opportunities; for example, we’ve been looking at augmented reality as a way to address phobias. The field of therapy is changing, and we need to make sure our students are prepared for these changes. We want to grow the program in a sustainable way where we’re able to offer our students a high quality of education, care, and one-on-one mentorship, while also reaching more students and more communities.
What would you like community members to know about your program?
Within our program, we are able to offer students a space that addresses the question: what really matters? Because of the pandemic, many people have realized how important mental health is, and these students are able to be a part of the change to make things better in the world.