Friendmobile Hires Bilingual Counselor to Serve Community

Friendmobile Hires Bilingual Counselor to Serve Community
Professor Felicia Thomas works with two children on their homework.

Cal Poly Pomona's Friendmobile, which offers psychological health services and homework tutoring to low-income children, has hired a Spanish speaking counselor for the 2009-10 academic year.

Psychology professor Lori Barker says a bilingual counselor will have a positive impact in Pomona's Latino community. “I have limited Spanish language skills. In the past we had to turn people away because of communication problems, but now we can bring more services to those who need it.” She, with professor Felicia Thomas, counsel children and oversee the Friendmobile's operations.

Bilingual counselors are in great demand according to Dalia Pimentel, the Friendmobile's new counselor.

“Clients may feel uncomfortable bringing a translator because of confidentiality issues and information that can be lost in translation,” she says.

Children may have better English skills than their parents. When parents need counseling for their children, it is crucial for them to understand counseling procedures and their rights as clients.

“When a therapist and client share cultures, especially language, it creates a better first meeting and this improves the therapeutic relationship.”  says Pimental, whose internship is part of her doctoral program in community clinical psychology at the University of La Verne.  

“The Friendmobile helps children who struggle with learning disabilities, behavioral/emotional problems or family difficulties,” Barker says, “We are able to provide the proper psychological care for families who otherwise cannot afford it.”

According to the University of Missouri study “Mental Health Challenges of Low Income Families,” parents who are unemployed may suffer from depression and anxiety. In turn, their children may have trouble with school work, social skills and have a greater risk for mental health problems as they grow older.

Also, the study found a relationship between people with low incomes and the likelihood that they would not seek mental health services because of language barriers, cost, being uninsured, transportation problems, cultural differences and stigma.

“Many families are going through difficult times and have problems that require professional assistance,” says Barker. “The Friendmobile is trying to fill that need in the community.”

Tutoring at the Friendmobile is available on a walk-in basis Wednesday and Thursday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Counseling sessions are made by appointment only.  For more information, call the Friendmobile at (909) 957-7818, or contact Lori Barker at or Felicia Thomas at