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Meet the Staff

Psychologists

Myrla Seibold, Ph.D.- Associate Director

Dr. Seibold is a licensed psychologist with a background as a professor of psychology. She has a heart for students in higher education, having taught undergraduate and graduate courses, served as Clinical Director of a graduate program in counseling psychology, and worked in university student counseling centers providing clinical services, supervision, consultation, and administration. For a number of years Dr. Seibold was a member of the psychology licensure board in Minnesota, serving as board chair and chairing the committee that handles complaints filed against psychologists. She holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Redlands, M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology (APA-approved program), and has been licensed as a psychologist in four states. Dr. Seibold’s areas of expertise encompass psychotherapy, supervision, and consultation. Her clinical interests include women’s issues, food/body issues, depression, anxiety, family issues, life adjustment concerns, and processing grief and trauma. She loves helping students learn how to overcome troublesome issues in their lives so they can be free to really thrive.


Tania Gonzalez, Ph.D.- Assistant Director, Outreach

Dr. Gonzalez is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who has practiced within the Merced and Fresno community for the last several years. She completed her undergraduate studies at California State University, Hayward where she majored in Psychology with a double minor in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology was earned at the California School of Professional Psychology with a focus in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Forensic studies. During her professional career, she has had the opportunity to train and work with a wide variety of clientele in settings such as group homes, California Youth Authority, Boys and Girls Club, Unified school district, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, community private practice and the Veteran’s Affairs. She has held both management and supervisory positions and has discovered great reward in assisting students, psychological assistants and support staff through their professional and interpersonal growth. Through her own career endeavors, Dr. Gonzalez has gained practical experience and knowledge of issues involving socioeconomic aspects, cultural diversity, diagnostic considerations and treatment modalities. Her clinical practice is influenced by attachment and object relations theory utilizing a psychodynamic approach. She has assisted clients with a variety of concerns including but not limited to: eating disorders, PTSD, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, LGBT, adjustment and grief. She adopts a direct yet empathic approach to her work and is mindful of the unique multi-cultural needs of UC Merced. She strives to incorporate these ideologies while working with students in overcoming challenges to emotional wellness. Currently Dr. Gonzalez is a member of the American Psychological Association and San Joaquin Valley Psychological Association.


Laurel Eichler, Psy.D.- Staff Psychologist

Dr. Eichler is a native of California, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Eichler is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and is a Counseling Psychologist at UC Merced Counseling and Psychological Services. She received her bachelor's degree from Humboldt State University and masters and doctoral degrees from Pacific Graduate School of Psychology-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium. She completed her APA-accredited pre-doctoral clinical internship at the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, Robert J Murney Clinic. Dr. Eichler has worked with adolescents and adults for many years in community mental health centers where she is comfortable working with a wide variety of client concerns. Her areas of clinical interest include: alcohol and substance use and co-occurring disorders, interpersonal difficulties, mood disorders, multicultural/diversity issues, grief/bereavement, spirituality, trauma, and issues that impact undocumented, LGBTQ+, and first-generation college students. Dr. Eichler’s clinical orientation is integrative; she has been trained in and is comfortable working with a variety of treatment approaches including: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Attachment and Object Relations as well as Dialectical Behavior Therapy. She takes a strength based approach when helping students overcome obstacles to their mental health.


Miao Li, Ph.D.- Staff Psychologist

Dr. Li is a Staff Psychologist at University of Merced Counseling and Psychological Services. She is a licensed psychologist in the state of California. Dr. Li received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kentucky. She completed her APA accredited pre-doctoral internship at the University of California, Irvine Counseling Center and then her multicultural postdoctoral residency at San Jose State University Counseling and Psychological Services. During her professional life, Dr. Li has had the opportunity to work with college students in multiple university campuses, adults with severe and persistent mental illness, women struggling with substance abuse issues, and sexual assault survivors and their families. Through working with a wide range of clinical concerns, she found her passion in working with students from diverse backgrounds to support their adjustment and promote their psychological well-being through psychotherapy, outreach and consultation services. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree, she received her B.A. in International Liberal Studies at Waseda University in Japan and her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling at Boston College. Her clinical interests include but not limit to: relationship concerns, adjustment issues, interpersonal difficulties, depression, anxiety, multicultural/diversity issues, acculturation, career counseling, grief/bereavement, trauma, and identity development (e.g. gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, spirituality, etc).

Dr. Li provides individual, couples, and group therapy. She integrates interpersonal process therapy, feminist therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy, all within a multicultural framework. She uses a strength-based approach to understand how the interactions between environmental factors and the intersection of identities contribute uniquely to each individual’s presenting issues. Dr. Li is fluent in English, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. She is a generalist but has specialized training in serving the international student community on campus. Dr. Li has lived in multiple countries throughout her life and has always fascinated with the impact of cultural context on one’s identity. She is also committed to promote social justice on campus through outreach and advocacy activities.


Samuel A. Montano, Ph.D.- Staff Psychologist

Dr. Samuel A. Montano is a Staff Psychologist at UC Merced Counseling & Psychological Services. Dr. Montano is a California licensed Clinical Psychologist who graduated with his doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, Fresno. His previous clinical experiences include working with adults in community mental health clinics, community college districts, substance abuse clinics, and rural forensic settings. He completed an APA accredited pre-doctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the State Center Community College District, working at Fresno City College and Reedley College. Dr. Montano has experience working with a wide range of individuals, presenting problems and psychological disorders. His clinical interests consist of working with relational issues, anxiety, depression, grief/loss, gender issues, LGBTQ issues, cross cultural issues, trauma, and personality disorders. Dr. Montano has received specialty training from the Rockway Institute which led to a certification in LGBT Human Services & Mental Health. In addition, he has received specialty training in suicide prevention and self-harm from the Question Persuade Refer (QPR) Institute. He has also received a curriculum training certificate for domestic violence from Men Stopping Violence and the Georgia Commission of Family Violence. 

Dr. Montano provides individual, couples and group therapy. He primarily utilizes a psychodynamic approach to psychotherapy, but is proficient with a range of interventions to most effectively aid his clients. Moreover, critical to his interventions in psychotherapy is the quality of the treatment alliance and relationship. In addition, when working with clients, Dr. Montano emphasizes listening and validating, so the client feels accepted, heard, and most importantly, understood.


Kamaljit "Sonya" K. Virdi, Ph.D.- Staff Psychologist

Dr. Virdi is a California licensed Counseling Psychologist and is a Staff Psychologist at UC Merced Counseling and Psychological Services. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in Psychology from the College at Brockport, State University of New York, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her past clinical experience includes working with adults with severe and persistent mental illness, adults in community mental health clinics, homeless veterans, and university students. Dr. Virdi completed an APA accredited pre-doctoral psychology internship at Texas A&M University Student Counseling Service, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Sacramento State Counseling and Psychological Services. Her clinical interests include interpersonal difficulties, depression, shame, compassion fatigue, stress and anxiety, multicultural/diversity issues, acculturation, grief/bereavement, spirituality, trauma, and issues that impact international, undocumented, LGBTQ+, and first-generation college students. 

Dr. Virdi provides individual, couples, and group therapy. She uses a multicultural framework that integrates Relational-Cultural Theory, Interpersonal Process, and Emotion-Focused therapy. Her strengths-based approach considers aspects of a student’s individuality, cultural context, and systemic issues. Her primary goal in therapy is to build a genuine therapeutic relationship built on trust, authenticity, transparency, and mutual respect. Dr. Virdi feels passionate about reducing guilt and shame around stigma and help-seeking among underrepresented groups (e.g., racial/ethnic minorities). For this reason, outreach and advocacy are a strong part of her identity as a counseling psychologist.


Jennifer Zizzo, Psy.D. - Staff Psychologist


Support Staff

Aimee Rank- Administrative Assistant III

Aimee Rank is a native of California and grew up in the central valley. Aimee joined the staff at UC Merced Counseling and Psychological Services in 2011. Her main focus is departmental purchasing and management of financial assets for both CAPS, Health Services, and Disability Services as necessary. Additionally Aimee assists with reception; helping clients as they arrive for appointments, making appointments and managing schedules for all staff. Aimee previously worked in customer service and learned to be receptive to all persons through her experiences.


Heather Weigel- Administrative Assistant II

Heather joined the Counseling & Psychological Services Department in 2017. She previously worked at the University of California Merced, Student Health Center beginning in 2014. Heather also has experience with front office responsibilities for various medical practices within the community. Heather is a Certified Nursing Assistant who graduated from Merced College in 2008.