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Division of Student Affairs

Meet the Staff

Counseling Services Staff

Tania Gonzalez, Ph.D.

She/Her

Director

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 rewards 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 the San Joaquin Valley Psychological Association.


Rebecca Benedict, Psy.D.

She/Her

Associate Director

Dr. Benedict joined the UC Merced CAPS team in January 2022. She is a licensed psychologist and has focused her clinical practice on psychological assessment and management of acute psychiatric distress, as well as training and mentoring clinical staff. She completed her undergraduate studies at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, and earned her graduate degree from Argosy University, Bay Area.  She has provided care to a diverse population across settings including corrections, county mental health, inpatient programs and emergency services. Much of her experience has been fulfilling both clinical and administrative roles in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, at the inpatient level of care. Dr. Benedict has experience assisting people work through mood disturbance, interpersonal stressors, bereavement, trauma, LGBTQ+ issues, multicultural issues, and substance misuse. She utilizes a psychodynamic framework in conceptualization and develops interventions based on client-needs, often drawing from Cognitive Behavioral, Dialectical Behavioral, Positive, and Narrative therapies.


Chad Burgdorff, MD

Staff Psychiatrist

Dr. Burgdorff joined the Student Health Service during the 2017-2018 academic year. He is board-certified in psychiatry and received his degree (M.D.) from Loma Linda University in 2003. Dr. Burgdorff has particular interests in PTSD, addictions, mood, and anxiety disorders.  In addition to working with UC Merced Students, he enjoys teaching neuroscience and physiology to medical students (Loma Linda University).  Dr. Burgdorff is also trained in Aerospace Medicine and works with pilots and the FAA with a focus on mental health in aviation. In addition to flying, Chad’s hobbies include hiking and outdoor recreation.


Laurel Ealy, Psy.D.

She/Her

Staff Psychologist, Clinical Training Coordinator 

Dr. Ealy is a native of California and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her bachelor's degree from Humboldt State University and master's 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. Ealy 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. Ealy’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.


William Johnson, Ph.D

He/Him

Staff Psychologist

Dr. Johnson is a native of California, and grew up in Paso Robles, CA but has traveled the world. He received his bachelor's degree from Seattle University and master's and doctoral degrees from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He completed an APA-accredited pre-doctoral clinical internship at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. He received a post-doctoral master's degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology from Alliant University, San Diego, CA. Dr.

Johnson was in the Navy for 34 years and his clinic work focused on PTSD related to combat and sexual assault, anxiety disorders, grief, Sleep/insomnia disorders, and psychological factors related to medical disorders. Dr. Johnson’s clinical orientation is integrative; he has been trained in and is comfortable working with a variety of treatment approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused Treatment (Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Image Rehearsal Therapy for Nightmares, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He takes a solution-focused approach when helping students overcome obstacles to their mental health.


Julie Ray

She/Her

Staff Counselor

Julie Ray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working as a Staff Counselor with UC Merced Counseling and Psychological Services. She received her bachelor's degree from Arizona State University in Child and Family Studies and a master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Counseling and Professional Clinical Counseling from Brandman University.  Julie has worked in various settings including a youth crisis shelter and community mental health serving a diverse population with various backgrounds including underserved populations. This has provided insight into various presenting issues that students may be facing including anxiety, depression, adjustment challenges interpersonal difficulties, mood disorders, bereavement, issues impacting undocumented, LGBTQ+, and first generation-college students, multicultural/diversity issues, crisis intervention, and trauma. She uses an integrated therapy approach based upon each student’s needs including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Positive Psychology, Narrative Therapy, strength-based approaches, Motivational Interviewing, and trauma-informed practices. Julie works to provide a safe and non-judgmental environment where one can be yourself and work towards identified goals


Cindy Salcedo, LCSW, PPS

Staff Counselor

Cindy Salcedo is a CA Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a native of Southern California. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Cindy received her bachelor's degree in Human Services from California State University, Fullerton, and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Cindy has had extensive multicultural clinical experiences in a variety of settings which include providing mental health services to children and adolescents in schools, juvenile correctional facilities, and individuals in community mental health clinics. Her clinical training has provided in-depth experience working with depression, anxiety, substance use, multicultural/diversity issues, LGBTQ+, first-generation college students, life transitions, bereavement, and trauma. Cindy’s approach to therapy is integrative and client-centered, drawing on Psychodynamic, Relational, Cognitive-Behavioral, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Mindfulness-based therapies. Cindy believes in the importance of providing an authentic, genuine, culturally sensitive, nonjudgmental space for her clients.

 


Tamara Isaac-Cooksey, LMFT

Staff Counselor

Tamara Isaac Cooksey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working as a Staff Counselor with UC Merced Counseling and Psychological Services. Tamara received her bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno in Psychology with a minor in Ethnic Studies as well as a certification in Victimology. Tamara possesses a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Oaks University in Pasadena, California.

Local clinical experiences include Merced Behavioral Community Mental Health, Merced Counties local Trauma/Crisis center for advocacy & forensic exam support. In her more than 15 years of experience in social services Tamara has worked as a foster care social worker in Los Angeles County as well as Sexual assault/Domestic violence Counselor in East Los Angeles & Compton, California. Tamara also served as a State of Georgia ongoing CPS case worker in Metro Atlanta.

Tamara works primarily from a client centered perspective and uses Narrative therapy as her preferred therapeutic approach. Tamara is eclectic and utilizes a host of modalities’ including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), expressive art, play, and sand tray therapies. Tamara works to provide an empathetic environment that is encompassing to all. Tamara says “let’s find your path.”


Harvey Zhang, M.A.

He/Him 

Psychological Intern

Harvey was born in Los Angeles and moved around the United States before finally settling in Fresno, CA. He received his bachelor’s in psychology at the University of California Riverside and began graduate school in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology Fresno. Currently, he is a fourth-year student in the Psy. D. program and has had experience working at the Gary Cannon Psychological Service Center as a student clinician. Harvey has also led CBT groups at the Bob Wiley Detention Center and the Juvenile Detention Facility in Visalia, CA. He has been at UC Merced for one year as a practicum student and is now an Intern at Caps. He works primarily from a client center perspective but also uses motivational interviewing and solution-focused. Harvey is interested in working with students who face generational conflicts regarding their future academic and career goals. He is also interested in working with first-generation college students who face familial and societal pressures to succeed. Harvey is fluent in both English and Mandarin Chinese.  


 

Grace Abear, M.S., AMFT, APCC

She/Her

Psychological Trainee

Grace is an international student from the Philippines. She is fluent in English, Tagalog, and Bisaya. Currently, she is a Clinical Psychology doctoral candidate at the California School of Professional Psychology. She has an M.S. in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, from CSU, Sacramento. She is a registered associate marriage and family therapist and professional clinical counselor with the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences. Her dissertation is about mental health providers’ case conceptualization of intimate partner violence strangulation in heterosexual and gay relationships.

Grace’s clinical experience includes providing psychotherapy and administering assessments in community mental health clinics, such as the UC Davis Early Psychosis Program and the 22q11.2 Research Center and Clinic. She also provided therapy to community day school students with academic challenges and mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, conduct disorder, etc.

Grace adopts a client-centered theoretical orientation. Also, she uses various therapy approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), family-focused therapy (FFT), and expressive art, play, and sand tray therapies. She adapts her treatment modalities to fit the cultural context of her clients.


JoAnn Martinez

She/Her

Administrative Assistant