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GCSW student, Monica Martinez awarded “Best Overall” poster at NASW 2023

Monica Martinez, an MSW student, received the "Best Overall" poster award at the 2023 NASW Texas Conference for their research on decolonizing psychedelic therapy. Martinez emphasizes that winning this award validates the increasing importance of social work in psychedelic treatment, as the field of psychedelic medicine continues to expand.


Monica Martinez (left) along with student poster presentation winners at the NASW Texas Conference 2023. Photo: NASW TX

We spoke with Martinez about this award and the impact they hope to make. 

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Name: Monica Martinez   
Pronouns: she/they  
Program: MSW, Clinical

Congratulations on being awarded Graduate “Best Overall” NASW 2023 poster at the NASW Conference! Tell us about this award and what it meant to you.  

Thank you so much for the congratulations! This award is given to one undergraduate and one graduate social work student for research poster presentation at the conference. Content, design, and elevator speech are the main criterion. This award affirmed that because the field of psychedelic medicine is growing, social work needs in psychedelic treatment are also growing.  

The topic of your poster was Exploring Cultural Equity in Psychedelic Therapy, is this your current research? What inspired you to focus on this?  

I have a deep passion for research to better understand the world around me. Psychedelic therapy treatment and intersectionality is my main research at this time. For example, decolonizing psychedelic therapy. I first became interested in psychedelic therapy in 2018 when I began my undergraduate degree in sociology. 2018 was also the year that Michael Pollan’s, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence” came out.  Now in my MSW, I see how much traction the field has gained... I want the transition of cultural psychedelic medicine to mainstream to be as least problematic as possible. There are many ethical considerations for all industries involved in the medicalization of psychedelics which are yet to be addressed. So much harm has already been caused to Indigenous communities that practice psychedelic medicine because of Western medicalization. I want to explore how I can reduce and eradicate harm in this space.   

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Tell us a little about yourself, and what led you to choose the University of Houston Graduate College of Social work?  

I am a clinical Master of Social Work student working towards psychotherapy practice. I love working directly with clients to help them achieve their mental health and wellness goals. My populations of specialty are BIPOC and/or LGBT adults. I chose the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work for its emphasis on social justice and anti-racism. I wanted an education with these values at the core of curriculum to better serve clients.   

How do you believe the GCSW’s mission aligns with your personal and professional goals?  

 The GCSW mission inspires justice across all dimensions of life. My personal and professional goals ultimately are to create positive change in the world.   

Looking ahead, is there an impact you hope to make? 

I hope to make an impact in the field of clinical psychedelic therapy practice with emphasis on decolonization. I would love to be involved in work to develop decolonization and liberation practices for both the macro and micro levels of psychedelic therapy.