Featured Trainee:   Melissa Munoz, MA

Melissa is currently completing my doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. I am also a graduate research assistant with the MizZzou Sleep Lab with Dr. Christina McCrae implementing a CBT-I family-based intervention to children with Autism, and is implementing a CBT-I intervention for individuals with chronic widespread pain.

How did you get interested in BSM?

My introduction to BSM is very happenstance. About a year ago, I was doing clinical work with children, adolescents, and their families and was approached with the opportunity to work with Dr. Christina McCrae to become a CBT-I sleep interventionist for project RECHArge (Better Rest for Children with Autism). At the time, I knew that sleep came as a secondary mental health concern in therapy, however, I had no idea there were sleep treatments dedicated to insomnia. It was interesting interacting with families who would make the 2-hour drive from their homes each week to help their child sleep better. After implementing some basic behavioral sleep principles, such as resetting their “brain clock,” I saw defiant behaviors of some children suddenly become well-behaved. It was wonderful to see how this intervention had a positive impact on the entire family’s well-being. The dedication of the parents combined with the power of CBT-I propelled me to help others achieve better sleep.

What experiences have helped shape your training in BSM?

Dr. McCrae has been a wonderful mentor in introducing me to the world of BSM. She has helped me understand the basics of CBT-I in different populations. In addition to RECHArge, she has also expanded my knowledge of CBT-I to individuals with chronic widespread pain and insomnia. Working with an adult population has given me a different perspective on how sleep changes one’s physiology throughout their lifespan. As a part of the study, we are collecting neuroimaging data to determine how it affects brain activity; this in turn has given me more insight to the impact of integrative care.

What is your dream job?

After graduation, it is my goal to become a bilingual licensed psychologist. I want to work with children, adolescents, and families from multicultural backgrounds to provide evidenced-based and culturally sensitive therapy and assessments. I would love to implement CBT-I interventions in Spanish for Latino families.

What are your favorite things to do away from the office?

Missouri has brought out the athletic side of me! There are tons of trails to run on and I have recently become more involved in finding the beauty of strength while doing Crossfit and hot yoga.