Oscar Widales-Benitez, PhD - MMHPI - Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

Oscar Widales-Benitez, PhD

Senior Clinical Implementation Specialist, Trauma and Grief Center at The Hackett Center for Mental Health

Oscar is a bilingual (English/Spanish) licensed psychologist and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist who has specialized in providing culturally responsive, evidence-based services for traumatized and bereaved youth. Oscar’s interest in culturally responsive services stems from both personal and professional experiences. Born in Mexico and raised in the border city of Laredo, Texas, Oscar has a passion for serving and advocating for Latinx and immigrant children, teens, and families. He started his career serving youth as a high school mathematics teacher in Laredo, which sparked his interest in school-based mental health as well as the intersection of culture and mental health and led him to pursue graduate training in child and adolescent psychology. Prior to joining the Trauma and Grief Center, he served as an Assistant Professor/Pediatric Psychologist with The University of Texas Dell Medical School and Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin. There, Oscar provided outpatient and telehealth intervention, assessment, and consultation services to families and school-based providers in Central Texas. He also led research efforts through the Texas Childhood Trauma Research Network (TX-CTRN) as part of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium and helped train future psychologists.

Oscar has received specialized training in evidence-based trauma- and grief-informed assessment and intervention and is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) as well as Trauma and Grief Component Therapy. Oscar’s research interests include understanding risk and protective factors impacting the psychological functioning of traumatized and bereaved Latinx and LGBTQ+ youth, the development and validation of culturally responsive assessment and intervention services, and the intersection between culture and mental health, particularly related to acculturative stress among recent Latinx immigrants. In his role at the Trauma and Grief Center, Oscar will be assisting with the TAG Center’s response to the Uvalde tragedy, providing trainings to school- and community-based clinicians as well as educators and school staff in trauma- and grief-related topics, and expanding the TAG Center’s reach to other Spanish-speaking communities.

Oscar earned his BA in Mathematics from Texas A&M International University, his M.Ed. in School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his PhD in School Psychology from Texas A&M University. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at the University of California, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles (CHLA) with an emphasis on trauma psychology (Project Heal), and a postdoctoral fellowship in outpatient psychology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Medical Center Dallas.