Deborah Ribera, LMFT, Ph.D.

Charter College of Education
Special Education and Counseling - EDSC
Office Location: KH C1031
Phone: (323) 343-4400 Email: [email protected]


Deborah Ribera is a full time Assistant Professor with the School-Based Family Counseling (SBFC) program at Cal State LA, a master's degree program that integrates marriage and family therapy training with school counseling credential training. She is a proud alumna of the SBFC program and earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of San Diego as well as a doctorate in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University.

Dr. Ribera is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California and holds a Pupil Personnel Services credential with advanced authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance. She has previously worked as a dropout prevention counselor and socio-emotional counselor in various school settings and has provided in-home counseling services to children and families who were victims of crime. She currently works with Five Keys Schools and Programs to provide educationally related mental health services to special education high school students at Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center and at Pitchess Detention Facility.

As founder and CEO of the educational nonprofit organization Beyond the Block, Dr. Ribera has written, produced, and directed three educational travel documentaries, using these videos as the cornerstone of a global awareness curriculum based on critical, anti-racist pedagogy and cultural theory. She teaches this curriculum at urban middle and high schools with a high percentage of students at-risk of school dropout. 

As an educator, counselor, and nonprofit professional, Dr. Ribera is passionate and positive about our ability to create a more just world through individual development and systemic change. She believes that a commitment to radical self-care is an ethical mandate in this field and incorporates mindfulness practices into her therapeutic practice and everyday life.


Dr. Ribera has previously taught classes in Personal Development, Ethnic Studies, and Cultural Pluralism. Her courses in the Special Education and Counseling department at Cal State LA include:

Undergraduate Courses

Disability in Contemporary Society

Introduction to Mental Health

Masters Courses

Multicultural Counseling

Human Sexuality

Diagnosis and Treatment in Clinical Counseling

Group Counseling 

Individual Counseling Strategies

Family Counseling Lab

Fieldwork Supervision in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance

Doctoral Courses

Exploring Teaching, Learning & Leadership for Urban Education Using Qualitative Research

Research Interests

Dr. Ribera's research interests reflect the interdisciplinarity of the School-Based Family Counseling field. Broadly, she draws from the fields of cultural studies, education, and counseling in order to examine and interrogate the material consequences of affective exchange in various locations: intrinsic, interpersonal, institutional, and via media. Specifically, she conducts research aimed at understanding the impact diversity education has on students of color at risk of school dropout. She is also interested in how prevention programming is conceptualized and utilized in K-12 urban public schools and relatedly, how school-based family counselors can contribute to creating more culturally responsive school climates.



Gerrard, B., Carter, M. & Ribera, D. (Eds.). (2019). School-based family counseling: An interdisciplinary practitioner’s guide. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ribera, D. (Proposal under review). The Conscious Traveler: A Guided Critical Inquiry for Students of the World. Submitted to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, September 2019.

Peer-reviewed Articles

Tipton, L., Saeki, E., Hernandez, E., Ribera, D., Pebdani, R. (revise and resubmit). Evaluation of a three-hour cross disciplinary internship site-supervisor training session. Journal of Counseling Supervision.

Ribera, D. (2018). From Hierarchical Power Structures to Rhizomatic Possibilities: An Argument for Affective Systems in US Public Schools. American Journal of Educational Research, 6(6), 735–740.

Ribera, D. (2018). (Re)presenting the subject: A critical reflection on the use of ethnographic video with students of colour in K-12 urban school settings. Ethnography and Education.

Ribera, D. (2017). The discourse of school dropout: Re-centering the perceptions of school-based service providers. International Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Educational Research, 16(6), 1-17.

Book Reviews

Ribera, D. (2018). Review of Disrupting Gendered Pedagogies in the Early Childhood Classroom by April Larremore. Education Review.

Web-based Publications

Ribera, D. (2019). Supplementary video materials for School-based family counseling: An interdisciplinary practitioner’s guide. Hosted at:

Ribera, D. (2019). Beyond the Block online curriculum:

Documentary Video Production

Ribera, D. (2016). Nulato, Alaska: Preserving Tradition by Creating Sustainable Futures. Documentary video.

Ribera, D. (2013). Beyond the Block: Haiti. Documentary video.

Ribera, D. (2012). Beyond the Block: Serbia and Bosnia. Documentary video.

Ribera, D. (2012). Love and Grace Haiti. Documentary video.

Ribera, D. (2010). Beyond the Block: The Dominican Republic. Documentary video.

Ribera, D. (2010). A Mother's Wish: Pequeños Pasitos. Documentary video.

Conference Presentations

Ribera, D. (April, 2018). Mindfulness-based Whiteness: (Re)centering multiethnic and indigenous perspectives in the Western wellness movement. Paper presentation at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Indianapolis, IN.

Ribera, D. (October, 2017). Diversity Education for All: Using Documentary Media and Ethical Pedagogy with Urban Students of Color At Risk of School Dropout. Paper presentation at the 2017 National Dropout Prevention Network Conference. Palm Springs, CA.

Ribera, D., Carter, M. (March, 2017). Social Justice and State Advocacy in Counseling. Workshop presentation at the Trauma-Informed Practices Symposium at Cal State LA. Los Angeles, CA.

Ribera, D. (March, 2017). Diversity Education for All Students: Using Documentary Media to Develop Cultural Identity. Workshop Presentation at the Cal State LA Mental and Behavioral Health Conference. Los Angeles, CA.

Ribera, D. (April, 2017). Silver Linings Pedagogy: Exploring the Use of Feature Film Depictions of Mental Illness at a Hispanic Serving Institution. Paper presentation at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. San Diego, CA.

Ribera, D. (April, 2015). (Re)presentation: An Affective Exploration of Encounters in Documentary Film Production. Paper presentation at UCSB Media Fields Conference. Santa Barbara, CA, April 2015.

Ribera, D. (April, 2014). Decoding Larry Stylinson: The Politicization of the One Direction Fandom. Paper presentation at Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Chicago, IL.

Ribera, D. (May, 2013). Beyond the Block: Ethical Issues in the Use of Documentary Films as Method and Product. Paper presentation at The Ninth International Conference of Qualitative Inquiry. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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