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University of Phoenix leadership join proceedings of 2024 Mediterranean Region Counseling Association Conference

By Michele Mitchum

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Associate Dean, Sheila Babendir, Ed.D., LPC, and Program Chair, Christine Karper, Ph.D., LMHC present on counselor education for a global society

University of Phoenix is pleased to share that College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Associate Dean, Sheila Babendir, Ed.D., LPC, and Program Chair, Christine Karper, Ph.D., LMHC joined the proceedings of the Mediterranean Region Counseling Association Conference held March 14-15, 2024, in Wiesloch, Germany. The theme of the conference was “Promoting Equitable Mental Health Wellness by Uniting and Advocating Worldwide,” and featured more than two dozen presentations from mental health professionals from around the world.

Dr. Babendir and Dr. Karper co-presented the conference session titled “Preparing future counselors to deliver equitable mental health counseling services to a global society,” which focused on understanding and advocating for a more inclusive counselor education experience. Babendir and Karper led the discussion, which examined the components of an [MM1] [CK2] inclusive counselor education experience, along with practical methods for shaping curriculum to support emerging professionals in the field.

"The dedication to fostering compassionate and comprehensive approaches within mental health counseling is something we are very proud of at University of Phoenix," states Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Christina Neider. "Through research and practice, Dr. Sheila Babendir and Dr. Christine Karper continue to champion excellence in education by equipping our future counselors with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate diverse communities with empathy.”

The presentation was part of a two-day annual event sponsored by the Mediterranean Region Counselors Association (MR-CA). The MR-CA is a unified partnership of diverse counseling professionals promoting the shared purpose of developing the counseling professionals to best serve their clients and the community at large. Presenters from around the world joined the event to share their experiences and best practices in the fields of counseling and mental health.

“We are grateful for the chance to lead a discussion exploring avenues for mental health counselors to use a culturally aware and trauma-informed approach to address challenges of inequality in our global society,” shares Babendir. “It is a privilege to do this work and provide critical career skills for counselors so that they can deliver culturally competent mental health and wellness services.” 

Karper also expressed her appreciation for the opportunity, stating, “We were fortunate to contribute to this important focus on diversity and inclusion in global mental health. Promoting this ongoing dialogue is crucial for fostering understanding, sharing insights, and advocating for equitable access to care,” she says. “Conferences such as this provide a platform to amplify marginalized voices, challenge biases, and drive meaningful change toward a more inclusive and supportive mental health landscape worldwide.”

In her current role as Associate Dean, Babendir oversees all aspects of the counseling program including curriculum development, faculty management, programmatic operations and adherence to accreditation standards at University of Phoenix. As a counseling educator, she brings an experiential approach to the classroom, inspiring the next generation of counselors to integrate theory with practical skills.

Babendir holds a Doctor of Education in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University in 2008 and a Master of Science in Counseling Education and Counseling Psychology from University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1995. She has been serving the Arizona community in the capacity of clinician and educator for over 25 years. Babendir is a member of the American Counseling Association, Association for Counselor Education and Supervision and is immediate past president of the Arizona Counseling Association.

Karper holds a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Central Florida. She has been serving the Central Florida Community as a Clinician and a Counselor Educator for over 20 years. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, the Association for Mental Health Counselors and the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision and the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association.

Karper is currently a program chair for the University of Phoenix in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. In her work in academia, she has presented both nationally and internationally and has published articles in several journals in counseling, psychology, assessment, and technology.

Learn more here about University of Phoenix College of Social and Behavioral Science programs.

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