Kimberly R. Freeman, PhD, MSW
Current Roles in the School of Behavioral Health
Executive Associate Chair, Social Work & Social Ecology
Program Director, Master of Social Work
Associate Professor, Social Work & Social Ecology
PhD, Clinical Psychology - Loma Linda University, 1999
Master of Social Work - Loma Linda University, 2004
Licensed Psychologist, State of California, 2001
Phone (909) 379-7589, Fax (909) 379-7594
Department of Social Work & Social Ecology, Office 209
Loma Linda University
1898 Business Center Drive
San Bernardino, CA 92408
What area represents your primary professional passion?
My passion has been working with young children. I’ve had the opportunity to do that here at Loma Linda in a number of different settings. More specifically, my areas of research and academic focus include pediatric psychology, child mental health, and research methodology. Early on in my career, I was more focused on pediatrics and the intersect between mental health and medicine. More recently, this has expanded into more of the mental health field with more emphasis on a global focus.
How were you led into your specialty?
I was late in coming to school. I didn’t start college right after high school, as I had a daughter and I was working in the managerial field. But, I have always had a desire to work with children, and so, originally I went to school to become certified to open a daycare. And then, it was never enough. The education was never enough. The original certification program I enrolled in was only 12 units, so I just kept going to complete my bachelors. I just fell in love with Behavioral Health, with the field of Psychology, and reaching out to others. I started doing some volunteer work and decided to go on to graduate school. This all grew out of a love for working with children, and Loma Linda was the perfect setting for this, with the Medical Center being so close in proximity to the University. It was a really good fit.
What research are you currently engaged in?
My current primary research focus is using dialectical behavioral therapy in treating children who self-harm, whether it’s suicidal intent or non-suicidal self-harm, such as cutting. A lot of research has and continues to be conducted in this area and the hope is that this will expand into a clinical practice at the Behavioral Health Institute. So far, it’s been limited to one program at the Behavioral Medicine Center, with an intensive outpatient program, but there’s a lot of utilization of services that need to happen on a purely outpatient basis, without the intensive services. We’re hoping that we can reach a lot of children with this therapy. The particular treatment modalities that we’re using have expanded to a number of different problems (i.e. ADHD, behavioral aggression problems, children that self-harm). We’re hoping to open up a clinic at the BHI to meet the behavioral health services in a clinical way, but in addition, to continue to do research to inform and improve the practice.
How does your professional passion carry over into your role as faculty?
Last year, we added the 1st official psychology intern at the Behavioral Health Institute. This year we have the 1st official post-doctoral fellow at the Behavioral Health Institute. Advancing and promoting students’ education in the area of evidence-based practice and in research is also a big passion of mine. I love supervising students and working with them to hone in their skills, especially if they’re interested in working with the child population. I definitely have a desire for students to get a high-quality education. I really try to keep myself updated and trained in the most relevant treatments available. I just attended an intensive 2-week training on DBT so that I can bring that knowledge to students, in order that students can enter the field exactly where the field is at and where the field is going. Also, I believe it’s important to provide students with high-quality supervision, so that they have real, measurable skills when they come out of our programs. In addition, I think another aspect is giving students a global focus, keeping in mind the mission of the University, and providing them with opportunities to travel and see how behavioral health is conducted in other parts of the world and having the opportunity to engage in practice.
What experiences outside of academics allow you to demonstrate a passion for service?
I’ve been a member of the trauma team for over ten years. I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to the trauma team, primarily in the area of children, providing training and services in the areas that reach-out to children. When a disaster or trauma occurs, children are in some ways forgotten and people forget how much children are affected by these events, because the parents are so focused on getting primary needs met and trying to recover from the disaster. One of the things I’m really proud of the trauma team for doing is that, initially, the trauma team was being used as a responder, which we still do if we’re asked. However, we’re now starting to move more to a model of training the trainers in different countries to help them develop their own trauma teams, so that when a disasters happen in their country they’re able to meet the needs of their own people, within their own culture, in their own setting. This is very empowering to them because they then have something that they can do, a way that they can contribute, to help address the needs. It’s a model that seems to really be working and the people we’ve worked with thus far have really liked it because they really want to feel like they’re equipped to do what needs to be done to assist their society.
What are the benefits in students being involved with international mission work?
International mission trips bring students out of their shell, out of their comfort zone. These trips really make students feel like they’re a part of the process. They have the opportunity to engage and be involved with things in a different way when traveling to other parts of the world. They get to see faculty in action and get the other opportunity to work with different disciplines, working alongside students and faculty alike. It changes and affects a students’ development in ways that you can’t experience unless you’re a part of this type of work. Even our poor here in the United States are wealthier than most people around the world, so these trips also provide a perspective shift. In other parts of the world, you may see more emphasis put on community and relationships, while you might see more emphasis placed on material objects here in the states. Learning is bidirectional all the time in global settings. I think the Trauma Team’s work is also very close to my heart, having been involved with the team for over a decade. Those experiences are very enriching, and they’re really difficult at times, but the personal exchange when you’re involved with this kind of work, the give and take, is really rewarding.
What brings you the most satisfaction in your work? What brings you the most joy in life?
I think what gives me the most satisfaction in my work is working with the students, because I know that they’re going to be the ones to go out into the world and do the work and provide the services that people need. Ensuring that my students are well-trained and have the competencies needed to go out and do the work. There’s great satisfaction in that knowledge. I get tremendous joy from my family, my spirituality, my work and my friends. They all bring me joy.
What advice would you give to a student who's considering coming to Loma Linda University to continue their education?
If you’re looking to be a part of something bigger than just a school, and you have a mission-focused quality about you, where you have a passionate feel about your spirituality and serving others, and wanting to build on that, then I think this is definitely the school for you. Attending Loma Linda will provide you with so much more than just a degree. It will give you a passion and a mission for what you want to do in life.