Like many Social Workers in the field, Dr. Lucinda A. Lee Rasmussen began her career to make a difference in the world. She received her BS in Psychology and began her professional career as a psychiatric technician in a geriatric unit at a Utah State Hospital for individuals with severe mental illness. Social Workers at the hospital inspired Dr. Rasmussen to pursue a Masters in Social Work from the University of Utah. This academic endeavor afforded her the opportunity to work in many settings. Dr. Rasmussen worked for Utah’s Child Welfare Services as a foster care worker, and for Utah State Prison as a therapist and case manager. She then joined the outpatient psychiatric clinic at Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Hospital, where she worked for 12 years. She treated children with emotional and behavioral disturbances, abused children and their families, and helped develop a program for children with difficulties with sexual behavior.
After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Utah, she joined SDSU School of Social Work in 1995. Dr. Rasmussen is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at San Diego State University and has taught social work practice classes for over 20 years. She has over 35 years of clinical experience in the field of child sexual abuse, with specific expertise in intervening with children and adolescents with questionable or sexually abusive behaviors (and their families). Her clinical work has also included providing intensive group therapy in San Diego County to adult sex offenders on parole or probation.
Dr. Rasmussen has focused her career on better understanding the needs and barriers of individuals with severe traumatic experiences. Through this lens, she developed the Trauma Outcome Process Assessment (TOPA) model, a practice model for assessing and treating traumatized children, youth and adults. Her research focuses on risk assessment of sexually abusive youth and children with sexual behavior problems, effects of trauma (sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other types of traumatic experiences). Dr. Rasmussen has published several articles in peer reviewed journals on: the TOPA model, risk assessment and recidivism of sexually abusive youth, and play therapy with sexually abused and sexually abusive children. She has presented her work on the TOPA model at national and international conferences in various cities in the United States and in Israel and Mexico.
Dr. Rasmussen has an ongoing research collaboration with Dr. L.C. Miccio-Fonseca, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Researcher, who constructed MEGA♪, an innovative risk assessment tool for sexually abusive youth. She is currently Research Consultant on the MEGA♪ International Project, and has assisted Dr. Miccio-Fonseca, in presenting MEGA♪ certification trainings throughout the United States and internationally (England, Scotland, Ireland). Drs. Rasmussen and Miccio-Fonseca have co-authored several peer reviewed publications on MEGA♪. Dr. Rasmussen recently published the findings of her own independent study applying MEGA♪ to a sample of adjudicated male sexually abusive adolescents in a residential treatment facility.
She enjoys teaching practice classes to graduate students because she can make her classes interactive and relevant to students’ experiences in the field. She encourages students to share from their experience in the field and to apply the practice theories and models that they are learning through real experience. She believes it is extremely important to teach students about problems of abuse and makes it a priority in her classes through open discussion and lecture. Dr. Rasmussen highlights her enthusiasm for teaching at our Imperial Valley (IV) campus. She acknowledges the uniqueness of this border community and the challenges and struggles it endures. She is proud to have taught many of the graduating cohorts at IV and to see many of her students as directors and administrators in their community.
Dr. Rasmussen wants students to look at the difference of who they were at the beginning of the program and who they are now. She wants to encourage every social work student to contribute to the profession by using their professional experience to present at conferences and to develop interventions. She believes that with the right tools and effort every student can go into the scholastic field and become an exemplary professional!
She shares that it is essential to find things that are energizing and that support you as a human being. She highlights the importance of meeting people that do things outside the social work field and contributing to one’s own community. Fun facts about Dr. Rasmussen are that she participates in the Santee Community Chorus and likes to spend time with her dogs Danny Boy, a terrier-mix she adopted from South Bay shelter, and Boo, an English bulldog!
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