Apr 13, 2024

Celebrating Dr. Martha Bernal

This Doodle’s Key Themes

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About Dr. Martha Bernal

About the Celebrating Dr. Martha Bernal Doodle

A word from the Bernal Estate

Special thanks to Martha Bernal’s estate, for their collaboration on this project. Below her sister Ysaura and a psychologist who trained using Martha’s Chicano psychologist training methods share their thoughts on Martha Bernal’s legacy.

Our family is very grateful for the honor of our sister being featured in a Google Doodle on what would have been her 93 rd birthday. We are very proud of the ground-breaking research she did around developing pioneering approaches to the psychological treatment of ethnic minorities that are now required in clinical psychology courses. Martha’s introduction into academia of methods and procedures for the recruitment and training of ethnic minority psychologists has had important and long-lasting effects.

Through accounts that she shared with us, we came to understand the racism and sexism she experienced as an academic. Several anecdotes stand out including Martha being interviewed for a position at a university and was asked by the chair of the search committee, “How did you rise above your Mexican heritage?” as though one needed somehow to transcend that heritage. Her response was swift, “I rose because of my Mexican heritage.” She wasn’t offered the position, though I don’t think she would have taken it had it been offered. 

Martha’s legacy is tied to her work with children and she had a special connection with the children in her personal life. I was 13 years younger than Martha and she helped raise me alongside my parents Alicia Enríquez and Manuel Bernal. She was also a very involved aunt to my children taking them on adventurous trips in the West. She inspired my children to express themselves through art, passing along her love for dancing, drawing, sculpting, carving, and more. She had a large collection of Native American paintings, one of which she gave my daughter. Her devotion to the ethnic arts surely led to her dedication to the psychology of ethnicity in her academic work, by which she hoped to promote strong and healthy identities among U.S. minorities. All of this was decades before an understanding of the importance of these identities arose in the national consciousness.

Martha also took special interest in discrimination against the gay community of which she was a part of. She and my daughter, who worked for the AIDS project in Santa Cruz, discussed issues facing gay youth, including mental health and suicide rates (especially among people of color). 

Martha was fun-loving, artistic, and a committed and courageous clinical psychologist. Many thanks for featuring my sister in today’s Google Doodle.


Ysaura Bernal-Enríquez

In a time of human rights turmoil, it is essential to learn and thank those who created paths for the Mexican community in Psychology. Today and always, Xicana Psychotherapists are grateful for Martha Bernal and her commitment to ensure a seat at the table for future generations. Having diverse voices in Psychology is an essential evolution to the craft that allows for new humanistic approaches to healthcare. Revolutionary Psychotherapists must hold her values and teachings close to heart and give our life’s work to continuing her legacy of social justice.

-Jennifer Morales, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Where this Doodle appeared

The Doodle Celebrating Dr. Martha Bernal launched Apr 13, 2024

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