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Hathaway-Sycamores’ Dr. Andrea Letamendi (a.k.a. Batgirl’s Psychologist) will be Among the Featured Speakers at Upcoming TEDxUCLA Event

Published on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 | 11:31 am

On Saturday, May 30, Andrea Letamendi, Ph.D., will take to the stage of UCLA’s Carnesale Commons and likely present one of the most “Beyond the Box” talks of this year’s TEDxUCLA event which is themed – appropriately – “Beyond the Box.”

While all of the speakers at this fourth-annual TEDxUCLA – which is an offshoot of the globally acclaimed TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conferences – have forged successful careers by seeing past conventional limitations, only Dr. Letamendi can lay claim to being Batgirl’s psychologist.

If proof is requested, this one-time UCLA postdoctoral scholar need only point to DC Comics’ issues 16 and 20 of Batgirl. It is in these issues that writer Gail Simone – who had asked Dr. Letamendi for advice regarding what a relationship between Batgirl and a mental-health professional should look like – went on to name and style said mental-health professional after Dr. Letamendi.

In real life, Dr. Letamendi is a highly accomplished psychologist who currently serves as assistant director of Clinical Training at Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services – a leading children’s mental health and welfare agency that annually provides therapeutic and other vital support services to thousands of Southern-California children, youth, young adults, and families facing serious life challenges. Dr. Letamendi – who earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, San Diego – is looked to for her wide-ranging expertise, including: multicultural diversity; the prevention as well as treatment of childhood maltreatment and trauma; interventions for bullying as well as cyber-bullying; and psychological resiliency.

At the upcoming TEDxUCLA, Dr. Letamendi will merge her professional expertise and personal passion by exploring the intersection of psychological science and comic-book narratives. She will share how superheroes taught her to: embrace her uniqueness; find her bravery; and to embrace her authentic “geeky” psychologist self. Similarly, audience members will learn how to remove figurative masks, express their fandom, and embrace their authentic selves.

As a child growing up in the Santa Clarita Valley, Dr. Letamendi developed a devotion to superheroes and villains – a devotion that continued to grow over the years. Although Dr. Letamendi attended sci-fi and comic conventions in her off time, she hid her hobby from colleagues, assuming that they would no longer respect her professionally. Leading this double life eventually took its toll, and Dr. Letamendi decided to unify her personal and professional passions by launching a blog – Under the Mask – which would focus on exploring superheroes and villains through the lens of a psychologist. Dr. Letamendi used her real name, and – not surprisingly – colleagues soon discovered her other side. Their reaction, however, was surprising; her colleagues showered her with support.

Since then, in addition to the important role that she plays at Hathaway-Sycamores, Dr. Letamendi is a frequently requested commentator and speaker on subjects related to superhero psychology and its application to mere mortals and their real-life problems. As Dr. Letamendi has been quoted as saying, “Yes, they are fictional characters, but we can learn from their stories, and learn from their recovery. We can all relate.”

Although TEDxUCLA tickets for the main room in which Dr. Letamendi’s presentation and others will take place are sold out, UCLA is offering seating in adjacent rooms where the presentations will be streamed live. Tickets for these screening rooms are available at the UCLA Central Ticket Office or by calling (310) 825-2101.

About Hathaway-Sycamores:

Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services is a highly respected mental health and welfare agency with 11 locations throughout Southern California. For over 112 years, we have been dedicated to nurturing hope, healing, and the opportunity to thrive for children, youth, young adults, and families facing serious life challenges. Hathaway-Sycamores’ comprehensive array of programs and services – which touch more than 7,000 lives annually – include: residential treatment; foster care and adoption; transitional living assistance for emancipated foster youth; outpatient and school-based mental health services; wraparound/in-home services; psychiatric services; psychological testing; grief counseling; a nonpublic school; and afterschool tutoring/enrichment. Accredited by The Joint Commission and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Hathaway-Sycamores is licensed by the Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services and is certified by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. To learn more, visit



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