Nikki Watkins

Job Title

  • Adjunct Professor
    Marital & Family Therapy (M.A.) Bethel Seminary


Dr. Watkins has over 12 years of experience providing individual, couples, and family therapy in a variety of settings. Currently she serves as the Assistant Director/Lead Clinician at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD where she leads a staff of four clinicians and a case manager in providing mental health care to Post 9/11 vets, their family members, and the family members of active duty service members. She has extensive experience providing counseling services to homeless individuals through her work with the San Diego Rescue Mission. She also has a background in community mental health, with a focus on the parole and probation populations. Dr. Watkins specializes in grief counseling, with a special interest in pregnancy and infant loss. She facilitates GriefShare at EastLake Church, and owns Maple Leaf Counseling Services.

Started at Bethel



  • Southern California Seminary - PsyD, 2015
  • Southern California Seminary - MA Counseling Psychology, 2008
  • Southern California Seminary - MA Religious Studies, 2009
  • San Diego State University - BA Journalism, 1995


Dr. Watkins has been a resident of San Diego County for 26 years, and is originally from Los Angeles, CA. She has journeyed on several career paths, all of which have led to where she is today. Dr. Watkins started her professional career in the field of Journalism, with a focus on Public Relations, working with several local non-profit organizations. After five years, she followed another life-long passion and became licensed as a Cosmetologist. Dr. Watkins worked in several salons before owning her own salon in North Park. In addition to caring for hair, she was caring for souls by serving as an unofficial counselor of sorts. It was during this time that she felt the Lord leading her to attend seminary to become licensed as a Marriage & Family Therapist. Her counseling career has led her to the San Diego Rescue Mission, Community Research Foundation,Telecare Corporation, and currently the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD. Dr. Watkins is also an adjunct professor at her alma mater Southern California Seminary. She has been married to her husband Greg for over 23 years, and they have four daughters.

Courses Taught

MF629 Community Mental Health

Off campus:
Motivational Interviewing
Substance Abuse
Psychological Testing I & II


Nominee for 79th Assembly District's 2017 Salute to Women Leaders                    March 2017


Watkins, N. (2017) You Are Not Alone: Rediscovering Faith in God After Infant Loss. CreateSpace Publishing Company.

Watkins, N. (2015) Dissertation. Female Infant Adoption and the Impact on Secure Attachments with Males in Adulthood. 


Watkins, N (2015 February). Adoption: When Love is Not Enough. Workshop for Rhombus Family 
Conference in El Cajon, CA.


Certificates and Licenses

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, 2015 - present

CAMFT Certified Supervisor

Professional Organizations, Committees, and Boards


Eastlake Church, Chula Vista Campus - GriefShare Co-Leader, member of the Prayer Team, and Growth Group Leader

Hobbies and Interests

Watching autobiographies



"Just take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase...just take the first step." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.