Cristina Plaza Ruiz

Job Title


Professor Plaza Ruiz is a Marriage and Family Therapist and adjunct assistant professor at Bethel Seminary. She is passionate about seeing families thrive and live healthy lives. Her focus is clinical practice serving the immigrant and refugee community in the Twin Cities, supporting immigrant families in the adjustment process to a new culture and a new environment, and processing immigration trauma and loss and the accompanying life challenges that come with it. Her interest in leadership in higher education is centered around training culturally responsive mental health providers, partly fueled by her experience teaching languages for social justice. She teaches in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Bethel Seminary in St Paul and works as a psychotherapist working with Refugees and Immigrants. Plaza Ruiz is passionate about the education and mentoring of future therapists who work with immigrants and refugees. She is an educator at heart who desires to offer equitable care and serve underserved populations.

Started at Bethel



  • UNED, Spain - B.S. in Pedagogy and Philosophy of Education , 1993
  • Hamline University - M.A.Ed., 1997
  • Bethel Seminary - Postgraduate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy, 2015
  • Bethel University - Ed.D., 2019


Beulah Benton Tatum Award (Hamline University, 1997)


Overcoming Racism, Metro State University (St. Paul, MN, 2014)

Best Practices in Palliative Care for Immigrants and Refugees: A Family Systems and Cultural Humility Perspective, MN Network of Hospice and Palliative Care Annual Conference, (Minneapolis, 2017)

End of Life Conversations with Immigrant and Refugees: A Family Systems and Cultural Humility Perspective, 15th World Congress of The European Association of Palliative Care (Madrid, Spain, May 2017)

Building Rapport in Refugee Medical Screening. University of Minnesota Training/IOM (Kampala, Uganda, May 2018)

Three Domains Of rapport. Facilitating Rapport During Refugee Screening. University of Minnesota Training / IOM (Bangkok, Thailand, August 2018)

The Lived Experiences of recently graduated MFTs working with refugees and immigrants. Malaga, Spain, March 2023. World Congress of Family Therapy. 

Certificates and Licenses

  • Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT): The Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certificate Program.
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MN)
  • Trauma-informed yoga. Firefly Yoga: July 209. Minnesota
  • HEALING YOGA FOR REFUGEES, ASYLUM-SEEKERS AND DISPLACED PEOPLE, Off the Mat, Into the World, February – March, 2019
  • EMDR Training, Minneapolis, MN, April 2018


Professional Organizations, Committees, and Boards

American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy

Minnesota Association of Marriage and Family Therapy

MN MFT Board approved supervisor

AAMFT Approved Supervisor Candidate 

Board Member, Urban Ventures, Msp, MN

Hobbies and Interests


  • Spanish (native language)
  • English (Fluent both spoken and written, bilingual/bicultural)

Immigration and Mental Health:

  • Lectured on Hispanic/Latino issues, demographics, immigration, and mental health of the immigrant and refugees.
  • Trauma and relocation of immigrants and refugees looking at resiliency and strength-based approach.
  • Parent education and counseling for immigrant families. Family health and spirituality with a therapeutic and psycho-education component.


§  I enjoy painting in oil, acrylic and mixed media. My work has been exhibited at the Minneapolis Foundation and Cherokee Park United Church in St. Paul.


§  Intersection of mental health, yoga, nutrition, and physical exercise.

Areas of expertise

Latino immigration, immigrant families in transition, mental health of immigrants and refugees, global mental health, family therapy, Spanish for Health professionals, cross-cultural issues.

Teaching specialty

Teach courses on Marriage and Family Theories, Individual Development within the Family, Challenges Over the Life Cycle, Psychopathology, Individual Development within the Family