marcela polanco

marcela polanco, Ph.D., LMFT

MFT Advisor, AAMFT-approved Clinical Supervisor & Associate Professor

Counseling and School Psychology

San Diego

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My ancestry es Muisca, African and South European de Colombia. Como inmigrante en los United States (U.S.), I completed a Ph.D. in Family Therapy at Nova Southeastern University (2011). Mi trabajo de supervisión, teaching, research, and therapy in my immigrant English are informed by the Australasian narrative therapy and U.S. Black feminism. En my Español Colombiano y Spanglish, I am particularly interested in Andean decoloniality, anti-racist feminismos and Chicanx borderland activismo as a response to Eurocentrism. I am a practicing licensed Marriage and Family Therapist en los Estados de California and Texas and AAMFT Supervisor.


  • Colombian Spanish
  • Immigrant Spanglish
  • Immigrant English



  • polanco, m., Zamani, N., & Da Hee, Ch. K. (Eds.). (2021). Bilingualism, culture, and social justice in family therapy. New York, NY: Springer.
  • Monk, G., Winslade, J., Sinclair, S., & polanco, m. (2020). Intercultural counseling: Bridging the us and them divide (1st ed.). San Diego, CA: Cognella.

Book Chapters

  • polanco, m., Zamani, N., & Da Hee, Ch. K. (2021). In m., polanco, N., Zamani, & Ch. K., Da Hee, (Eds.). Bilingualism, culture, and social justice in family therapy. Springer.
  • X, T., Chang, M., Hogan, L. &  polanco, m. (2021). Storying the Aesthetics of Nuestras Linguistic Borderlands: A Tapestry de Solidarity. In m., polanco, N., Zamani, &; Ch. K., Da Hee, (Eds.). Bilingualism, culture, and social justice in family therapy. Springer
  • polanco, m. &; X, T. (2021). Andean decoloniality and mental health. In Lester, N.J., & O’Reilly, M. (Eds.), The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • polanco, m. (2019). En defensa de Spanglish family therapy supervision in the era of English. In L. Charlés & T. Nelson (Eds.), Family therapy supervision in extraordinary settings: Illustrations of systemic approaches in every day clinical work (pp. 1-12). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Dominguez, D., Coppock, J., & polanco, m. (2018). Binational families: Risk factors for relationships dissatisfaction, conflict and divorce. In A. E. Goldberg & A. P. Romero (Eds.), LGBTQ Divorce and Relationship Dissolution (pp. 87-108). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • polanco, m., Lozano, A. Chavarria, S., Rodríguez, A., Ochoa, E., & Garza, K. (2018). Collaborative autoethnography as a pedagogical method: Women family therapists storying their Latin American heritages. In H. Syrjälä & A. Norrgrann (Eds.), Multifaceted Autoethnography: Theoretical Advancements, Practical Considerations and Field Illustrations (pp. 71-100). Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
  • polanco, m. (2018). La lucha de una mujer Mexicana y su hijo: De trampas de vida a ventajas de vida. In Latorre-Gentoso, I. (Ed.), Prácticas de terapia narrativa. Voces latinoamericanas tejiendo relatos preferidos (pp. 239-255). Santiago de Chile, Chile: Pranas Editores.
  • polanco, m. (2017). Deconstructive listening in couple and family therapy. In J., Lebow & D.B., Chambers (Eds.), Encyclopedia of couple and family therapy (pp. 1-5). New York, NY: Springer.
  • polanco, m. (2017). Prefacio. In Abriendo Caminos (Ed.), Respeto, colaboración y promoción de ciudadanía como prácticas de acompañamiento para la transformación social: Experiencia del equipo programa Abriendo Caminos (pp. 11-14). Puerto Montt, Chile: Universidad Austral de Chile.
  • polanco, m., Shelton, T. & Perdomo, C. (2017). Narrative therapy work with couples. In R. Chenail & M. Reiter (Eds.), Case conceptualization in Couples Counseling (pp. 106-136). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • polanco, m. (2016). La infidelidad al machismo a la búsqueda de sueños de restitución social [Being unfaithful to machismo in search for dreams of restitution]. In A. M. Estrada & C. Buitrago Murcia (Eds.), Atención psicosocial del sufrimiento en situaciones de violencia (pp. 168-197). Chagrin Falls, Ohio: Worldshare Books.
  • polanco, m. (2016). Knowledge fair trade. In L. Charlés & G. Samarasinghe (Eds.), Family therapy in global humanitarian contexts: Voices and issues from the field (pp. 13-25). New York, NY: Springer.

Selected Journal Publications

  • polanco, m. (under review). Why am I a woman, Latinx? Or, am I? Decolonizing feminism and the Latina body. Women and Therapy. Special Issue: Feminist liberation and postcolonial therapy with Latinx women. Carrie Castañeda-Sound, Ph.D., and Lillian Comas-Diaz, Ph.D.
  • X. T. & polanco, m. (2021). An autopsy of the coloniality of suicide: Modernity’s completed suicide. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine.
  • polanco, m. (2021). Rethinking narrative therapy: An examination of bilingualism and magical realism. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 40(1), 59-60. Reprinted.
  • polanco, m., Hanson, N., Hernández, C., Le Feber, T., Medina, S., Old Buher, S., Rivera, E., Rodriguez, I., Vela, E., Velasco, B., & Le Feber, J. (2020). How to be unfaithful to Eurocentrism? A Spanglish decolonial critique to knowledge gentrification, captivity and storycide in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report
  • polanco, m., Mancías, S., & LeFeber, T. (2017). Reflections on moral care when conducting qualitative research about suicide in the U.S. military. Death Studies, Special Issue, 41(18), 521-531. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2017.1333356
  • polanco, m. (2016). Language justice: Narrative therapy on the fringes of Colombian magical realism. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 3, 68-76.
  • polanco, m. (April, 2013). Democratizing academic writing: Writing an autoethnographic dissertation in color. The Qualitative Report, 18(Art. 17), 1-17. Retrieved from
  • polanco, m. (2011). Autoethnographic means to the end of a decolonizing translation. Journal of Systemic Therapies. Special Edition, 30(3), 73-87.
  • polanco, m. (2010). University students take action under the gaze of the eye of success: A narrative therapy collective initiative. Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 1, 59-70.
  • Hibel, J., & polanco, m. (2010). Tuning the ear: Listening in narrative therapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 29(1), 51-66.
  • polanco, m., & Epston, D. (2009). Tales of travels across languages: Languages and their anti-languages. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 4, 38-47. (This article is available in Danish. Published in Systemisk Narrative Forum, 2015).
  • Hibel, J., & polanco, m. (2008). Learning Narrative Therapy within a graduate level course: Teaching and Exercises. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 1, 61-70.