Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Faculty & Staff Directory

Mauricio Cifuentes

Title/s:  Clinical Assistant Professor; Coordinator of the Online, Bilingual MSW Program

Office #:  Maguire Hall 412

Phone: 312.915.7112


CV Link: Cifuentes, M. CV

Mission in Action

Dr. Cifuentes sees his role as a social work professor framed by the sharing of his passion for the profession. In his philosophical teaching approach, he embraces Ignatian Pedagogy and has been influenced by Latin American authors, mainly Paulo Freire, and his notion of praxis. Dr. Cifuentes describes praxis as a never-ending process in which one is constantly interacting with both the internal and external environment. Essentially, one sees one same reality, but new elements are constantly incorporated into that reality via the learning process. Therefore, when one contemplates that same reality again, the perception of it is now different; it has become a new reality.
Dr. Cifuentes believes that good social workers are equipped with a great amount of authentic curiosity about human beings and approach them and their complex realities with an open, critical mind and a compassionate heart.


Dr. Mauricio Cifuentes received his Juris Doctor degree, in addition to his specialization in Labor Law from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana de Bogotá, Colombia, where he practiced and taught Labor Law for twenty years before moving to the United States to pursue a career in social work. He earned his Masters and PhD. in Social Work at Loyola University Chicago. Additionally, he obtained a Certificate in Clinical Practice with LGBT Individuals and Their Families, from The Chicago Center for Family Health.

Besides teaching, Dr. Cifuentes is currently the program coordinator for the Online, Bilingual MSW Programs at the Loyola School of Social Work. In this role, he is fully utilizing his fluency in Spanish and English to increase representation of qualified bilingual speakers in the Social Work field. His bi-cultural knowledge gives an advantage for objective assessment of classes and special programs to contribute with diversity and prepare students for the future.

During his career, he has provided clinical supervision to interns and professional social workers, consultation to social service agencies providing services to Latinxs, and psychotherapy to clients of diverse social identities. Mauricio has taught social work at the doctoral, master and bachelor levels at The Institute for Clinical Social Work, at Loyola University Chicago, and at Augsburg University. He has done research, written, and presented to national and international audiences on several topics particularly related to Latinxs. For Dr. Cifuentes, being a social worker is a concrete way to express his spiritual values and religious beliefs. He considers of paramount importance the recognition of the strengths present in every single human being, couple, family, and community, no matter how difficult and challenging their circumstances may be; and to be responsive to the call to fight against all forms of oppression and discrimination, in order to make real the ideal of an egalitarian society. As a practitioner, he describes himself as psychodynamic-oriented with a strong influence from strengths theory. Group work is his favorite modality of therapeutic intervention.

Program Areas

  • Trauma
  • Clinical interventions with immigrants and refugees 
  • Psychodynamic theories and its implementation in clinical practice
  • Psychotherapy with LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families
  • Program design and evaluation
  • Latinxs and Sexuality
  • Group therapy 

Research Interests

  • Barriers to access mental health services and ways to overcome them
  • The impact of cultural values and believes about sexuality on Latinxs' behaviors 
  • Effectiveness of therapeutic interventions
  • Evaluation of the impact of educational as well as clinical programs with the goal of learning how to maximize their benefits and the possibility of their being replicated 

Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses

  • SOWK 306      Practice 1: With Individuals  
  • SOWK 307      Field Work 1: Integrative Seminar
  • SOWK 317      Field Work 2: Integrative Seminar  
  • SOWK 370      Cultural Diversity

Graduate Courses

  • SOWK 505      Social Work Practice with Groups  
  • SOWK 506      Practice 2: Methods with Groups and Families  
  • SOWK 509      Assessment and Diagnosis in Mental Health  
  • SOWK 628      Multicultural Clinical Practice with Individuals  
  • SOWK 631      Multicultural Clinical Practice with Groups  
  • SOWK 635      Multicultural Clinical Practice Evaluation 1
  • SOWK 636      Multicultural Clinical Practice Evaluation 2  
  • SOWK 639      Trauma Theory and Treatment in Multicultural Clinical Practice  
  • CF/SOWK 661  Diversity, Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation

Courses about to start teaching

  • SOWK 617      Principles and Interventions in Clinical Social Work
  • SOWK 604      Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups