Sufna John

For this week’s Woman Wednesday, AY About You sits down with Sufna John.


John is originally from Michigan, so the fall colors in Little Rock have always reminded her of home. John is a mother to two boys, ages 5 and 2, and loves to bake and explore restaurants in her spare time. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. 


“I focus my career on recognizing and responding to the impact of childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, motor vehicle accidents and natural disasters, and specialize in supporting young children exposed to trauma and youth in the foster care system,” John says. 


John is the co-director of the Arkansas Building Effective Services for Trauma (ARBEST) program, a state-funded initiative that aims to improve outcomes for children and families who have experienced trauma through excellence in clinical care, training, advocacy and evaluation. You can find its social media page here


“We are probably best known for providing free training to mental health therapists across the state in trauma treatment models that we know are effective. To date, we have trained about 2,000 mental health providers in evidence-based treatment in most counties in Arkansas,” John elaborates.

John also sits on the Governor’s Commission for Child Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence and brings her knowledge of childhood trauma and best practices to the team. Additionally, she is a state trainer for Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), a mental health treatment targeting children ages birth-5 years and their caregivers who have experienced trauma.


“I am also a state trainer for the DC:0-5 Diagnostic Classification System that helps mental health therapists know how to accurately diagnose mental health difficulties in children birth-5 years.”


John explains what it means to her to be a woman. “Being a woman is a really central part of my identity and has shaped my life experiences and perspectives. I feel proud to be a woman, especially a woman of color, and hope that I am able to bring these unique perspectives to discussions across aspects of work life.”


John delves deeper into the significance of being a woman in her line of work.

“It’s somewhat unique to be a woman in clinical psychology because, unlike other fields that may be more male-dominated, I get the privilege of being surrounded by so many incredible women in my daily work life,” she explains. “I think my greatest challenges have actually come from trying to achieve the work/life balance that so many women are up against. I hope my kids grow up knowing that I value my roles as a mother and as a psychologist and that it’s possible to celebrate all the parts of who you are.”


John offers a word of advice to women and girls who might read this article.


“My advice to women and girls is to value yourself and the contributions you can make to the world around you. To quote the late supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ‘women belong in all places where decisions are being made’. My advice is to take pride in your strengths and be open to areas of growth. Be stubborn enough to persevere with what you want and deserve. Finally, to not take for granted the moments where you find yourself at the decision table. For every one woman at the table, there are many more who are not invited to sit. Use your space to advocate for the better world you want.”


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