The psychology faculty are active scholars and maintain current research programs. Faculty members have a wide range of research interests in both human and animal behavior. Areas of specialization include:
- Behavioral neuroscience – (A. Bailey, T. Dennis, V. Müller Ewald)
- Clinical/counseling psychology – (A. Ehman, A. Ikizler, M. Kalantzis, L. Nutt Williams)
- Cognitive psychology – (S. Breedin, N. Kurpad, J. Mantell)
- Developmental psychology – (S. Mirabile)
- Developmental neuroscience – (Y. Chung)
- Social psychology – (G. Freedman, K. Howanksy, J. Tickle)
Below each faculty member’s name you’ll find their current areas of interest and some possible areas for St. Mary’s Projects they would be especially well-qualified to supervise. If you are interested in the research of any current faculty member, please don’t hesitate to contact them directly to discuss opportunities.
Dr. Aileen Bailey | Neurobiology of Behavior Lab – firstname.lastname@example.org, Goodpaster Hall 102, x4338
A. Animal Models of Depression
Excitatory synapses of the brain are altered in various animal models of depression. Traditional antidepressants are known to alter these excitatory synapses but behavioral effects are not measureable for several weeks. Therefore recent research has focused on other mechanisms to rapidly restore these excitatory synapses. My lab has tested newer fast-acting compounds with antidepressant effects. We utilize various animal models of depression to measure aspects of anhedonia and its reversal following antidepressant administration. (see K. Kostelnik SMP; K. La SMP, M. Madden SMP; M. Steyert SMP; K.Robey SMP; B. Steinhoff SMP).
B. Neurological Mechanisms of Learning and Memory
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by hypofunction of the basal forebrain cholinergi system which results in memory and attentional deficits. Progressive neurodegeneration renders the primary source of cortical acetylcholine, the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (nBM) unable to innervate the cortex at normal physiological levels. Recent research as implicated a group of hypothalamic neuropeptides, the orexins, in aiding the efflux of endogenous acetylcholine in the nBM. My lab has recently investigated the direct effects of intrabasalis orexin infusion on the acquisition and reversal of an olfactory discrimination tasks and more broadly on aspects of cognitive flexibility. The current focus of the lab is the role of Orexin A in aspects of cognition.(P. Piantadosi SMP, A. Holmes SMP, Z. Forrester SMP).
C. Data Science Pedagogy
Data science is an emerging interdisciplinary field that leverages computational methods to explore, analyze, and interpret information patterns in large datasets. As data science courses and programs develop in the undergraduate curriculum, research is needed to identify essential content and effective assessment strategies. In collaboration with Dr. James Mantell, we aim to create, assess, improve, and share data science course materials that are tailored for psychology students.
Dr. Sarah Breedin, email@example.com, Goodpaster Hall 133, x4344
Cognitive Neuroscience – Exploration of language representation in individuals with unimpaired and impaired language processing (e.g., aphasia, dyslexia, semantic dementia)
Cognitive Psychology – Exploration of the differences between experts and novices in knowledge representation (e.g., math, physics and human computer interaction)
Dr. Yu Sun Chung | Adolescent Development and Stress Lab – firstname.lastname@example.org, Goodpaster Hall 114, x4283
A. How early stressful life events impact the HPA axis functioning, and reward learning behavior in adolescents
Accelerated pubertal development has been linked to adverse early environments and may heighten subsequent mental and physical health risks for adolescents. Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis functioning has been posited as a mechanism whereby stress may affect pubertal development and modulate probabilistic reward learning behavior. However, we know little about potential mechanisms underlying the relationships among HPA axis functioning, early stressful environment and reward learning behavior. To this end, our lab, “Adolescent Development and Stress” is currently examining how early stressful life events (e.g., parental separation, low socioeconomic status, bullying) impact the HPA axis functioning and reward learning behavior in adolescents (ages 8 to 22 years). Specifically, we will use hair DHEA and cortisol as an index of the HPA axis and a behavior paradigm of probabilistic reward learning in the lab along with several self-report questionnaires asking about puberty development and childhood stressful experiences. If this pilot project is successful, we will extend this to longitudinal investigations using the use of electroencephalography methods in the future!
B. Puberty development and adolescents’ cognitive-affective processes and mental health
In parallel, our lab investigates how the coupling of the HPA axis and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG) axis influence sex differences in developmental psychopathology including depression and anxiety in the context of social stressors (e.g., cyberbullying) using multi-modal neuroimaging methods. To this end, we use one of the largest, longitudinal public data from the ABCD Study®. The ABCD is recruiting and following approximately 10,000 9-10 year olds through adolescence across the United States. Longitudinal measures include brain structure and function (i.e., structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), clinical measurements of psychopathology and biospecimens such as saliva and hair.
Major research questions that we aim to probe are as follows:
- How do the timing and tempo of adrenarche development influence cognitive-affective processes in adolescents in a sex-specific way?
- What are risk and resilience factors for depression and anxiety that emerge in adolescence?
- How do fluctuating estradiol hormones influence girls’ emotion regulation?
Dr. Torry Dennis | Neurobiology of Addiction Lab – email@example.com, Goodpaster Hall 127, x4347
A. Sex Differences in Cocaine and Opioid Addiction
It is well established that women and men respond differently to drugs of abuse. Women begin use at an earlier age, progress through the stages of addiction more quickly, and are more susceptible to relapse than men. Through the support of both human and animal literature, it is clear that one of the factors mediating these differences is the action of ovarian hormones. Increases in the ovarian hormone estradiol have been linked to potentiated acquisition of cocaine and morphine administration, increased responding for drugs in the maintenance of addiction, and increased cue-reactivity in female rats. Conversely, progesterone has been shown to have a protective effect in the context of addiction. My lab will continue to tease apart the influence of both sex and sex hormones on drug reward, drug aversion, and motivation.
B. Exploring Treatments for Addiction
Consistent use of drugs of abuse can fundamentally change the way that the brain processes information and can lead to addiction. A core interest of mine is to understand the underlying mechanisms of these changes and to develop interventions that can ultimately attenuate relapse. I am particularly interested in interventions that can be translated from a preclinical rat model to human trials more rapidly. My interests in this vein of research are rather broad, ranging from targeting memory systems to weaken maladaptive memories that facilitate relapse to exploring how the makeup of the gut microbiome can interact with the brain to influence risky decision-making.
*Not likely to mentor SMPs in AY24-25
Dr. Anandi Ehman | Clinical Psychology Lab – firstname.lastname@example.org, Goodpaster Hall 135, x2249
A. Interpersonal Aggression and Violence
I am especially interested in the impact of technology on facilitating relational aggression, specifically intimate partner violence. Moreover, I am passionate about extending research in relational and sexual aggression into diverse and non-heteronormative samples.
B. Impact of Social Norms
A secondary line of research of mine includes examining the impact of social norms on engagement in sexual aggression, as well as on victim blaming, victim help-seeking, and psychosocial outcomes for victims and perpetrators.
C. Impact of Societal Factors
New research projects have investigated how larger societal factors (e.g., political attitudes, public policy, laws) impact trauma survivors’ willingness to disclose their trauma and/or seek medical & mental health services.
Dr. Gili Freedman | Rejection, Interventions, and Gender Lab – email@example.com, Goodpaster Hall 137, x4426
A. Social Rejection
Social rejection is a frequent and unpleasant occurrence in our daily lives. Most of us have been on both sides of the equation: being rejected and doing the rejection. However, very little research has examined how we can make rejection less hurtful and what the process is like for the rejector. My work on social rejection investigates all aspects of the process of social rejection including how the rejection occurs, the language (or lack of language) that is used, how each party is perceived, and how the process could be improved for both the rejector and the rejected person. I am particularly interested in understanding the consequences for rejectors when they engage in different forms of rejection. Research on social rejection can address rejection that occurs in a wide range of contexts including friendships, romantic relationships, workplace relationships, and families.
B. Interpersonal Biases
Biases against women and individuals from underrepresented backgrounds are still prevalent in our society, particularly in certain contexts such as in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Importantly, and problematically, these biases can be internalized and can influence how individuals perceive themselves and the world around them. In my work on biases, I focus on examining the types of biases individuals espouse and how they manifest, particularly in the academic context. I also examine how biases impact other interpersonal processes, like social rejection. Although my work tends to focus on gender biases, I am also very interested in research on racial biases, biases based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and biases based on socioeconomic status.
C. Creating Interventions
How can we leverage social psychology to reduce interpersonal biases and the effects they have on individuals? By applying social psychology to social problems, we can learn more about both the basic science of psychology as well as the social problem at hand. My work on interventions has focused on using narratives and games to reduce biases against women in STEM and to improve outcomes for women in STEM. To create the game interventions, I have worked with collaborators and students across a diverse range of fields including art, computer science, and psychology. Research on interventions can include evaluating existing interventions, reimagining interventions for use with novel populations, and creating and testing new interventions.
Dr. Kristina Howansky | Motivation, Attention, and Person Perception Lab – firstname.lastname@example.org, Goodpaster Hall 126, x4458
A. Stigmatized Groups
How does learning someone is transgender affect a person’s perception, attention, behavior, cognition, and emotion toward that individual? Across my work, I document and investigate factors that predict differences in the way people think about, perceive, and attend to members of stigmatized populations. I also consider how stigmatized populations think about themselves. Throughout my work, I also demonstrate the consequences these biases have for members of minority groups. Much of my work utilizes novel lab-developed paradigms (e.g., avatar creation), clever well-established experimental techniques (e.g., aggression methods), and advanced technology (e.g., eyetracking) to ask whether biased perception and attention contribute to the deleterious outcomes LGBTQ+ individuals face.
Does acting in line with a health goal lead people to perceive their bodies as healthier? Do people who just quit smoking perceive the health consequences of smoking as more extreme than non-smokers? My work explores the contextual factors under which health-relevant perceptual and cognitive differences emerge and the consequences of these perceptions and cognitions. I examine the factors that predict how individuals perceive health-relevant stimuli in their environments and link perceptual biases to health related outcomes.
C. Pro-environmental Behavior
How does the the feeling of knowledge about climate change differ from actual knowledge? What is more important when it comes to pro-environmental action? I investigate how cognitive biases about climate change are related to pro-environmental behaviors. Much of this work was conducted through interdisciplinary collaborations with the departments of environmental sciences, human ecology, and communication.
Dr. Ayse Ikizler | Muticultural Psychology Lab – email@example.com, Goodpaster Hall 141, x4258
A. Oppression and Mental Health Outcomes among Ethnic and Sexual Minorities
My primary research interest focuses on the ways in which oppressive experiences (e.g., ethnic discrimination, Islamophobia, sexism, heterosexism) and traditional gender role socialization relate to mental health outcomes. I am especially interested in the experiences of sexual minorities (e.g., LGBQ) and individuals of Arab/Middle Eastern/North African (AMENA) backgrounds in the United States, and understanding identity development among diverse individuals with multiple oppressions (e.g., sexual minority women, queer people of color). I approach these topics using feminist-multicultural perspectives (e.g., relational-cultural theory, Hatzenbuehler’s psychological mediation framework, Meyer’s Minority Stress Model, Jack’s Silencing the Self Theory) and an appreciation for the intersectionality of multiple oppressions as described by Cole (2009). Overall, my aim is to develop a better understanding of how the often invisible struggles of marginalized groups impact mental health, both negatively and positively. Projects in this area may include: qualitative studies on intersectional identity experiences or quantitative studies on the relationship between coping with discrimination, cultural values, and minority stress.
B. Social Justice and Social Change
As a counseling psychologist, I recognize the need for understanding and intervening with our communities at both the individual level and at social/institutional levels. Thus, another research interest of mine is about using research to help effect social change and evaluating such intervention efforts. Sometimes such efforts are designed for the sole purpose of educating the public (e.g., providing information about Muslims and Islam) and other times an “intervention” may be a work of art or other event that exists for other purposes (e.g., a theater piece, lecture from guest speaker). If interested in this area, I would encourage you to consider how your particular knowledge and skills as a researcher and expert in psychology can be used to promote social change. Projects in this area may include: summarizing multicultural research for a broad or lay audience, evaluating existing events and projects aimed to educate the public, or designing intervention for reducing stigma and negative attitudes towards Muslims/AMENAs or other People of Color.
C. Improving Mental Health Services for Marginalized Communities
Finally, I am also interested in improving access and mental health services for marginalized communities (e.g., Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ) by assessing needs and providing resources to promote clinicians’ multicultural competences. This line of research could focus on prospective clients’ needs or on the needs of clinicians that would help them better serve particular marginalized groups. Projects in this area may include: needs assessment for particular organizations or populations (e.g., victims/survivors of intimate partner violence), a literature review and guide for identifying the most effective ways of reducing stigma against help-seeking behavior in particular groups, or assessing current clinician competence with respect to a particular population or clinical issue that minority clients face (e.g., discrimination).
Seeking AY23-24 directed research students for projects about (1) queer Arab/Middle Eastern/North African American identity or (2) stress and coping among Arab/MENA Americans. For the first project, I would love to work with students who are interested in helping develop a non-western, decolonized conceptual framework for understanding queer Arab/Middle Eastern/North African American identity. The second project is a systematic review paper, which would help students develop literature searching skills and the ability to quickly filter through existing empirical literature based on specified criteria. It would be a bonus to work with students particularly interested in ethnic minority psychology and/or stress and coping. Dr. Ikizler welcomes directed research students to support one or more of these projects during fall or spring semester. Our lab may also be recruiting additional directed research students to assist with St. Mary’s Projects in the spring.
Maria Kalantzis | firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Integrating qualitative and ecological momentary assessment data to contextualize the relationship between discrimination and health behaviors in ethnic minority communities.
B. Novel treatment development for marginalized communities experiencing disordered eating and body-image concerns.
C. Mental well-being among musicians.
Dr. Nayantara Kurpad | Memory and Learning Lab – email@example.com, Goodpaster Hall 139, x4697
Applying Cognitive Psychology Principles to Education
A. Factors that Impact Student Learning in the Classroom
Students tend to mistake the tendency of easier-to-process information as easier-to-learn. The same is particularly true when students overestimate their learning from video lectures, and their overconfidence is exacerbated when the information is viewed by a fluent lecturer. However, through tailored feedback instructors can reduce these overconfidence judgments of learning. Through experimental designs, I investigate factors such as lecture modality, fluency, video duration, learning strategies, and feedback that impact students learning in both in-person and online environments.
B. Impact of Frequent Retrieval
A common scenario in the classroom is when new learning is often integrated with previously-encoded information. Students are often asked to recall related constructions or information while learning new-information. Switching between previously learned information and new information can be costly for students’ learning. Along with my collaborators, we expanded the generalizability of previous research with objectively-true materials. I am further interested in unpacking the phenomena of learned information and its retrieval in both laboratory and in-person scenarios.
C. Metacognition in Younger and Older Adults
In another line of research, I look into beliefs and perspectives about aging. A well-known hypothesis is that people’s knowledge of their own selves is based on how they believe they are perceived by others. Along with self-predictions, I investigate predictions of others. One hypothesis is that individuals have more accurate judgments of others due to a lack of self-serving biases, such as a desired performance outcome, enhancement of self-esteem, or happiness. I am curious to learn if there are age differences when determining predictions on various tasks.
Dr. James Mantell | Vocal Perception Action Lab – firstname.lastname@example.org, Goodpaster Hall 131, x4468
A. Perception and Cognition
How does the outside world get inside your mind? Perception is a compelling field that seeks to understand the interactions between sensing and acting on information in the world. The study of illusions is especially informative because it can reveal numerous automatic, unconscious processes that underlie perceptual experience. To this end, I’ve partnered with many students to create illusions, manipulate their properties, and measure their perceptual consequences.
B. Music Perception and Production
What can music reveal about how the mind works? Music is a fascinating topic of psychological study because it requires the coordination of auditory, motor, emotional, social, and executive mental functions. I have researched music memory, singing, pitch perception and production, music and emotion, music preferences, the acquisition of music performance skills, and the relationship between music and language. Music performance skills are not required to research music psychology.
C. Data Science Pedagogy
Data science is an emerging interdisciplinary field that leverages computational methods to explore, analyze, and interpret information patterns in large datasets. As data science courses and programs develop in the undergraduate curriculum, research is needed to identify essential content and effective assessment strategies. In collaboration with Dr. Aileen Bailey, we aim to create, assess, improve, and share data science course materials that are tailored for psychology students.
C. Psychology of Climate Change
The implications of climate change have percolated into every area of scientific inquiry. Given their training in perception, thinking, behavior, social interaction, and justice, psychologists are uniquely situated to contribute to the multidisciplinary field of climate science. I am seeking research students to investigate the ways in which climate information is communicated, interpreted, and addressed so that we can mitigate the damaging effects of our climate emergency.
Dr. Scott Mirabile | Developmental Psychology Lab – email@example.com, Goodpaster Hall 122, x3356
I. Children’s development during early childhood (approx. ages 2-6) establishes the foundation for their future disposition and adjustment across multiple domains. A critical process during early childhood is the development of emotional competence: the knowledge of one’s own and others’ emotions and the ability to express and regulate emotions in keeping with one’s goals and social expectations. Emotional competence supports children’s development in multiple contexts including social, behavioral, and academic contexts. Given the importance of early emotional development, the following research areas are devoted to children’s emotional competence and its developmental consequences and how parents and teachers socialize emotional competence. The following hypotheses could be tested with questionnaires (and/or mixed methods). Participants would be recruited from a pool of willing participants (parents, children, and teachers) at local schools.
A. Early Childhood Emotional Competence and Adjustment
– Hypothesis: Early childhood emotional competence is a unitary construct consisting of interrelated processes of emotion expression, emotion regulation, and emotion understanding.
– Hypothesis: Various adjustment outcomes (including internalizing and externalizing problems like anxiety and aggression, respectively) relate specifically and uniquely to various profiles of emotional competence (i.e., different levels of emotion expression, regulation, and understanding).
– Hypothesis: Aspects of emotional competence are significant predictors of academic achievement and offer incremental validity beyond (i.e., are even better predictors than) other measures of children’s development (e.g., verbal ability, compliance to commands, social competence, etc.).
B. Parents’ Socialization of Emotional Competence during Early Childhood
– Hypothesis: Parents’ direct, purposeful emotion socialization (e.g., teaching about emotions) and parents’ indirect, unintentional emotion socialization (e.g., emotional displays in the presence of children) provide unique and interactive contributions to children’s emotional competence and adjustment.
– Hypothesis: Inconsistencies between parents direct emotion socialization messages and their indirect emotion socialization behaviors will negatively impact children’s development of emotional competence.
– Hypothesis: Parents’ emotion socialization may interact with aspects of children’s emotional competence in predicting children’s adjustment. For example, some parental emotion socialization strategies (e.g., cognitive restructuring, distraction, soothing) are likely more or less effective/adaptive depending on children’s level of negative emotionality.
C. Teachers’ Socialization of Emotional Competence during Early Childhood
– Exploratory Hypotheses: Do teachers and parents use different strategies to socialize emotional competence? If so, which strategies does each group use most frequently, and why?
– Exploratory Hypotheses: Does teachers’ socialization of emotional competence impact children’s adjustment (emotional, social, behavioral) in ways similar to parent’s emotion socialization?
– Exploratory Hypotheses: Are teachers more likely than parents to use generalized response styles when dealing with children’s emotions or are they sensitive to children’s individual differences and needs when responding to emotions?
II. Given St. Mary’s core institutional values of “the power of a diverse community” and “social responsibility and civic-mindedness” and our goal of graduating “prepared, responsible, and thoughtful global citizens and leaders,” it is vital to assess how well we are living up to these values and meeting these goals. Thus, my second line of research focuses on how certain learning experiences (e.g., workshops, trainings, lectures, activities, assignments) foster students’ knowledge of how social/political power systems operate in relation to course content (e.g., child development) and how such learning experiences develop students’ capacity for and engagement in resisting oppressive sociopolitical structures.
Dr. Victória Müller Ewald | Neurophysiology “Brain BEE” Lab | firstname.lastname@example.org, Goodpaster Hall 124, x4458
Modulation of brain activity is an FDA approved treatment for depression and has helped many people for whom traditional pharmacological treatments have little to no effect. Since the discovery of this treatment, researchers have wondered how far they can push this scientific breakthrough. In what other cases might brain stimulation be useful? Work has explored using brain stimulation as a treatment for disorders other than depression including disorders of movement, disorders of aging, and psychiatric conditions. Additionally, researchers have found some evidence that brain stimulation can boost cognition levels in individuals without psychiatric disorders. Can this treatment be administered outside of the psychiatry/neurology clinic? Researchers are creating new devices to test if brain stimulation can be made portable and delivered at home. I am interested in testing the limits of these portable brain stimulation devices and exploring which populations and behaviors their use can impact.
B. Measuring brain activity via EEG
Your billions of neurons communicate with each other electrochemically. If we “listen in” on the brain waves that this communication generates via electroencephalography (EEG), then we can learn about how your brain regions function when you are engaged in various different tasks. I am interested in measuring brain waves during attentional allocation tasks and seeing if we can use these data to predict how successful someone would be in maintaining their focus. I am also interested in examining how psychiatric comorbidities such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression can influence these brain wave patterns.
C. Exploring the role of the placebo effect on neuropsychiatric performance
“Of course it’s happening inside your head […], but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” is not just a Harry Potter quote, it is also a descriptor of the Placebo Effect. A non-specific drug effect, the Placebo Effect has been shown to decrease pain and even alter immune function. How far does this effect extend? If we tell someone we are giving them a therapy that will help them better allocate their attention, will they perform better on an attentional test? Additionally, if behavior is altered, is the functioning of the underlying brain regions also altered? Initial results point to ‘yes’.
Dr. Jennifer Tickle | Social Psychology Lab – email@example.com, Goodpaster Hall 128, x4359
A. Media Influence on Attitudes and Behavior
Media influence how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we interact in the world. Media can create, reinforce, or challenge stereotypes; they affect our attitudes about topics as diverse as sexuality or politics; and they influence our behaviors in domains such as health and consumerism. Research on media may include content analysis of media, correlational research examining media exposure and attitudes or behaviors, or laboratory research that differentially exposes individuals to media in order to observe effects. Although the possibilities for research in this area are vast, some examples of the types of research questions that could be pursued are: What characteristics are ascribed to members of a particular group in top grossing American films? How does the use of the internet relate to academic performance or social development? What aspects of advertising are related to product memory? How does personality relate to media use?
B. New Media and Communication Technology (e.g., social media, computer communication, virtual reality)
The ever-changing nature of media provides many opportunities to study how people use newer media technology, the pitfalls or advantages of newer media, and how people’s perceptions or behaviors change (or don’t change) in non-face-to-face or “virtual face-to-face” interactions compared to the face-to-face domain. This research also uses newer media technologies like virtual reality to explore the applicability of more traditional social psychological theories within virtual space. The questions that can be asked in the domain change as quickly as the media itself, but studies might focus on emotions, cognitions, or behavior and could be observational, correlational, or experimental in nature.
C. Research on Self and Self-regulation
Each of us experiences success at self-control as well as failures of self-control, whether it is breaking a diet or practicing daily to improve a skill. Self-regulation requires awareness of the desire to meet a goal, determination of the steps required to meet the goal, enacting those steps, checking to see if you have met the goal, and knowing when to stop. Self-regulation can go wrong at any of these stages, and some common culprits of self-regulatory failure are stress, mood, the situation, or interfering goals. Research in this area can examine the types of situations or strategies that lead to self-regulatory success or failure or the consequences of success and failure for self or others. Behaviors that might be explored are health decisions (e.g., drinking, smoking, sex, weight), personal decision making (e.g., relationships, time management), self-presentation, deception, or emotion expression regulation.
D. Interaction Dynamics and Person Perception
Our interactions with other people influence many of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For example, our interactions with individuals who are stigmatized may reinforce our prejudices or may alter them depending on the interaction. Our first impressions of a person influence how we will subsequently behave with that individual. Research on interaction dynamics may include survey or interview research, analysis of narrative responses, or laboratory research involving observing and coding behavior during interactions. The types of interactions studied may include strangers, friends, romantic relationships, or groups.
E. Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
I have also mentored many projects that examine themes relevant to the study of women, gender, and sexuality.
Dr. Libby Nutt Williams | Counseling Psychology Lab – firstname.lastname@example.org, Goodpaster Hall 104, x4467
A. The Process of Psychotherapy and Counseling
My primary area of research is in psychotherapy process (i.e., what actually happens in therapy sessions between clients and counselors). Within this area, my particular interests lie with therapist self-awareness and self-talk, but I am also interested a variety of other process issues, such as useful therapeutic techniques, clients’ perceptions of therapist techniques (e.g., do clients like it when therapists use silence as a technique?), and therapists’ unique issues in therapy (e.g., boredom, ethical issues, homophobia, therapists need for their own psychotherapy). Some past examples of student projects in the area include: a national survey of therapists’ training regarding how to manage sexual attraction to clients, a qualitative interview study of therapists’ use of the “self” in therapy, and the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy as a treatment for schizophrenia. Future SMP projects might focus on whether therapists of different theoretical orientations manage and use their self-awareness in different ways or whether therapists’ background (e.g., personality variables, family history) relate to the ways therapists manage their self-awareness.
B. Issues of Gender and Multiculturalism
I am interested in the impact of gender and race/ethnicity (as well as other demographic variables) on the experiences of clients and therapists. For example, one of my students did his SMP on client preferences for match with the therapist. Another student did a project on the impact of sexual orientation on therapist and client attitudes. I am particularly interested in the intersection of feminism and multiculturalism in therapy, but I have interest in gender and racial topics outside of therapy as well (e.g., women’s career development). Future SMP projects might focus on the extent to which therapists actually use feminist and multicultural techniques in therapy or on the impact of subtle or “benevolent” sexism (Glick & Fiske, 2001) on students’ attitudes.
C. Qualitative Methodology.
In addition to my quantitative studies, I am also interested in qualitative analysis. Specifically, I helped create a qualitative methodology called Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR; Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997; Hill, Knox, Thompson, Williams, Hess & Ladany, 2005) that has been used fairly extensively to examine issues in counseling (e.g., how therapists deal with receiving gifts from clients, what happens during a therapeutic impasse, how serendipity plays a part in career decisions). Several of my SMP students have done qualitative projects (e.g., counseling experiences of Latina battered women). Qualitative methods work well when you are studying a topic that has not been extensively researched – it allows for an exploratory approach that can generate new information and new ideas for future quantitative follow-up studies. Future SMP projects might focus on the CQR methodology itself (e.g., a qualitative study of qualitative researchers) or on a specific topic (e.g., how therapists deal with boredom in therapy).
D. I am also returning to an earlier focus on mine – career development. Counseling psychologists have long been interested in career development and counseling. I have done past research on serendipity in career choice and am currently working on several projects that look at leadership theory and practice. In particular, I am interested in authentic leadership, its tensions and complexities, and how one can work in sustainable ways over time as a leader. I am interested in all levels of leadership and see avenues for exploring career theories and practical approaches in this area of research as well.