Research & Publications
My research interests are focused on the impact of violence and trauma (particularly family violence) on child development and the advancement of best practice interventions for children and families affected by such violence exposure. I am interested in the neurobiological and cognitive impact of violence exposure on children and adults and how that might translate into understanding best treatment approaches.
Extensive Research Description
I began my research career as a graduate student with the University of California San Francisco’s Child Trauma Research Project. This was a hospital-based program under the direction of Drs. Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn. I worked within their program for three years and was intimately involved in their NIMH funded research project studying the efficacy and manualization of Child-Parent Psychotherapy for young children exposed to violence. I interviewed mothers, conducted assessments with young children, coded video play sessions, and aided in data management. In addition to my research experience and work, I was trained and supervised in Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP). After working with this research team, I became interested in the relationships that children had with their previously violent fathers. I developed my own study, which became my doctoral dissertation, examining the behavioral, cognitive, and emotional implications of father visitation in domestic violence families. Results revealed that preschool aged children with little to no contact with their fathers had higher rates of internalizing symptoms regardless of the severity of violence perpetrated by the father toward the mother. In addition, children (especially boys) who had more contact with their fathers had fewer negative representations of their mothers in play. These data suggest that ending the violence and continuing contact with fathers when possible can yield better outcomes for children.
I came to the Yale Child Study Center to complete my internship and postdoctoral training. I remained on the faculty at Yale for 10 years conducting research related to interventions for children exposed to violence including development and efficacy testing of the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention and the Domestic Violence Home Visit Intervention with Dr. Steven Marans.
I began my work on interventions for fathers with histories of intimate partner violence (IPV) through an award as an early investigator from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to begin development of an intervention for fathers with histories of IPV that would focus on their parenting. I received a K23 Career Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop an intervention for fathers with co-occurring substance abuse and IPV. With K23 support, I demonstrated the preliminary feasibility and efficacy of Fathers for Change to enable fathers to reduce both their substance use and their violent behavior. I then spent 4 years at the University of South Florida’s Department of Mental Health Law and Policy because of its focus on co-occurring disorders in legal systems. During that time I was awarded an R34 from NIDA to test Fathers for Change in residential substance abuse treatment programs. Upon return to the Yale Child Study Center in 2017, I began further evaluation research of Fathers for Change through a statewide dissemination evaluation and a clinical trial funded by NICHD. I also launched the Yale Early Stress and Adversity Consortium bringing together faculty from across Yale departments/schools and beyond to develop collaborative research and writing projects to advance understanding of the longitudinal impacts of early life adversity on later life outcomes.
Aside from my intervention research, I have authored dozens of articles in peer reviewed journals related to IPV and the impact on parenting, children and families. I have conducted trainings and presentations both nationally and internationally on working with fathers with histories of IPV. I provide ongoing consultation to the CT Department of Children and Families on working with IPV families involved with child welfare. Notably, I traveled to Oslo, Norway to present to clinicians from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Iceland on engagement and treatment approaches for fathers with IPV and substance misuse problems. I co-authored a home-based intervention approach for families with situational couple violence being piloted across the United Kingdom by the National Society for the Prevention of Child Cruelty entitled Steps to Safety.
Psychiatry and Psychology
Public Health Interests
Mental Health; Substance Use, Addiction; Child/Adolescent Health; Health Equity, Disparities, Social Determinants and Justice