David Brandwein, Psy.D.
Associate Coordinator of Clinical Training
Forensic Assessment and Evaluation in Civil Matters:
As part of my work conducting forensic psychological evaluations in civil matters (i.e., parental fitness, disability), I am interested in establishing a set of norms for the measures I use to conduct these assessments (i.e., CAPI, MMPI 2 RF, MCMI-III, TSI-2, etc.) and identifying score patterns and response sets that can predict successful resolution of these matters. My database includes over five hundred forensic evaluations and provides multiple opportunities for research and dissertation development.
Child and School Related Issues:
After completing lines of research assessing the success of multicultural education in elementary and middle school students (Donoghue and Brandwein, 2012; Brandwein and Donoghue, 2012) and investigating harassment, intimidation, and bullying in parochial schools (Donoghue, Almeida, and Brandwein, in press), I am interested in developing new projects to investigate mental health and social justice variables in elementary and middle school students. I will be working closely with Dr. Adrienne Garro on these projects, and encourage any and all students to approach me and/or Dr. Garro with ideas for new research or ideas to expand existing research.
Adrienne Garro, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator, School Psychology Professional Diploma program
Quality of Life in Pediatric Developmental Disabilities and Chronic Health Conditions
This research team will focus on family and child responses to a variety of developmental disabilities and pediatric chronic conditions. We will study specific child, family, and demographic variables that affect adjustment to these chronic conditions (Garro, 2011, 2007, 2004) and examine potential causal pathways between these variables and positive quality of life. In addition, this team will focus on the implications of these variables in the development and implementation of evidence-based psychosocial interventions for children with chronic conditions and their families (Garro, 2009; Scholten et al, 2013).
Early Childhood Assessment, Consultation, & Intervention
This research team will focus on the development and application of specific assessment and consultation models to be used for preschoolers and early elementary age students from high-risk backgrounds. The integration of norm-referenced and alternative (i.e., play-based, naturalistic, etc.) instruments and procedures will be studied and applied in clinical and school settings. Strong emphasis will be placed upon the development and use of assessment models that are culturally sensitive and family-focused (Garro, 2009). In addition, data from these assessment models will be used in the development of evidence-based prevention and early intervention services for at-risk children. This team will focus on early identification and intervention for learning, developmental and behavioral/emotional problems in children ages birth – six.
Assessment and Intervention of Clinical Psychological Problems in School Settings
This research team will focus on the application of best assessment practices for clinical problems such as depression, anxiety, and other conditions that may qualify as “emotional disabilities” in school settings. The integration and differentiation between school-based assessment and classification with clinical assessment and intervention will be examined. The use of clinical case data and frameworks in schools will be examined including the link between this data and intervention planning.
Keri Giordano, Psy.D.
Advanced Studies in Psychology
My prior work in early childhood education repeatedly demonstrated the lack of appropriate psychological services for children in the birth to five population, especially children who are demonstrating challenging behaviors. In line with this, my current research and clinical interests focus on three areas in the field of early childhood aimed at providing effective early interventions to infants and young children: enhancing the social-emotional competencies of infants and young children, examining barriers to service for the birth to five population, and promoting the development of mental health professionals equipped to work with young children with behavior challenges.
Enhancing the Social Emotional Competencies of Infants and Young Children
The Pyramid Model for Promoting the Social-Emotional Competence of Infants and Young Children is an evidence-based framework that was developed to strengthen the capacity of early learning professionals to enhance the social-emotional competence of infants and young children (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph, & Strain, 2006). This research team will work along with various initiatives in the state to discover ways to make the implementation of the model more effective and more efficient. Current projects include the development of a coaching manual and assessment of teacher perceptions regarding self-competence in Pyramid Model practices.
Barriers to Service for the Birth to Five Population
Although research has indicated that interventions are both more effective and cost less when they are implemented earlier, many children in the birth to five population are not getting the services that they need. My prior research looked specifically at barriers to early intervention services in the state of New Jersey (Giordano, 2008). This research team will continue the work in this area, discovering various barriers to services and providing recommendations to improve systems to ensure eligible children are receiving the services they need.
Promoting the Development of Mental Health Professionals Equipped to Work with Children with Behavior Challenges
In order to properly serve children ages birth to five, there needs to be enough mental health professionals qualified to deliver these services. Currently, it is challenging to find psychologists who are willing and able to effectively work with infants and young children. This team will investigate reasons why more psychologists are not looking to treat this population as well as develop strategies to effectively train more professionals to work with this group.
Aaron A. Gubi, Ph.D.
Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology
Director, Center for Autism Assessment and Research Services Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology
My clinical and research interests focus on promoting well-being among children and adolescents, with a special emphasis on working with children from diverse racial/ethnic and cultural backgrounds and developmental experiences. In particular, my research teams will be working to improve dissemination and treatment practices among children who have experienced childhood maltreatment and trauma, come from diverse racial/ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and who are impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Adrienne Garro and I will be working together with students on many of these projects, and we welcome and value input and collaboration from students and colleagues on all of our work.
Mental Health in the Schools Research Team
The schools hold great potential to alleviate inequality in society. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, too many students often struggle to excel or graduate in school. This research team works to facilitate student well-being and promote positive institutions, by working with adolescents and school professionals to promote both social-emotional and academic well-being among diverse student learners, with particular focuses on youth who have experienced maltreatment/trauma, substance abuse, and other challenges. We are currently providing consultation services and implementing evidence-based practices with students impacted by substance abuse and other comorbid mental health challenges within the Raymond J. Lesniak Recovery High School, a public high school that is part of the Union County Public Schools and is located on the Kean University campus. In addition, we are working in collaboration with other professionals to create an online training experience for school psychologists and school counselors, to further disseminate the impact that child maltreatment and trauma can have on developmental trajectories and subsequent behaviors in school settings.
Diversity Practices Research Team
School psychologists increasingly serve children and families from diverse socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, sexual orientation and linguistic backgrounds. Research suggests that to improve care to children from diverse urban settings, school psychology needs to better understand and promote multicultural competency among all practitioners while at the same time seek to improve the recruitment of individuals from diverse backgrounds into the school psychology profession (Bocanegra, Newell, and Gubi, 2016). This research team is working on two projects, related to these aims. To better understand the state of research within the field, members of our team are working on a survey to better understand the multicultural awareness and understanding pertaining to assessment and intervention practices within the schools (Gubi, Bocanegra, & Dobbins, 2015). Opportunities are also available to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions to develop an evidence-based approach to improve the recruitment of diverse individuals into the profession of school psychology (Bocanegra, Gubi, Fan and Hansmann, 2015).
Center for Autism Assessment and Research Services
For a variety of reasons still largely unknown, 1:68 children nationally are now diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism assessment services are in high need, yet few providers are trained in evidence-based procedures. Accessing high quality care is particularly challenging for many lower-income families residing within the urban areas surrounding Kean University. As director of the Center for Autism Assessment and Research Services (CAARS) within the Kean Psychological Services Clinic, I will work to ensure that doctoral students will have opportunities to gain supervised experiences administering evidence-based autism assessment practices and to engage in recruitment, outreach, psychoeducation and dissemination to advance understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders within the community. We are also in the beginning stages of initiating a research program through the clinic, and it is expected that research opportunities will be available through this endeavor.
Jennifer Block Lerner, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator, Combined School and Clinical Psychology program
Specific lines of research/clinical outreach include:
Developing problem-focused and wellness-based skills workshops and related resources for undergraduate and graduate students at Kean and other local colleges/universities. Such programming aims to maximize intrapersonal, interpersonal (e.g., see Block-Lerner, Adair, Plumb, Rhatigan, & Orsillo, 2007), and interprofessional (Lenda, Block-Lerner, & Marks, in progress) functioning. Specific areas of study within this line of work include:
- Examining predictors of receptivity to brief interventions (Barrasso, Block-Lerner, Wolanin, Marks, & Kowarz, in preparation; Danitz, Orsillo, Lenda, Shortway, & Block-Lerner, accepted for publication)
- Investigating potential of curriculum-based and other broadly implemented interventions (Block-Lerner & Cardaciotto, edited book in preparation)
- Examining associations between processes fostered by these interventions and individuals’ sense of campus connectedness and, ultimately, retention and graduation rates (e.g., Shortway et al., 2013; Varon et al., 2014)
Developing resources for families of children with special needs (i.e., to assist with coping and enhancing engagement [see Williston, Block-Lerner, Wolanin, & Gardner, 2014] in early intervention and related services) as well as those training to work with such children and their families
- Assessment and role of parental experiential avoidance (Ostrowski-Hilton, Colognori, Block-Lerner, Brandwein, & Masia-Warner, in preparation; Benedicks et al., in preparation)·
- Experimental and related research designed to elucidate active ingredients and processes of change inherent in acceptance and mindfulness-based behavioral interventions (see Block-Lerner, Salters-Pedneault, & Tull, 2005; Kowarz, Block-Lerner, Wolanin, Marks, & Barrasso, in preparation).
Donald R. Marks, Psy.D.
Director of Kean Psychological Services and Coordinator of Clinical Training