Program Faculty

 

David Brandwein, Psy.D.

Associate Professor
Associate Coordinator of Clinical Training
dbrandwe@kean.edu

 

Research Interests

1. 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.

2. 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.

Associate Professor
Program Coordinator, School Psychology Professional Diploma program
agarro@kean.edu

 

Research Interests

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
Assistant Professor
kgiordan@kean.edu

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.

Assistant Professor
Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology
Director, Center for Autism Assessment and Research Services Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology
Kean University
gubia@kean.edu

 

Research Interests

My clinical and research interests focus on promoting well-being among children and adolescents, with a special emphasis on promoting positive youth development among 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.

Positive Psychology in the Schools Research Team

The schools hold great potential to alleviate inequality in society.  Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, urban students too often struggle to graduate or excel in school.  This research team will investigate strength-based, positive psychological approaches to enhancing positive youth development among diverse adolescents in urban and alternative school settings.  In particular, this research team will work to foster 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.

Diversity Practices Research Team

School psychologists increasingly serve children and families from diverse socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, 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, under review).  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.

Associate Professor
Program Coordinator, Combined School and Clinical Psychology program
jlerner@kean.edu

 

Research Interests

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.

Assistant Professor
Director of Kean Psychological Services and Coordinator of Clinical Training
domarks@kean.edu

Research Interests

The Health Psychology and Trauma Studies research team will examine a broad range of health-related psychological concerns with special emphasis on the long-term health consequences of trauma in early life (e.g., Probst, Wells-Di Gregorio, & Marks, 2013). The relationship between trauma exposure and symptoms of burnout in a variety of employment settings will also be examined. A mindfulness-based program for prevention of burnout in high stress medical professions (e.g., nursing, child protective services workers, nursing home caregivers) is also in development (Duchemin, Klatt, & Marks, in press). These programs involve collaboration with occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, and other professionals working in health care settings. In addition, new initiatives in collaboration with the Kean Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program will examine community-based interventions for trauma and provide opportunities for the development and evaluation of psychological and physiological outcomes of community trauma interventions. 
 
The Health Psychology and Trauma Studies research team also will implement and evaluate mindfulness- and acceptance preventive medicine and health promotion interventions, including individual treatment and group programs for many aspects of physical health and well-being:
    • Reducing stress reactivity
    • Living effectively with chronic pain
    • Quitting smoking and preventing relapse
    • Increasing vitality, reducing burnout and fatigue
    • Boosting immune function
    • Losing weight and eating well
 
These programs make use of empirically supported interventions, including mindfulness-based stress reduction and acceptance and commitment therapy.
 
Interventional Research Opportunities
The Health Psychology and Trauma Studies research team also will offer opportunities to examine effectiveness of the following interventions and to research processes that potentially contribute to intervention outcomes:
 
ACT for Chronic Pain
Kean Psychological Services also provides individual treatment and time-limited group programs that offer new ways to manage chronic pain, including strategies that can help you get the most out of life even when your pain persists. Participants learn about ways that efforts to avoid and control pain can backfire and lead to an increased sensitivity to pain. Using strategies derived from the latest clinical science, the world’s ancient wisdom traditions, and the practical experience of people with pain, these programs help individuals with chronic pain get their lives back, cultivating more enjoyment and refocusing their efforts on what they value most.    
 
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a program of attention training and body awareness that has been demonstrated to improve immune functioning, reduce worry, alter the awareness and effects of chronic pain, increase engagement in valued activities, and improve quality of life. Developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, MBSR has been used in clinics and hospitals around the world to help patients with chronic stress, illness, and pain lead more active and fulfilling lives. The program consists of an 8-week course, meeting one evening per week for approximately 2 and 1/2 hours. Between the fourth and fifth weeks participants attend a retreat-day, which is a 1-day program lasting approximately 7 hours. Activities in the course include a variety of awareness practices, including daily meditation practice and gentle Hatha yoga. 
 
Mindfulness in Motion
Mindfulness in Motion is an 8-week mindfulness-based program that was developed specifically for professionals whose schedules preclude the time commitments required by traditional MBSR. Developed by Dr. Maryanna Klatt at The Ohio State University, Mindfulness in Motion has been shown to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue, improve sleep quality, and contribute to overall improvements in quality of life. The program consists of weekly sessions lasting 1 hour each. The fifth session is a half-day, 4-hour program that replaces the retreat-day of traditional MBSR. Greater emphasis is placed on Hatha yoga to increase awareness of the body and address stress-related tension and fatigue. Exercises for daily practice are also reduced in length, so that practitioners can achieve attention-training, relaxation, and physical exercise benefits with a practice of 15 to 20 minutes per day. 
 

 

 

Andrew Wolanin, Psy.D.

Director, Department of Advanced Studies in Psychology
Assistant Professor
awolanin@kean.edu

 

Research Interests

Clinical Sport Psychology: The focus of this research team will be to develop an increased understanding of clinical issues that occur in athletes and the subsequent relationship to athletic performance and overall well being.  Current research is ongoing examining the prevalence of depression in college athletes, impression management among college athletes, and psychological response to injury and rehabilitation (DeGaetano, J. Wolanin A.T. & Marks, D., under review).  The theoretical model of this team is based on the mindfulness- and acceptance-based approach developed by Gardner and Moore (2004, 2007), which is consistent with the third-wave behavioral therapies, such as acceptance-commitment therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999).

Assessment Clinic: Learning Disabilities, Psychopathology, Risk Assessment (Adult): This team will focus on the study of psychological assessment tools to provide evidenced based predictions of future performance and behaviors. Of particular emphasis will be psychological assessment of college age adults with learning disabilities, ADHD, and other psychopathology assessment of occupational and forensic referral questions.  This team will also continue the psychometric development of new measures to seek increased prediction of behaviors in specific environments (Roemer et al, under review) and development of competency assessment (Smith-Casey, in progress).

Updated 9/17/14