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Study Group

Ongoing Research Projects

Cultural Adjustment Group for Recent Immigrant Students in Paterson, NJ

A cultural adjustment group that is held during after school programs in the Paterson, NJ area. The program is offered in multiple languages (Spanish, Bangla, Arabic) and provided to multiple grade levels (Middle - High School). The group was designed to assist Immigrant students in the acculturation process in order to adjust to life in the US. Has been administered both in-person and through tele-health formats.


Team Leads: Gladyz Martinez, Abigail Sanchez, Dr. Torres, Dr. Ma

Research Assistants: Nicole Guevara, Andrea Ortiz, Bayron Ovalle, Amy German, and Eduardo Hernandez

The Impact of Tabletop Roleplaying Games (TTRGS) on Gender Dysphoria in Trans and Non-binary Adults

Our qualitative study seeks to determine the impact that tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) with Trans and Non-binary adults who experience gender dysphoria. In this study, we will examine if this impact is a protective factor against the development and maintenance of gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a diagnosis within the DSM-V and, “refers to the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender” (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Although not every trans or non-binary individual will experience distress that is related to their gender identity not matching their sex assigned at birth, the impairment associated with this form of dysphoria is significant for this community.

Additionally, research has shown that Trans and Non-binary adults often experience the impact of gender dysphoria at both clinically impairing (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) and non-clinically impairing levels (Galupo et al., 2020). This study intends to seek out the specific aspects of tabletop roleplay that may reduce the impact of gender dysphoria in in Trans and Non-binary adults, and if these impacts normalize and actualize the players gender identity. It is hypothesized that Trans and Non-binary adults TTRPG players may experience less gender dysphoria during play given that selecting a character whose gender identity and pronouns match their own may provide a gender-euphoric experience for the player and allow them to self-actualize their gender identity through play the challenges and obstacles that they may face outside of gameplay.

Team Lead: Nuu Grenier (they/them)

Research Assistants: Hannah Botjer, Bayron Ovalle, Agnes Benny, and Israel 

Veteran Perspectives: Perceived Impact of Identity and Provider Veteran Status in Treatment. A Qualitative Study

A qualitative study examining the experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of military veterans who have received psychotherapy from veteran and/or nonveteran clinicians following separation from military service. The study seeks to explore several domains within this population, including client-therapist matching preferences, perception and influence of provider military cultural competence, salience of veteran identity, and how these domains influence therapeutic alliance and treatment satisfaction. The protocol is currently approved, and I am in the recruiting stage.

Team Lead: Joe Wrobleski

Research Assistants: Eduardo Hernandez, Doug Vossen, Deanna Enunwa, Sarah Saad

Experiences of Discrimination for Latinx Students and Their Connection To Campus

Team Lead: Brayan Ospina

Research Assistants: Eduardo Hernandez, Andrea Ortiz, and Dionicio Hernandez

Exploring The Impact of Childhood Corporal Punishment on Self-Esteem and Attachment Styles in North African and Middle Eastern Adults

Team Lead: Nisrine Fettah

Research Assistants: Sama Jaber, Deanna Enunwa, Daniella Palmieri, and Christine Varghese 

Diversity in the Doctoral Program Curriculum (Qualitative)

Culturally informed pedagogy in graduate training programs has evolved in order to train aspiring professionals who serve the needs of a diverse population. For example, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing states,  “Increasing globalization of healthcare and the diversity of this nation’s population mandates an attention to diversity in order to provide safe, high quality care.” There is, however, little guidance on how to develop, integrate, and implement such pedagogy within a graduate training program. With support from the FGRIP, a grounded theory analysis will be proposed to develop a research-based model for integrating and implementing a culturally informed curriculum for doctoral programs in clinical psychology. Additionally, the model will be developed to be applicable to programs in education and the health sciences and an online manual will be developed to facilitate its broad dissemination.

Team Lead: Dr. Torres and Dr. Ernst

Research Assistants: Joe Wrobelski, Nicole Guevara, and Doug Vossen 

Past Research Projects

Project SAFER

A qualitative study that investigates the experience of Chinese immigrant parents coping with Covid and anti-Asian racism at the onset of Covid. Currently in the data coding stage.

Team Lead: Christine Wang

Research Assistants: Brittany Juncosa, Nafin Elias

Lived Experience, immigration, family separation, and resilience

Our qualitative exploration seeks to elucidate the ways in which immigration-related family separation impacts individual and family functioning. The central aim of the project is to identify the protective and resiliency factors that individuals draw upon to navigate their complex experiences of immigration, acculturation, and family separation. Through exploration of participants' lived experiences, the research seeks to highlight which supports are needed to improve the psychological functioning and overall adjustment of youth who endure family separation in this context. While the negative mental health sequelae following immigration-related family separation have been well-documented in the literature, it remains unclear to best support the children and families impacted by these experiences—both during the phases of separation and subsequent to family reunification. Our research efforts convey our commitment to developing appropriate trauma-informed services to promote resiliency, post-traumatic growth, and healthy family attachments.

Team Lead: Fernanda Moura

Research Assistants: Jennifer Pineda, Arohan Rimal, Kimberly Perez-Lucero, Jacob Perone, Sydney Cheron, Christine Wang, Joe Wrobleski

Coping Strategies Associated with Decreased Mental Health Symptoms Among College Students Who Experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences

The purpose of this research study is to further examine coping strategies used among college students who experienced adverse childhood experiences, and the impact these experiences and coping strategies have on mental health outcomes. The research study will examine the relationship between coping strategies and mental health symptoms as well as substance use behaviors among a diverse sample of college students who experienced childhood trauma. 

Team Lead: Bryan Alava

Research Assistants: Christine Wang, Avianne Smith-Cordice, Jennifer Pineda, Nisrine Fetteh, Nicole Guevara

Views of Mental Illness, Treatment, and Stigma in the Orthodox Jewish Community

This qualitative study seeks to understand the views of the Orthodox Jewish community regarding mental illness and treatment. This includes the underlying factors and presentation of the stigma of mental illness in the Orthodox Jewish community. Additionally, this research study aims to study the unique factors that may hinder or promote the availability and accessibility of services in the community, as well as future implications for mental health services in tight-knit religious communities.   

Team Lead: Chana Becher

Research Assistants: Nisrine Fetteh, Pat Scensny, Joe Wrobleski, Jacob Perone, Christine Varghese, Kimberly Perez-Lucero

Dispositional factors and the disclosure of autobiographical memory in children

Our study seeks to examine dispositional factors that facilitate the disclosure of autobiographical memories among children. Autobiographical memories (AM) include memories related to the self and personal events. In the absence of AM disclosure, there would be limited material for use in clinical assessment or psychotherapy. The aim of this study is to better understand if/how dispositional factors (e.g., personality, anxiety, inhibitory control) may be associated with the disclosure of valenced (i.e., positive and negative) experiences (i.e., autobiographical memories) in children between the ages of 8-10.  This research will shed light on potential implications for clinical work with children, to facilitate treatment and assessment of this population.

Team Lead: Raghad Hassabelnaby

Research Assistants: Nisrine Fetteh, Christine Varghese

Immigrant Youth Clinical Symptoms

The purpose of this study is to describe the psychological symptoms, family separations and acculturative stress reported by Latinx, Middle Eastern and Bangladeshi middle-school newcomer immigrant students who moved to the U.S. within the last 36 months and are participating in 3 separate pilot in-school intervention programs in an inner-city environment in NJ.

Team Lead: Dr. Torres

Research Assistants: Dr. Ma, Avianne Smith-Cordice, Tarek Hijazi

Microaggressions and Clinical Symptoms 

Racial microaggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities” that suggest disparaging, or negative racial snubs or insults (Sue et al., 2007, p. 273). This study explored the relationship of racial microaggressions and general psychological symptoms, and also compared differences in the frequency of these experiences across racial groups. Data was obtained from the Racial Microaggressions Scale (RMAS), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Ethnic Identity Scale (EIS). The sample consisted of 592 individuals self-identifying as White, Black/African American, Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Multiracial. Finally, this study hypothesized that negative ethnic identity affirmations would moderate the relationship between microaggressions and clinical symptoms.  

Team Lead: Dr. Torres

Research Assistants: Bryan Alava, Fernanda Moura, Avianne Smith-Cordice, Christopher Watkins, Keshani Perera

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