My Research Agenda

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An Adobe® Acrobat PDF of my research agenda is available for download here.

My research interests are underscored by multiculturalism, social justice, and access. When designing research, I build upon constructivist epistemologies and systemic/ecological theories, which are congruent with my identities as a counselor and educator. In this way my approaches to counseling, teaching, and supervising interweave with the ways that I conceptualize and design research. I value personal reflexivity when approaching questions quantitatively or qualitatively, as I believe that my own biases intersect with sampling, data collection, and data analysis. I value both quantitative and qualitative research, as I conceptualize them as complementary approaches that answer different questions and produce unique ways of viewing a construct that, when taken together, paint a more holistic picture.

My long term research agenda is focused on evidence based counseling practice, particularly counselor factors that enhance client wellbeing and mental health. I am in the process of writing a conceptual manuscript in which I summarize the current body of evidence based practice research, provide activities that educators can use to develop cognitive complexity, and suggest directions for future research. I conceptualize this manuscript as foundational to future research exploring the role that counselor cognitive complexity plays in client outcomes. This line of research is novel and requires operationally defining cognitive complexity as well as developing quantitative measures of counselor cognitive complexity across intersecting client cultural identities. Following instrument development and the collection of psychometric data, I envision myself evaluating the extent to which counseling outcome variance is accounted for by counselor cognitive complexity. After exploring the relationship between counselor cognitive complexity and client outcomes, I plan to explore strategies, methods, and techniques that counselor educators can use to encourage students’ cognitive complexity development. I plan to apply for funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Aging, and other National Institutes of Health so that I can pursue this extensive line of research.

Through my dissertation study I began exploring potential means for counselors to support the mental health of older adults who are transitioning into assisted living facilities. The study, which is titled Stories of Change: Experiences of Older Adults Transitioning into Assisted Living Communities, used narrative methodology to set the stage for additional research exploring counseling outcomes within assisted living communities. The outcomes from this research include videos of participants’ narratives as well as the written dissertation. I am in the process of exploring additional means for disseminating my findings. This research is timely given pending federal legislation that, if passed, will provide counselors with access to Medicare reimbursement. The study has implications for older adults and their family members as well as counselor educators and practitioners. I see this research converging with my research agenda regarding counseling effectiveness, as my dissertation will provide me with a foundation to evaluate counseling outcomes in assisted living facilities and to pursue funding from the National Institute on Aging.

I am building on research experience I have gained during my doctoral program by working with a small research team, led by Dr. Betty Cardona, to apply for a National Institutes of Health R03 grant. Our application was successfully submitted to the NIH in July 2016 and we anticipate the application being reviewed in October 2016. The grant, which is titled Practices to Reduce Perceived Stigma and Improve Health in Patients Diagnosed with Cancer, will be used to pilot test an instrument that we developed to explore the relationships between stigma and mental and physical health outcomes. This project ties in with my identity as a researcher as we aim to develop a systemic conceptualization that will serve as a foundation for social justice advocacy. If funded, this research line will likely continue well into the future, given the complex nature of the variables under investigation as well as an ongoing need for program development, implementation, and outcome evaluation. We hope to fund future studies through a more substantial National Cancer Institute R01 grant. The process of applying for this grant has provided me with experience with instrument development and psychometric evaluation, which is valuable given my long term research agenda.