Research

I initially entered the field of psychology to be a bereavement researcher. Having observed the profound distress associated with losses of all kinds, I coupled my fascination with human resilience with my belief in the tremendous healing potential of the psychotherapeutic process. I was intrigued to know more about how grievers maneuver through and eventually adapt to painful and difficult loss experiences, especially when, for some people, their grief journey is exacerbated by little or poor-quality social support, deeply distressing spiritual struggles, or the added trauma of losing a loved one suddenly and violently, such as through murder, suicide, or an accidental fatality.

My program of research bears on issues of death, dying, loss, and grief, which informs the psychotherapy I provide to clients. For instance, results from my studies with colleagues at the University of Memphis and elsewhere have highlighted the role of social support in facilitating the bereavement experience, especially when the support is satisfying and needed. However, in other cases, we found that when social support was lacking or otherwise “negative” that it made the grief experience for many people much more difficult. Our studies also revealed the unique relation between bereavement distress and a crisis of faith, especially for individuals who are grieving a loved one who was murdered, committed suicide, or died in fatal accident. Such findings prompted us to develop and validate a scale to measure spiritual distress in bereavement, called the Inventory of Complicated Spiritual Grief.

Please see my downloadable publication list to access links to peer-reviewed papers on these and other research findings. Click here to invite me to speak to your group or association about my research or clinical areas of focus.

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

2015 – present Research Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology, University of Memphis
2016 – present Principal Investigator
Inventory of Complicated Spiritual Grief—2.0 (ICSG-2.0): Validation of a Revised Measure of Spiritual Distress in Bereavement,
Department of Psychology, University of Memphis
2016 – 2017 Bereavement Expert/Co-investigator
Grief Inquiry Following Tragedy (GIFT): Development of an Internet-based Application to Support Self-monitoring for Bereaved Individuals; Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e) Industrial Design Department, Designed Intelligence Research Group; Wan Jou (Lavender) She, M.A., Doctoral Candidate, Dissertation
2016 – 2017 Graduate Faculty Scholar/Co-investigator
Coping Assessment for Bereavement and Loss Experiences (CABLE): Development of a New Instrument;
College of Graduate Studies, University of Central Florida; A. Elizabeth Crunk, M.S., Dissertation Committee
2013 – 2015 Bereavement Consultant, Clinical Advisory Board
Project ADAPT: Improving Bereavement Resilience: A Pilot Online Bereavement Writing Intervention
Co-Principal Investigators: Michelle Pearce, PhD & Debra Weigand, RN, PhD, FAAN
University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Medicine/School of Nursing
2014 – 2015 Executive Director
Institute for the Study of Loss and Transition Portland, OR
2012 – 2015 Co-Principal Investigator/Project Coordinator
Project ARC: Assessing Responses to a Veteran Family Member’s Palliative Care Experiences
Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center
2010 – 2013 Co-Principal Investigator/Project Coordinator
Project INSPIRIT: Investigating Natural Spiritual Processes in Response to Incidents of Trauma
Center for the Study of Loss and Transition
Department of Psychology, University of Memphis
2008 – 2009 Project Coordinator
Project BRAVEHearts: Bereavement Responses After Violent Experiences
Center for the Study of Loss and Transition
Department of Psychology, University of Memphis