Jennifer Whitney, M.A. - Lab Manager
Jen is a first year doctoral student who is currently managing the Culture and Mental Health Research Lab. She is also a meditation and yoga teacher throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and has led a Mindful Self-Care community in the Psychology Department at NSSR. She is interested in the intersection of Contemplative Practices and Psychotherapy. Her Masters Thesis worked on developing an observer measure of mindfulness practice, and how meditation and mindfulness impact close personal relationships. She’s interested in how meditation impacts both close and therapeutic interpersonal spaces, with a special interest in cross-racial therapy dyads. Currently, Jen is an RA on the Mindfulness-Based Critical Consciousness Training, as well as on a meta-analysis for the prosocial effects of meditation and mindfulness. She also teaches yoga and meditation for trauma populations, and hopes to integrate that into her studies as well. Jen is happy to help out, especially those new to the program at NSSR and encourages you to get in touch.
Jordan Dunn, M.A.
Jordan is a doctoral student in the Chang lab, conducting a study on therapy process and outcome for White patients working with therapists of color. Jordan's scholarly, professional and activist pursuits since moving to NYC from Iowa ten years ago have led to an abiding interest in cultural diversity. Previously, Jordan conducted ethnographic fieldwork on LGBT Latina/os' experiences of belonging in Spain. He has also been involved in projects on ruptures to the working alliance between Latina/o patients and their mental health providers, Black and Latino gay men's decision-making regarding substance use and safer sex, and first sessions between therapists of color and White patients. Jordan is a member of the New School DREAM Team, a student organization which works to make the university more accessible to undocumented students.
He is the team leader for the Therapists of Color Systematic Review.
Iris Miao, M.A.
Iris is a third year doctoral student who is currently managing the Culture and Mental Health Research lab. Originally from the south of China, she has always been fascinated by the interplay between cultural orientation and mental health. She has been involved with the Taoist Cognitive Therapy Project since 2013 and is currently working on studies exploring the relationship between Taoism orientation and psychological well-being. She also works with Chinese immigrants with history of breast cancer and learns about their struggles with acculturation process. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga and meditation, and sometimes experimenting vegetarian recipes.
Maryam Omidi, M.A.
Maryam is a first year doctoral student who is currently an RA for the Therapists of Color project. Her Masters Thesis used PAR to develop a research project for mental health resources for the street homeless community in the neighborhood of her co-investigators.
Sara Waters, M.S., LMHC
Sara has been an RA the Culture & Mental Health Lab since 2011, and is leading a project exploring first sessions in cross-racial therapy. She is also collaborating on a qualitative project examining how intersecting cultural identities emerge and are negotiated in the therapeutic relationship. She recently presented the findings at the 2013 Diversity Challenge. Sara also is leading a third project on sexual orientation as a dimension of patient identity in racially mismatched therapy dyads. Sara is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with extensive experience working with diverse communities and a long history of social justice advocacy, including serving as mental health expert witness for asylum seekers due to persecution or torture. She is committed to psychological research that recognizes the centrality of culture and the function of privilege in intercultural interactions, and that advances culturally-grounded therapeutic interventions. See Sara's CV here.
Sophia Williams, M.A.
Growing up, I was often asked, “What are you?” I found this question painful. What is your intent, I wondered? What about my presence elicits curiosities about my constitution? At a young age, I realized that I was visible and my body, my skin, my hair, my voice, my being was being evaluated in ways that I did not fully understand. Scholars interested in ethnic-racial identity development describe these moments as “racial awakenings” or moments when people of color are confronted with their otherness. I was no older than 9 when my otherness became salient and my journey to understand this and similar experiences began. I am in my third year of doctoral studies and my interest in the experience of Blackness continues.
Currently, my research examines dimensions of Black American identity inside and outside of the therapeutic context. Because of the nature of the Black experience within the American context, I believe it is important to employ a multicultural and interdisciplinary framework for my research. For this reason, my work is informed not only by theories of psychotherapy but also by sociology, anthropology, feminist and Black studies scholars.
My research and experience have shown me that the Black American experience is complicated and conjures up complex emotions for many. My narrative is not unique. Instead, my experience is one example of how structural oppression and personal identity are in constant conversation. It is from the perspective of ongoing exploration and maturation that I support students and clients as they grapple with their evolving sense of self. And together, we grow.
Hillary Litwin, M.A. - Hillary received her BA and MA degrees in psychology (with a specialty track in mental health and substance abuse counseling) from the New School. She is the director of the S-WAI-O cultural adaptation team, which has presented work at the Society for Psychotherapy Research conference, the American Psychological Association convention, and the World Congress for Cultural Psychiatry. At SPR's 49th international meeting in Amsterdam, Hillary was the recipient of the Kenneth Howard Travel Award, which was one of the three highest awards for a first time student presenter. She is the team leader for the SWAIO Coding Group
Megan Blocker, M.A.
Nancy Ng, M.A.
Nancy is a 4th year PhD student involved in the Cross-Racial Therapy Project and the Taoist Cognitive Therapy Project. Her research interests center on the roles of race, ethnicity, and culture in therapeutic processes involving Asian Americans. As an Asian American growing up in Hong Kong and coming to the U.S. at a young age, Nancy understands the struggle families go through during the acculturation process. She was a member of AmeriCorps and is an active member of the Asian American Mental Health Coalition and Brooklyn Chinese American Association, where she continues to provide mental health services and outreach to the Asian American community.