CEHD News Family Social Science

CEHD News Family Social Science

Doherty delivers call to follow our “better angels”

Professor at podium.
Bill Doherty, author, family therapist and professor in the Department of Family Social Science, delivered the CEHD Graduate Commencement address. Photo by Julie Michener.

Bill Doherty,  professor in the Department of Family Social Science, delivered the address at the College of Education and Human Development’s Graduate Commencement Ceremonies Thursday, May 10.

An educator, researcher, couple and family therapist, author, consultant, and community organizer, Doherty joined the University of Minnesota’s Department of Family Social Science in 1986, and has been a leader in preparing professionals for effective democratic engagement and conducting community-based research projects that advance knowledge and solve local problems.

Developing his Families and Democracy Framework, Bill has been testing his theories over the past year in workshops with the non-profit, Better Angels, that build bridges between “red and blue” citizens in communities across America. Citizens on both sides of the divide enter Bill’s workshops polarized and defensive, and leave connected, transformed – healed.

In his remarks, he discussed this recent work and challenged graduates to join him in this work.

GRADUATE STUDENT COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the political world has changed since you entered graduate school.  We are now in the throes of a political polarization that some historians believe is the worst we’ve seen the 1850s. And it didn’t start in November 2016.  The last presidential election brought to a head a process that has been coming upon us for at least 50 years.  I’ll give just one data point as an illustration:  In 1960 5% of Americans said they would be uncomfortable with their son or daughter marrying someone of the other political party.  Now that figure has reached 35-40%.  Today Americans increasingly view their political opponents not only as misguided, but also as bad people whose ways of thinking are both dangerous and incomprehensible. This current degree of civic rancor between red America and blue America threatens our families, as people pull away from family members who vote another way, and our democracy itself, which is based on our ability to work together across differences for the common good.  The United States is disuniting.

How’s that for an upbeat start to a commencement address?

So why do I come today filled with the hope that we can get past this polarization and with the conviction that individuals with the training you’ve had in this College can make a difference?  For starters, education and human development are fundamentally about relationships.  As much as anything else, your graduate degree is in how to form and nurture productive relationships, without which our specialized academic knowledge is barren.  Relationships are the natural antidote to polarization because polarization (and I would add other social ills like racism) is sustained when we don’t know one other, when we don’t have civic friendships, when we stay in our silos, watch our favorite media, and talk about the other group and not with them.

Of course there is a long way from this generalization about relationships to actually moving the needle towards depolarization, especially when our news feeds constantly inflame us and our Facebook contacts spout what we see as dangerous nonsense.  How do we design settings or containers where people with different political views can come together in a productive way?

I’ve been involved in such a project, called Better Angels (after Lincoln’s phrase “the better angels of our nature”).  Better Angels is a grassroots citizen’s initiative bringing red and blue Americans together in a working alliance to depolarize America.  It took off after the last election when we decided to bring together 10 Clinton voters and 10 Trump voters for a weekend in southwest Ohio.  My job was to design and facilitate the gathering, and to say that I was nervous would be an understatement.  I quickly realized that the goals had to focus on understanding each other beyond stereotypes and looking for common ground, and that the process had to be highly structured and feature listening and learning rather than declaring and debating.  Well, the workshop was successful beyond our expectations and it launched a small movement.  Since that first workshop, Better Angels has gone national, with three hour and six hour workshops happening in 24 states, some of them leading to the formation of Better Angels Alliances, groups of Republicans and Democrats working together to promote depolarization in their communities and to advocate for policies where they have common ground—like gerrymandering and money in politics.  We have one of those red/blue alliances in Minnesota.

I’ll tell you just one story from the Ohio workshop.  Greg Smith came as pro-Trump, white Christian conservative determined to convince others to support Trump, and Kouhyar Mostashfi came as a Muslim Iranian immigrant Democrat with fears that the country could turn violent because of forces now unleashed.  Well, Greg and Kouhyar ended up sitting next to each other during the workshop.  By the end they had agreed to visit each other’s houses of worship.  They are now co-chairs of the Southwest Ohio Better Angels Alliance and will be featured in a forthcoming PBS documentary about that workshop.  They are still a conservative and a liberal but with a common cause to rebuild the civic fabric of their community.

On this occasion as we celebrate the attainment of a graduate degree in the College of Education and Human Development, I want to challenge the graduates to create containers or processes in your classrooms, counseling offices, and community centers for a kind of diversity that we’ve not emphasized very much until recently—namely, political diversity.  How can we create environments that allow conservatives and liberals, reds and blues, to engage each other productively, with both sides feeling respected?  Among other things, it will mean understanding that many of our favorite terms have become “colorized” in today’s environment.  Some of us frame goals in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and social justice—all good things, but thoroughly blue in language and therefore alienating to reds who fear that the starting premise will be that they are racists—and then let’s work together from there.  The shoe would be on the other foot if blues were invited to a conversation based on the language of love of country, the American experiment, and self-responsibility.  I’ve learned that productive conversation in a polarized environment cannot start with my insistence that the other side accept my preferred terms for what we are here to do.

Now this depolarization work is not just in classrooms and workshops; it’s in our hearts and minds as well.  My question for all of us here today is this:  How do we personally regard our fellow Americans who differ from us strongly in politics and public policy? Maybe you’ve heard the adage:  Choose your enemies carefully, for you will become like them.  Stated differently, if you demonize another group, you distort yourself and begin to look like a mirror image of them.  When we train moderators for Better Angels workshops, we ask them to self-assess their own emotional attitude towards the people on the other side of the political spectrum.  I invite you to think about where you are on a spectrum of attitudes I’ll describe. Keep in mind that this not how you may feel about an individual political leader but about the bulk of people on the other side—the over 40 million people who voted the other way in the last election.

The first attitude is hatred toward a group who are out to destroy the country.  I hope that’s not where most of us are with regards our fellow citizens.  The second attitude is more common: disdain for people who are ignorant and misguided—and who should know better. The third attitude is pity for others who have good intentions but are ignorant and led astray by bad leaders—and who need to be enlightened. The fourth attitude is basic respect: others who disagree with me have rational views but ultimately theirs is not the right approach to solving our nation’s problems.  The fifth attitude is respect and appreciation: the other side has views that need to be included in the ultimate solutions.   I’m convinced that we only shift in the direction of respect by first seeking to understand others as they understand themselves, and then telling them what we think.

As a family therapist, I’m trained to understand people who are locked in conflict, but the challenge in the public arena is that I’m part of the conflict. I do have a dog in this fight and I’m scared for the future of our democracy.  But I believe in my heart that most Americans really don’t really want a civic divorce and, when offered the right container for conversation and relationship building, will choose to access the better angels of their nature.

There is lots of work ahead.  As I said, today’s polarization didn’t start with the current President. It came from many sources that gradually tore the social fabric, with groups feeling left out and left behind, with our growing distrust of one another and of our social institutions, including colleges and universities.

Our democracy itself is at stake here.  Elections of course are won or lost, but they are only a small part of democracies. Democracy is mostly about how we come together and make decisions about our common lives. It’s about collective agency, about acting as “We the People,” in all our differences.  It’s the only way we can have healthy communities and effective governance.  As people sometimes say in Better Angels workshops, “We can’t wait for our elected leaders to start bringing us together. We have to begin ourselves.”

Abraham Lincoln presided over a country that was far more divided than the one we live in today. Yet he saw the promise of America in that dark time.  We’d do well to heed these ending words of his first Inaugural address:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

FSoS graduate and undergraduate students awarded scholarships and fellowships

The Family Social Science community wants to recognize the over 40 graduate and undergraduate students pursuing degrees in Family Social Science who have been awarded scholarships and fellowships for the 2018-2019 academic year and 2018 summer session.

We celebrate their academic achievements and look forward to what they will accomplish in the future!

Awards for the 2018-2019 academic year

Graduate student at podium.
MA/Ph.D. student Quin Morrow made her first presentation at the Society for Research on Adolescence national conference.

Family Social Science Fellowships and Scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year were awarded to 36 graduate students in the Department, including:

S. Okrey Anderson – Lucile Garley Blank Fellowship in Ambiguous Loss

Katie Arnold – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Kadie Ausherbauer – M. Janice Hogan Fellowship

Molly Bailey – Frances Dunning Fellowship

Emily Barstad – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Natasha Bell – Jean W. Bauer Family Economics and Policy Fellowship

Gretchen Buchanan– Ludden Trust

Student discussing research.
Master’s student Yiting Li discussed her work at CEHD Research Day.

Sarah Burcher – Ardell H. Wantoch Fellowship

Kayla Burningham – Letitia Walsh Memorial Fellowship

Jory Catalpa – Lucile Garley Blank Fellowship in Ambiguous Loss

Muzi Chen – Mary Ellen McFarland Assistantship

Daniel Cooper – M. Janice Hogan Fellowship

Catherine Dickinson – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Lekie Dwanyen – M. Janice Hogan Fellowship

Lisa Erbes – Family Education Teacher Preparation Fellowship

MA/Ph.D. student Jingchen Zhang discussed her research at a poster session during the SRA national conference.

Nusroon Fatiha – BAS – Knorr Endowed Fund for Fellowships in Family Education

Fathia Feerayarre – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Renada Goldberg – Shirley L. & Peter D. Zimmerman Fund for Family Policy

Eugene Hall – Marjorie Brown Family Social Science Fellowship

Hailey Holmgren – Letitia Walsh Memorial Fellowship

Seonghee Hong – Ragnhild E. Edwardson Fellowship

Alyssa Humpal – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Emily Jensen – David & Karen Olson Fellowship

Student at poster.
Ph.D. student SunKyung Lee at the CEHD Research Day.

Angela Keyzers – Marie Christenson Fellowship

Stacey Koehler – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Rebecca Koering – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Danielle Kreemer – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Sunkyung Lee – Ott International Student Fellowship and Roxanna Ford Fund

Yiting Li – Hauge Fellowship

Jennifer Luing – Foundation for Family Education Award

Joseph Maxwell – BAS – Knorr Endowed Fund for Fellowships in Family Education

Graduate student at a poster.
Ph.D. student Gretchen Buchanan discusses her work at a Society for Research on Adolescence poster session.

Kali Moore – Ford Foundation for Family Education Award

Quin Morrow – Florence Munson Wilson Fellowship

Alize Rattenni – HC & C Christofferson Fellowship

Kelly Tronstad – Jean Illsley Clark Fellowship for Parent Education

Jingchen Zhang – Roxanna Ford Fund and Ott International Student Fellowship

FSoS Summer 2018 UM UM Fellowship/Scholarship

For summer 2018, 21 graduate students will receive scholarships and fellowships from six funds.

Grad students at a conference.
Ph.D. students Natasha Bell, Sarah Burcher, Kadie Ausherbauer and Emily Jensen all presented papers or posters at the National Council on Family Relations.

Students who were awarded Waller Summer Fellowships are: S. Okrey Anderson, Pooja Brar, Gretchen Buchanan, Kayla Burningham, Muzi Chen, Amy Gunty, Hailey Holmgren, Aimee Hubbard, Emily Jensen, Vaida Kazlauskaite, Lijun Li, Demitri McGee, and Quin Morrow.

Four graduate students were awarded William & Georgina Olson Fellowships: Kadie Ausherbauer, Daniel Cooper, Angela Keyzers, and Jingchen Zhang.

In addition, Jacqueline Braughton received a scholarship from the Emma Whiteford Family Social Science Fund (MEd), Jory Catalpa was awarded a Robert E. Keane Fellowship in Ambiguous Loss, Lekie Dwanyen received a Priscilla Rugg Family Social Science Fellowship, and Sunkyung Lee was awarded an Amy Jean Holmblade Knorr Family Social Science Fellowship.

 

Undergraduate scholarships

College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and/or Family Social Science Funded scholarships were awarded to six undergraduate students.

Christine Stephanie and Chee Moua will receive the College of Education and Human Development’s Fibiger Award, Domonique Kent will receive a scholarship from CEHD’s Gamma Omicron Beta Endowment Fund, and Natalie Wimmer will receive a scholarship from the CEHD Alumni Society Family Social Science Future Scholar Fund. Eric Oropeza will receive a Beverly A. Busta Memorial Scholarship, Emily Keis will receive an Elizabeth D Cormack Endowed Scholarship, and Lydia Eichelberg will receive an award from the Mildred and Russell Gute Scholarship Fund.

 

FSoS undergrad to deliver student commencement speech

Family Social Science student
Cheniqua Johnson will deliver the student address at CEHD Commencement ceremonies. Photo supplied.

Cheniqua Johnson, who is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in Family Social Science, will deliver this year’s student commencement address at the College of Education and Human Development’s undergraduate ceremonies Thursday, May 10, 5:30 p.m.

She is the first person in her family to graduate from a four-year institution and is currently the Staff Assistant/Intern Coordinator for Congressman Keith Ellison. While a student, she was actively involved in several student groups and campus organizations, including Black Motivated Women, Black Student Union, CEHD Student Senate, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, TRIO Student Alliance, Undergraduate Student Advisory Board, and the U of M Women’s Center. She completed a policy internship in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and an internship in Washington D.C. through the Council for Opportunity in Education with the Office of Senator Richard J. Durbin.

Johnson is currently a New Sector RISE Fellow and a participant in the Dr. Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy, an intergenerational, year-long leadership training program for African American leaders in the Twin Cities. Her future plans include attending law school and building a career in public service.

(Information supplied by CEHD communications staff).

See a feature story on Cheniqua Johnson in The Globe, her hometown paper in Worthington, MN.

FSoS Professor Emeritus to lead ambiguous loss workshop

Dr. Pauline Boss, Professor Emeritus of Family Social Science, U of M. Photo supplied.

Based on her groundbreaking research and practice, Dr. Pauline Boss, a Family Social Science professor emeritus, will outline her six guidelines for understanding ambiguous loss in a half-day workshop Thursday, May 3 in McNeal Hall on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

Ambiguous loss is an unclear loss and thus without resolution. Boss has developed a training framework for professionals that offer ways to help individuals, couples, and families build resiliency by finding meaning, adjusting mastery, reconstructing identity, normalizing ambivalence, revisiting attachment, and discovering new hope. She also addresses relational and contextual assessments and interventions, cultural differences regarding the need for closure, the psychological family, and self-of-the-therapist issues.

Boss’s work began with military families facing the trauma of receiving the report of a loved one “Missing in Action” during the Vietnam War and developed as she helped individuals, families and first responders cope with chronic disease and disabilities, and disasters both natural and manmade – including the Attacks of September 11th in New York City.

According to Boss, ambiguous loss represents a unique type of loss that is arguably more stressful and difficult to cope with. Situated within the context(s) of human relationships, it carries no verification of death and/or certainty that the person being lost will ever return (physically or psychologically).

These efforts have informed and continue to evolve in collaboration with other scholars and practitioners worldwide who are aligning what they do in therapy, community engagement, and research with Boss’s pioneering concepts. Boss has been among those challenging the concept of “closure” – instead she advocates family and community-based approaches that “walk alongside people in finding meaning in their experiences and pain.”

When loved ones disappear physically or suffer from an illness that takes away their memory, when families are separated by forced migrations, when loss makes no sense (suicide, homicide), or when youth are fostered, adopted, or experience parental divorce, the lens of ambiguous loss guides therapists to treat situations of loss that have no solutions and where traditional PTSD and grief therapies are insufficient.

More about the workshop

The training will be videotaped. Participants may appear in the final video as part of audience shots/or asking questions. Consent forms will be collected the day of workshop.

For more information or questions, contact Jessica McLain. To register, visit: z.umn.edu/AmbiguousLossWorkshop

(Original material for this story supplied by FSoS Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall). 

Olson delivers compelling Cornerstone Symposium Lecture

Man speaking at podium.
FSoS Professor Emeritus David Olson delivered the Cornerstone Symposium Lecture. Photo by Julie Michener.

Would you compare your marriage or current romantic relationship to the I-35 bridge collapse? That was one of Dr. David Olson’s compelling questions during his Family Social Science Cornerstone Symposium Lecture April 5.

Olson, a Family Social Science professor emeritus, used the metaphor to illustrate how PREPARE/ENRICH, a relationship assessment tool that he developed, can provide critical insights into the quality of a relationship and help couples be proactive in heading off issues that could turn into major challenges.

In his illustration, Olson outlined some of the major facts that emerged in the investigation following the I-35 bridge collapse and how close they are related to what happens when a relationship begins to degrade.

  • Lack of meaningful assessment
  • Band-aide and inadequate fixes on key structures
  • Resistance by those involved to acknowledge issues
  • Too much stress

Olson used this sobering comparison because the statistics are sobering. The divorce rate in the United States still ranges from 40 to 50 percent of all marriages with an annual cost to society of over $110 billion. Not to mention the untold impacts on family health and well-being.

These are numbers that Olson has dedicated his life to reducing. Bridging research, theory, and practice was not only the title of his Cornerstone address, it has been the theme of his career’s work defining and conducting research around his Circumplex Model of family systems.

From hockey to larger arenas

The native Minnesotan’s journey began with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree in psychology from Wichita State University and a Ph.D. in Family Relations and Child Development from Penn State.

Olson said his experiences playing high school hockey illuminated his professional path to his early discoveries. Hockey helped him learn the value of diverse skills and understand the power and energy they can bring to a project.

As co-director of a longitudinal study of early marriage and family development at the National Institutes of Mental Health, he observed that there was very little information sharing between different teams of mental health researchers. They were all playing within their narrow silos and each had their own vocabulary for describing what they were learning in their research studies – even though they were all drawing from the same case studies of families.

When he began digging deeper into the work of the research teams as a whole, the dimensions that would form the conceptual foundation of the Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems began to emerge to him. Joining the U of M’s Department of Family Social Science in 1973, he continued his research into developing the three dimensions of the Circumplex model: cohesion, flexibility and communication.  Olson hypothesized that couples and families exhibiting balance on cohesion (closeness) and flexibility (ability to adapt) will experience fewer relationship problems and communicate better, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction.

Olson developed ten inventories/measures for research and clinical work with couples and families that assess satisfaction in a number of relationship categories and give participants insights into their relationship dynamic, commitment level, spiritual beliefs and personalities. Research around one of his assessments  ­– PREPARE (Premarital Personal and Relationship Evaluation) –  would disrupt the field of marriage and family therapy and draw widespread media attention.

Radical predictions

In the early 1980s, working with several of his doctoral students, Olson conducted a research study that demonstrated his premarital inventory could predict divorce with an accuracy rate of 80 to 86 percent.

Olson’s findings were so radical that editors at the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy wouldn’t publish the results. They asked Olson to re-do the study ­– which he did – with similar results. JMFT published the report in its October 1986 issue.

But even before the report was published, Olson’s compelling work was attracting the attention of colleagues and the media. He was invited to discuss his model at the 1985 International Congress on Families in Zurich, Switzerland, among others, and helped NBC Today Show Medical Expert Dr. Art Ulene create a 20-part series on family wellness in 1984.

Following the JMFT’s release, the New York Times highlighted his PREPARE assessment’s predictive quality more than once in articles about relationships and marriage. Geraldo Rivera featured him on his daytime talk show and Oprah brought in an entire audience of premarital couples to devote a show to PREPARE’s efficacy.

Olson himself has authored 20 books and contributed numerous chapters to colleague’s books as well as peer-reviewed articles and presentations. His relationship inventories – both for premarital and married couples – became so popular that Olson and his wife Karen founded a company (PREPARE/ENRICH) in 1980 to distribute them. Currently the relationship inventories have been translated into 12 languages and used by 2.5 million couples and families globally. Another measure, FACES (Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales) has been used in over 1,200 professional research studies.

Hope for the future

At the Cornerstone Symposium, Olson wasn’t resting on his considerable laurels. Even though he is stepping back from CEO duties as PREPARE/ENRICH transitions to its new parent company, Thrivent Financial, he was already looking forward to a new slate of initiatives that will be distributed digitally. The assessments will be available on the web and couples and families can assess their relationships on their own and access a variety of resources.

Although he believes couples are best served using his inventories in concert with a trained professional, he has faith that even with a semi-structured online version, there will be benefits.

Olson told the assembled audience that thinking and talking about their relationship is the most important thing a couple can do. They can identify their strengths and areas where they need to grow as well as improve their communication and conflict-resolution skills. He noted that balanced families have better health outcomes over the long term and that children have the strongest opportunity to grow up well-adjusted.

Olson said he’s a believer in prevention because without regular maintenance and care ­– marriages and relationships – just like the I-35 Bridge – can experience catastrophic failure.

 

 

Students and professors travel widely for presentations and awards

A professor and student.
Associate Professor Susan Walker and Ph.D. student Seonghee Hong. Photo by Julie Michener.

Susan Walker, associate professor, and Seonghee Hong, a Ph.D. student in Family Social Science, will receive the Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal Best Paper Award in Family and Consumer Sciences Education for 2017.

The award will be presented at the 109th Annual Conference of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) in Atlanta in June. D

The paper, “Workplace Predictors of Parenting Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes,” was published in the June 2017 issue of FCSRJ.

The AAFCS Best Paper award recognizes work for the importance and originality of the topic; strength of the methodology and results; and the potential for a lasting contribution to family and consumer science. AAFCS is the only national not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides leadership and support to family and consumer science professionals in education, research, business, and not-for-profit organizations.

The pair are among a number of Family Social Science professors and graduate students traveling this spring. Graduate students receiving travel grants include:

Sarah Burcher

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Prevention Research and the American Council on Consumer Interests in May.

Dan Cooper

Ruth E. Hall Fund for the IFTA World Family Therapy Congress in March.

Noah Gagner

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Annual Conference International Family Therapy Association in March.

Renada Goldberg

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the 2018 Work Family Research Network Conference in June.

And

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the International Conference on Working with Involuntary Clients in May.

Heather Hessel

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence in April.

Hailey Holmgren

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Conference in April.

Angela Holth Keyzers

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Conference in April.

Sun-Kyung
Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Conference in April.

And

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the American Educational Research Association in April.

Quin Morrow

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting in April.

Jingchen Zhang

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Research on Adolescence in April and the Society for Prevention Research in May.

Na Zhang

Ruth E. Hall Fund for Graduate Student Professional Development to assist with costs associated with attending the Society for Prevention Research in May.

New book highlights Medical Family Therapy practices and applications

Book cover FSoS Professor Tai Mendenhall is among a team of editors of the new book, Clinical Methods in Medical Family Therapy that outlines research-informed practices and applications of Medical Family Therapy (MedFT) across a range environments and clinical populations. This comprehensive resource is for any behavioral health student, trainee, or professional seeking to understand and gain skills requisite for entering the healthcare workforce.

University of Minnesota faculty, alumni, students and community partners were among the collaborators for the book, including Professor Bill Doherty (Family Social Science) and Dr. Macaran Baird (Family Medicine & Community Health).

Family Social Science Alumni included:

  • Jerica Berge
  • Diego Garcia-Huidobro
  • Stephanie Trudeau
  • Lisa Trump
  • Katharine (“Kit”) Didericksen
  • Cigdem Yumbul
  • Max Zubatsky

University of Minnesota Community Partners included:

  • Jonathan Bundt
  • Rosanne Kassekert
  • Elizabeth (“Nan”) LittleWalker

Mendelhall also engaged two FSoS Undergrads in copy-editing and manuscript-prep: Therese Nichols (now an alumni) and Catherine Futoransky.

The book was written to be applicable for a wide variety of healthcare disciplines, including family therapy, counseling nursing, medicine, psychology and social work.

FSoS professor to be featured on BBC

Left to right: Professor/Facilitator Bill Doherty, BBC Senior Producer Anisa Subedar, Session Participant Deborah Mosby and Videographer Natalia Zuo. Photo by Julie Michener.

FSoS Professor Bill Doherty welcomed a BBC documentary crew into his home last Thursday. His work helping communities bridge the political divide attracted the attention of Anisa Subedar, a senior producer for BBC Trending. She asked Bill if he could do a one on one version of the community group sessions he facilitates for the national non-profit, Better Angels. Doherty connected with Minnesotans Deborah Mosby and Tom Chamberlain who agreed to work with him on camera.  Subedar and Natalia Zuo, a video journalist, also taped a lecture Doherty delivered the previous evening. While in Minnesota they also enjoyed Matt’s Juicy Lucys and visited Paisley Park.

FSoS PhD student to present a regional conference

a graduate student.
Family Social Science Ph.D. student Gretchen Buchanan.

PhD student Gretchen Buchanan will be presenting at the 2018 Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Conference, April 27, at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest in Minnetonka.

She will present, “Challenging Patients, Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Self-Care: A Workshop for Everyone in Integrated Behavioral Healthcare.”

The presentation is based on a series of staff trainings Buchanan conducted when she was a behavioral health clinician at a Twin Cities integrated health care clinic.

The clinic was unique in that it was a referral-based clinic for specifically patients with severe, chronic mental health and medical issues, a population that could be challenging.  Buchanan assisted staff with strategies and techniques to manage stressful situations and difficult conversations as well as strategies for self-care and self-management.

FSoS PhD student and professor to be honored at national conference

A professor and student.
Associate Professor Susan Walker and Ph.D. student Seonghee Hong. Photo by Julie Michener.

Susan Walker, associate professor, and Seonghee Hong, a Ph.D. student in Family Social Science, will receive the Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal Best Paper Award in Family and Consumer Sciences Education for 2017.

The award will be presented at the 109th Annual Conference of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) in Atlanta in June. Dr. Sharon DeVaney, editor of FCSRJ, will present the award.

The paper, “Workplace Predictors of Parenting Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes,” was published in the June 2017 issue of FCSRJ.

The AAFCS Best Paper award recognizes work for the importance and originality of the topic; strength of the methodology and results; and the potential for a lasting contribution to family and consumer science.

In their article, Walker and Hong investigated the technology adoption of non-formal parenting educators in Minnesota. They found that attitudes toward technology use was directly related to the perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness of the technology. They recommended that organizations that employ parenting educators foster a climate that encourages technology use and provide ongoing and effective training.

The Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal publishes original research in all areas of family and consumer sciences. AAFCS, the sponsoring organization of the journal, is the only national not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides leadership and support to family and consumer science professionals in education, research, business, and not-for-profit organizations.

Family Social Science professor named editor of national journal

Family Social Science Professor Steven Harris. Photo by Julie Michener.

Family Social Science Professor Steven M. Harris assumed a new role as editor of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy for a four year term.

Published by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy is dedicated to both reflect and foster the best scholarship in the MFP field  that makes a difference, moves our field forward, crosses borders, is sensitive to diversity and social justice, and is relevant to both researchers and clinicians.

Dr. Harris received his master’s and doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University. Prior to Minnesota, he was an MFT faculty member at Texas Tech University for 13 years. He has been practicing as an MFT for over 27 years. His history with JMFT includes serving as the reviews editor from 2000-2005, and he has been on the Editorial Board since 2000. Dr. Harris is the author of over 65 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, has written four books, and has contributed a variety of other publications to the field throughout his career. He also serves as the associate director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project. He and his co-author, Dr. William J. Doherty, also a professor in the FSoS Department, released the first textbook on discernment counseling last year.

JMFT, published quarterly, is the flagship scholarly journal of AAMFT and the field of family therapy. The goal of the journal is to ensure the continued development of the science, theory, and practice of marriage and family therapy. JMFT disseminates relevant, current scholarship and research that moves the field forward.

FSoS Professor, Student collaborate on Journal article

A professor and graduate student.
Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall and Ph.D. student Emily Jordan Jensen. Photo by Julie Michener.

An article co-written by Family Social Science Ph.D. student Emily Jordan Jensen and Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall has been accepted and published in Contemporary Family Therapy.

“Call to Action: Family Therapy and Rural Mental Health,” is a review of every article published over the past 20 years in family journals related to mental health in rural communities. The team found 18 articles.

Jensen and Mendenhall discovered that the research points to three primary barriers that prevent rural communities from accessing high quality mental health care: availability, accessibility and acceptability. In their article, they issue a “call to action” to family clinicians and researchers and provide recommendations for further contributions.

“Family social science is uniquely positioned to really make a difference in this area,” says Jensen. “I hope this article helps to build a bigger research agenda around the needs of rural communities.”

Their article is available online at SpringerLink.

Introduction to Prevention Science to be offered online

An introduction to prevention science will be offered online summer session 2018.

The Department of Family Social Science will offer an introduction to Prevention Science course online during the 2018 summer session, May 21-August 17.

The course, “Prevention Science: Principles and Practices,” (FSoS 5701, class number 88756) is open to graduate-level students. Undergraduate and nontraditional students may take the course with the instructor’s permission. Registration opens March 1 and ends May 25, the Friday following the first day of class.

This course is an excellent introduction to prevention science concepts and methods and will cover foundations for strategic interventions to prevent behavioral problems and promote healthy development, as well as trends and best practices in the discipline.

Prevention Science is a multi-disciplinary comprehensive approach to identify how best to promote the well-being of diverse families and communities by bridging research and practice. Learn more about Prevention Science.

Current prevention science research being conducted at the U of M includes preventing antisocial behavior and drug abuse, developing evidence-based parenting programs and education, supporting healthy development in at-risk populations, and exploring the value of mentor-based interventions.

For more information

Contact Instructor Kristen Johnson or visit OneStop.

Family Social Science Cornerstone Symposium highlights professor’s contributions to improve marital relationships

Professor Emeritus David Olson will deliver the 2018 Cornerstone Symposium lecture Thursday, April 5, at 4 p.m. in the McNamara Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP online at: z.umn.edu/cornerstone2018.

Doctor David Olson
Professor Emeritus David Olson will deliver the FSoS Cornerstone Symposium lecture April 5.

One of the pioneers in couple and marriage therapy, Olson will discuss how he bridged research, theory, and practice to create the pioneering Circumplex Model, a systemic model based on three major relationship dimensions: cohesion, flexibility, and communication. Used in a variety of settings with couples and families, the assessment provides diagnostic information that is useful for treatment planning, clinical intervention, and assessing the clinical outcome. The model has been used as the foundation for more than 1,000 research studies worldwide.

He joined the University’s Department of Family Social Science faculty in 1973, and served as Director of Graduate Programs from 1973-1987.  He also served as acting head of the Department in 1989. He conducted research studies of health family systems, marital and family conflict, premarital preparation and marriage enrichment programs, mediation approaches to child custody, and family treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse. He has written or edited over 20 books and published more than 100 articles. He currently serves on the editorial boards of six family journals.

Founder and former CEO of Prepare/Enrich (Life Innovations), Olson created a simplified version of his assessment that has been used with over 4 million premarital and married couples around the globe to improve the health and resilience of their relationships.

He is a fellow of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the American Psychological Association. He has served as president of the National Council on Family Relations and the Upper Midwest Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. He was honored by both AAMFT and the American Family Therapy Association with Distinguished Contributions to Family Therapy Research Awards, as well as the University of Minnesota’s Legacy and Research Excellence Awards.

Olson was honored with Professor Emeritus status in 2001. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master’s in psychology from Wichita State University, and his doctoral degree from Penn State.

More about Family Social Science

The Department of Family Social Science is in the College of Education + Human Development. Formed in 1970, the Department of Family Social Science features academic programs that are future-focused, comprehensive, and transdisciplinary. FSoS scholars not only discover new knowledge, they are committed to collaborating with families, communities, and agencies to identify challenges and create evidence-based solutions. Its multi-disciplinary focus in a research-intensive institution makes it distinctive and unique.

 

FSoS professor launches last doctoral advisee

Corey Yeager and Bill Doherty.
L to r: Ph.D. candidate Corey Yeager and FSoS Professor Bill Doherty. Photo by Julie Michener.

Family Social Science doctoral candidate Corey Yeager successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation in a mid-December session attended by a supportive crowd of faculty, friends and family. But the most unique facet of Yeager’s doctoral candidacy is the distinction of being Professor Bill Doherty’s last advisee.

Doherty, who joined the Department of Family Social Science in 1986, says he  will continue to serve on graduate student committees, but he feels he’s at an age where taking on new students for the doctoral degree process (normally around five-years) would not be a good idea for the student.

“I couldn’t be more delighted that Corey was my final student,” said Doherty. “He learned and grew tremendously, and is already making wonderful contributions to the practice and theory of family social science.”

Doherty says Yeager is a prime example of the Department of Family Social Science’s focus on developing community partnerships.  That’s a big change he’s noticed over his 30 years of advising doctoral candidates. They enter the program seeking to understand the bigger picture of issues affecting families across the lifespan, and finding their unique research path to make an impact.

He has also observed that some candidates often must cope with the anxiety of their family and community about their doctoral ambitions.  “Especially in communities of color, there’s apprehension that if someone gets their doctoral degree, they’ll abandon their community,” said Doherty. “That’s not true with Corey—he’s thoroughly engaged.”

Addressing community challenges

Yeager has worked since 2013 in Minneapolis Public Schools’ Office of Black Male Student Achievement (OBMSA) that addresses the achievement gap in the district’s black male students – the largest demographic group in the district.

He steps into a new role as Educational Equity Director that will focus on professional development for administrators, teachers, and support staff to address the gap. According to OBMSA, black male students lag behind their white male counterparts in every achievement indicator, and have a 39 percent high school graduation rate, compared to white male students’ 65 percent.

“My graduate work and the ability to access, understand, and use meaningful research to support OMBSA’s work has been very helpful,” said Yeager.

As part of his doctoral work, Yeager and Doherty collaborated with black male students at South High School to create the “Relationship Project.” Using the framework Doherty has developed with his Families and Democracy Project, the two researchers listened and learned from the young men, who chose to work on improving their relationships with teachers and their female peers as a way to address their achievement gap.

The two helped the young men improve their communication skills to interview teachers and learn more about them, while the students organized a peer panel of young women to understand the behaviors they display that create discomfort, and what they could do better. Yeager says the work has been powerful for all involved and achieved positive results for the students.

Communities as co-producers

Doherty says this democratic approach builds credibility and trust with individuals, families and partnering organizations.  He has spent his career honing this framework that recognizes a community as a base of both knowledge and action.

The temptation of academia he says, is to go into a partnership with a top down mindset as the “expert deliverer of new knowledge.”

“But when you access both the academic knowledge and the knowledge that resides in those communities – that’s dynamite,” he says. Being able to implement that kind of approach requires developing communication and facilitation skills that foster open community engagement.

“Never start with a powerpoint,” says Doherty. Doherty advises dialogue – ask those in the room to share what they know, what they’ve observed, and how they feel about the issue at hand.

“I call it ‘being on tap’ rather than ‘being on top,’” he says. “The dialogue builds trust and appreciation for listening and we – the academics – become resources.”

Yeager expressed his own appreciation for Doherty’s mentorship in attaining his doctoral degree.

“Dr. Doherty was a guide, trainer, motivator, therapist and confidant for me through this doctoral journey,” he said. “I am ever indebted to him and will work diligently to repay him for all he has become to me…”

Learn more

You can learn more about Professor Doherty’s work at the Citizen Professional Center site.

Project to help first responders wins MN-REACH grant

Professor Tai Mendenhall.
Tai Mendenhall, professor of Family Social Science.

Family Social Science Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall’s project to help first responders, called “Preventing Compassion Fatigue in Disaster-Responders: Advancing and Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Mobile Self Care App,” has been selected for MN-Reach funding.

The University of Minnesota launched MN-REACH in 2015 to help researchers with new health-related discoveries navigate the complex path(s) from laboratory to market. MN-REACH is also one of three sites in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs.

Mendenhall is principal investigator (PI) on a team that created a self-care app for trauma-responders, the UMN Responder Self-Care App. In 2012, providers and researchers from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Academic Health Center (Office of Emergency Preparedness), and Department of Family Social Science collaborated with colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to develop the innovative self-care app for emergency responders in-the-field.  They pilot-tested an early version of the app with volunteer members of the UMN’s Medical Reserve Corps (Behavioral-, Biomedical-, Veterinary-, and other teams) and MDH.

“These volunteers assisted us with understanding their use-cases, so that we can refine and revise this early version across both content and organization,” said Mendenhall, who earned his Ph.D. in Family Social Science at the U of M in 2003. “We are now working toward widespread use and rigorous (randomized) empirical testing.  This is very timely and important work!”

Mendenhall’s co-investigators include Andrew Morrow, in the U of M’s Office for Technology Commercialization, and two professionals from the MDH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Nancy Carlson, a doctoral student who also works as a behavioral health and community resilience program coordinator, and Tom Garcia, a medical countermeasures planner.

The interactive smartphone app (available for iOS and Android) engages responders in a variety of ways before, during, and after deployments. The personally-customizable tool serves to promote and aid responders’ attention to their own physical, emotional, and social well-being.

High stress – high risk 

Disaster-responders are already a high-risk group for compassion fatigue and – paired with the high-risk nature of fieldwork, itself – they are also at high-risk to become impaired. This puts both providers and the families they serve at risk. A 2016 Survey conducted by the National EMS Management Association (NEMA) described in detail the current needs of the responder community, including a call to action: “There is a significant mental health and wellness problem among the EMS workforce in the United States. Insufficient data exists to fully describe the extent and impact of this problem across the 800,000+ professionals that serve around the clock each day.”

Currently organizations address compassion fatigue during after-action processing and/or debriefing sequences, which do not sufficiently address the personal health and well-being of responders. This gap is partly connected to the cultures of medical education, law-enforcement, and emergency services institutions (e.g., rigid hierarchies between classes and specializations, long working hours, and an ethos that does not support or encourage asking for help or appearing vulnerable).

The risks associated with compassion fatigue have personal consequences for emergency responders, including physical and mental illnesses, relationship stress, and professional consequences for the individuals and families that disaster response personnel serve (ranging from missing important cues, to ineffective teamwork and/or straightforward medical errors).

“The opportunity to use the UMN Responder Self-Care App in real-time – privately or in coordination with assigned team-members – will help responders with self-care during times when doing so is most needed, while also capturing much needed data to support long-term research so crucial in this field,” said Mendenhall.

Early development of the UMN Responder Self-Care App was supported by University of Minnesota: Simulations, Exercises, and Effective Education (U-SEE) funding to investigate the effectiveness of public health preparedness training methods with the goal of developing training models that build system capacity.

Family Social Science makes presence felt at national conference

FSoS Associate Professor Jenifer McGuire opens a session on trans gender youth at NCFR 2017.

 

The hashtag #UMNProud was a presence  at the National Council on Family Relations’ annual conference in Orlando in November.

Current students (26), faculty and research associates (13) and alumni (25, including a professor emerita) from the Department of Family Social Science and the University of Minnesota made presentations, moderated panels, and led special sections dialogues, as well as discussed their research in poster sessions across the four days of the national meeting.

Their topics spanned the growing range of family social science research – from transgender youth and young adults in context, to familial and neighborhood influences on obesity, to military service and its impact on families.  The Department of Family Social Science is among the national leaders advancing theory and practice to improve the well-being of diverse families.

In addition, grad student Samantha LeBouef was publicly recognized for her national Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for a paper she presented at the conference.

The University of Minnesota was also among 18 institutions promoting their family social science departments to potential grad students during University Receptions Thursday evening.

Here’s a selection of graduate student presentations, posters and papers:

Molly White Bailey, Anti-racists Identity Development – poster;

Natasha Bell, Children and Finances in Divorce Decision-making – poster;

Gretchen Buchanan, Conceptualization of What Constitutes a Strong Family – poster;

Sarah Burcher, Work or Family? A hermeneutic phenomenology qualitative meaning and value of employment from the perspective of low-income women – presentation;

Daniel Cooper, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families, presentation; and Examining biracial identity development: Key concepts and assumptions – poster;

Lekie Dwanyen, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families – presentation;

Renada Goldberg, Using CPBR in Policy Analysis: Assessing Paid Sick Leave and African Americans – poster;

Heather Hessel, Different Paths: Comparing College-Going and Non-college Youth – poster;

Emily Jordan, Barriers to Rural Mental Health Care: Clinicians’ Perspectives – presentation;

Angela Keyzers, Sensation-seeking and Emerging Adult Online Risk Behavior – presentation;

Samantha LeBouef, Near, Far, Wherever you are: Siblings and Social Media Communication – paper;

Sun-Kyung Lee, Well-Being of Emerging Adults: How Family and Friends Matter – poster;

Na Zhang, Relationships between mindfulness facets and observed anger expression: An actor partner interdependence analysis with post-deployed military families – poster;

Jingchen Zhang, Effects of a military parenting program: Inhibitory control as a moderator – poster.

About the conference

The NCFR’s annual conference attracts more than 1,000 scholars and practitioners from across the globe with the goal to highlight research, feature evidence-based best practices and critically examine policies that impact families and communities.

 

 

Family Social Science: It’s all about connections

Family Social Science Professor/ITR Director Abi Gewirtz has collaborated with current and former grad students on a new article for “Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of applied Family Studies,” published by the National Council on Family Relations.

Gewirtz, current FSOS grad student, Na Zhang, and Osnat Zamir, Ph.D., an associate professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have written “Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment.” It is currently available pre-publication at NCFR’s online library.

Zhang, a fourth-year doctoral student in Family Social Science, is a native of China and began examining the effects of mindfulness as a master’s degree student at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she stood out to Gewirtz, who was there teaching a graduate course in prevention science.

Dr. Gewirtz supervised Zamir’s post-doctoral appointment (2011-2016) in FSoS and ITR where she joined Gewirtz’s ADAPT research project. Zamir had been recommend by Dr. Yoav Lavee, a FSoS alum and CEHD Distinguished International Alumnus Awardee. He is currently is on faculty at the University of Haifa, Israel, where Zamir received her Ph.D. degree. Gewirtz served on the CEHD award committee that honored Dr. Lavee.

Family Social Science Focus on: Student Achievement

Samantha LeBouef.
Family Social Science graduate student Samantha LeBouef.

Grad student Samantha LeBouef has won a national award from the National Council on Family Relations. She won a Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for her paper, “Near, Far, Wherever You Are: Siblings and Social Media Communication” that she’ll be presenting at the NCFR annual conference later this month. The award recognizes students’ quality proposals and comes with a cash travel award to the annual conference. LeBouef will also present at the annual conference for the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood in Washington, D.C.

LeBouef, is co-president of the graduate student organization, SHARK,  and her advisor is Jodi Dworkin, professor and associate department head of Family Social Science.

Family Social Science focus on: faculty publishing

Family Social Science Professor Catherine Solheim.

Family Social Science faculty members Catherine Solheim and Elizabeth Wieling have collaborated with FSOS Ph.D. candidate Jaime Ballard on the book, “Immigrant and Refugee Families: Global Perspectives on Displacement and Resettlement Experiences,” that gives readers an interdisciplinary perspective on the challenges and resilience of immigrant and refugee families in the U.S.  They address topics such as immigration policy, traumatic stress, domestic violence, and more. It is free and available to download at the U of M Library.

In addition, Solheim is among the contributors to “Teaching Interculturally: A Framework for Integrating Disciplinary Knowledge and Intercultural Development.” Published by Stylus Publishing, the book provides educators a theoretical foundation, practical tools, and process for designing and implementing an intercultural pedagogy. The book is available online.