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Professor Conducting Disaster Mental Health Research

Bita Ghafoori, associate professor of counseling, has received a $20,000 grant to support disaster mental health research from the National Institutes of Mental Health through a research education grant to Dartmouth College. The grant is intended to increase the quality and utility of disaster mental health research by informing, advising and mentoring disaster researchers.

The Department of Educational Psychology, Administration and Counseling faculty member is working with a senior-level researcher at Columbia University who is serving as a mentor over the two-year period. The award provides opportunities for statistical training, participation in professional conferences and collaboration on research projects.

Ghafoori believes research support like this is especially important to the faculty of a teaching-oriented institution like CSULB. “Research lays the foundation for all our teaching,” she pointed out. “New knowledge has changed the way I teach.

“Plus, what I learn from the extensive training I receive, I will incorporate in my courses on assessment, treatment planning and psychotherapy techniques,” she added. “CSULB students are thirsty for knowledge, and participation in projects like this helps students to know how to provide evidence-based therapeutic services after a disaster.”

Ghafoori plans on developing a research program that may be implemented in the aftermath of a disaster and to network with other mental health researchers.

Last fall, students were involved in her research program by participating in psychological first aid training with an acknowledged expert. “What I hope for these students is for them to become potential responders after a disaster,” Ghafoori explained. “A lot of master’s-level clinicians are first responders. I think we have the opportunity here to develop a local network of people who are adequately trained in disaster mental health.”