Office: Psychology Building, Room 239
Dr. Courtney Ahrens
Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago, 2002
Specialization: Community Psychology
Dissertation: “Silent and Silenced: The Disclosure and Non-Disclosure of Sexual Assault”
MA University of Illinois at Chicago, 1998
Specialization: Community Psychology
Thesis: “Friends Helping Friends: The Effects of Assisting Rape Victims”
BA Smith College (Northampton, MA), 1992
My research is focused on violence against women and has both theoretical and practical aspects. On a theoretical level, I am interested in the impact of social reactions on survivors’ ability to speak about their experiences and seek help from others. In particular, I am interested in understanding the circumstances under which survivors receive negative reactions, how survivors decide whether to speak or remain silent, and the impact of disclosure and social reactions on survivors’ health and well-being.
On a practical level, I work extensively with rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and prevention programs to prevent violence and support survivors. These efforts have included implementation and/or evaluation of a variety of different programs, including campus-based bystander intervention programs, court-based advocacy programs, community education programs, support programs for survivors, and batterer intervention programs.
Sample Publications (For a Complete Curriculum Vitae, click here)
Ahrens, C., Stansell, J., & Jennings, A. (in press). To tell or not to tell: The impact of disclosure on sexual assault survivors’
recovery. Violence and Victims.
Ahrens, C., Rios-Mandel., C., Isas, L., & Lopez, M. (in press). Talking about interpersonal violence: Cultural influences on
Latinas’ identification and disclosure of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Psychological Trauma: Theory,
Research, Practice, and Policy.
Ahrens, C., Cabral, G., & Abeling, S. (2009). Healing or hurtful: Sexual assault survivors’ interpretations of social reactions
from support providers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33 (1), 81-94.
Ahrens, C., Abeling, S., Ahmad, S., & Hinman, J. (2009). Spirituality and well-being: The relationship between religious
coping and recovery from sexual assault. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (first published on September 3, 2009 as
Ahrens, C., Dean, K., & Rozee, P. (2008). Understanding and preventing rape. In F. Denmark & M. Paludi (Eds.),
Psychology of Women: A Handbook of Issues and Theories (pp. 509-554). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
Ahrens, C. & Rozee, P. (2007). Using an ecological perspective to understand and address sexual assault on campus.
CSU Monograph Series on Enduring Social Issues.
Ahrens, C., Campbell, R., Ternier, K., Wasco, S., & Sefl, T. (2007). Deciding who to tell: Expectations and outcomes of rape
survivors’ first disclosures. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 38-49.
Ahrens, C. (2006). Being silenced: The impact of negative social reactions on the disclosure of rape. American Journal of
Community Psychology, 38, 263-274.
Ahrens, C. & Campbell, R. (2000). Assisting rape victims as they recover from rape: The impact on friends. Journal of
Interpersonal Violence, 15, 959-986.
Ahrens, C., Campbell, R., Wasco, S., Aponte, G., Grubstein, L., & Davidson, W. (2000). Sexual assault nurse examiner
programs: An alternative approach to medical service delivery for rape victims. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15,
AWARDS AND HONORS:
Psychology 278: Domestic Violence
This course takes an in-depth look at the problem of domestic violence. Students will learn about definitions, prevalence rates, and the etiology of domestic violence. The course will also cover legal, medical, and therapeutic responses to domestic violence as well as a discussion of prevention programs and public policy interventions to address this national epidemic.
Psychology 354: Psychology of Women
This course provides a basic overview of the psychology of women. The class will examine psychological and feminist research and theories that pertain to women’s experiences, paying particular attention to the socio-cultural, historical, international, and multi-cultural contexts that affect women’s lives. The course covers concepts central to the psychology of women, including: a) oppression and privilege; b) biological sex differences; c) gender socialization; d) media images; e) body image; f) communication styles; g) sexuality; and h) leadership. These concepts will be examined in relation to a variety of aspects of women’s lives, including: a) childhood; b) adolescence; c) friendships; d) intimate relationships; e) mothering; f) work; g) physical and mental health; and h) violence against women.
Psychology 375: Community Psychology
This course provides a basic overview of the field of community psychology. The class will cover the basic theories and concepts that define the field while incorporating real-life examples of community action and research. Students will become acquainted with concepts central to community psychology, including: a) respect for diversity; b) social oppression; c) victim blaming; d) ecological theory; e) empowerment theory; f) stress, coping, & social support; g) resilience; h) citizen participation and social action; and j) prevention. Students will also learn about the principles of research that guide community psychologists, including: a) traditional research methods; b) organizational consulting; c) program evaluation; and d) participatory action research. Finally, students will learn how these concepts are applied to a wide range of contemporary social issues including: a) homelessness; b) domestic violence; c) sexual violence; d) GLBTQ rights; e) environmental issues; f) immigration rights; g) youth violence; h) poverty; and i) social justice. Emphasis will be placed on working with disenfranchised groups and organizations.
Psychology 405: Fieldwork in Psychology
This course provides Psychology majors the opportunity to gain internship experience. Specifically, students will work under the supervision of, or in association with, a professional having an advanced degree in a psychological discipline and who is engaged in the practice of some aspect of psychology in the surrounding community. Placements include schools, hospitals, clinics, and community mental health agencies. Students must complete 117 hours of documented field experience over the course of the semester (approximately 10 hours per week).
Psychology 423/523: Qualitative Methods and Analysis
This class is an overview of Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis. The term “qualitative” refers to a range of methods that involve an emphasis on understanding context, an emphasis on understanding how and why people in a specific setting act as they do, and the use of words rather than numbers. Both data collection and data analysis techniques will be covered. Students will become acquainted with the epistemological stances that underlie qualitative methods and how a qualitative approach differs from the quantitative approaches with which they are more familiar. Students will also learn about specific data collection techniques such as focus groups and qualitative interviews. Students will learn about these techniques first hand as they implement these techniques in the field.
Advancement of Women Award (2007). President’s Commission on the Status of Women. California State University at
Michelle Alexander Early Career Award for Scholarship and Service (2006). Society for the Psychological Study of Social
Spirit of Service Award (2006). Center for Community Engagement. California State University at Long Beach.
Best Dissertation in Community Psychology (2004). Society for Community Research and Action (Division 27 of the
American Psychological Association)
McKeachie Early Career Teaching Excellence Award (2001). Society for the Teaching of Psychology (Division 2 of the
American Psychological Association)
2010 Program Evaluator. Better Learning After School Today. Long Beach, CA
2007- present Program Evaluator. Geoscience Diversity Enhancement Program. California State University at Long
2007-present Program Evaluator. Minority Access to Research Careers Program. California State University at Long
2006- present Program Evaluator. Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program. California State University at Long Beach.
2006– 2008 Program Evaluator. Project Safe. California State University at Long Beach.
2006 Program Evaluator. Visions Learning Center. Norwalk, CA.
2004- 2009 Program Coordinator. Domestic Violence Court Resource Referral Program. Long Beach, CA.
2004-2006 Advisory Board. California Collaborative for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. Long Beach, CA.
2002- present Advisory Board. Center for Behavioral Research and Services. Long Beach, CA.
1998-2002 Advocate. Rape Victim Advocates. Chicago, IL.
1993-1996 Advocate. W.O.M.A.N. Inc. San Francisco, CA.
1991-1992 Advocate. Everywoman’s Center. Northampton, MA