Areas of Expertise

Research with Transgender Individuals 

I conduct community based research with transgender and gender diverse individuals, utilizing qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods approaches. Although my work has broadly focused on the LGBTQ community, my primary focus is on the lived experiences of transgender and gender diverse individuals. My research seeks to document minority stressors that uniquely impact this community, provide a nuanced understanding of the mechanisms and processes that underlie the production of health disparities that exist for these communities, and to identify strategies for coping and being resilient in the face of these challenges. I have published over 40 peer reviewed articles in these areas and have presented at numerous regional, national, and international conferences (over 50). My work has received grant funding from NIH and other outlets. For a full review of my research publications and research record, please see my CV. 

Evidence of my leadership in this area includes: 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Sexual and Gender Minority Clients 

I have expertise in providing and supervising therapy services with sexual and gender minority clients utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) interventions, mindfulness, and acceptance-based strategies. I have received specialized training in working with LGBTQ populations, including being in the inaugural cohort of trainees in the LGBTQ health internship at Northwestern University, providing services through the Center on Halsted in Chicago for 2 years, and continuing education, such as the Gender Education Network's training on medical gender affirmation evaluations, the Fenway Institute/Harvard Medical School's Advancing Excellence in Transgender Health training, and many others. I also have received specific training in the use of CBT. Regarding supervision, I have overseen the clinical work of approximately 30 trainees, some specializing in LGBTQ therapy and others more broadly focused on CBT training. I currently direct the Sexual and Gender Minority specialty services at Michigan State University's Psychological Clinic. I also provide therapy services through Wild Ferns Wellness in Lansing, MI.  

Training and Consultation 

I have provided various trainings and educational programs related to research, clinical practice, and inclusivity of LGBTQ individuals, particularly transgender and gender diverse people. I am available for leading such programs and trainings and can tailor these to a specific audience's needs. Here is a partial list of the trainings I have provided in the past: 

  • Experiences of Non-Binary Graduate Students: What’s Helpful and What’s Not; Webinar Moderator.

  • Suggestions from trans and gender diverse people for improving health care. Presentation to the Trans Health Collective at Michigan State University.

  • Competent practice with transgender individuals. Panel presentation for psychiatry residents at Michigan State University.

  • Transgender and non-binary identities. Presentation to the University of South Dakota SPECTRUM student group.

  • Transgender and gender diverse identities: Trans 101 & considerations for HIV related care. Presentation to the South Dakota Ryan White Prevention Planning Group.

  • Clinical and sociopolitical issues facing LGBTQ clients: Mental health professionals as allies and change agents. Full day training at the South Dakota Psychological Association Conference.

If you are interested in discussing a training for your program or organization, please reach out to discuss content and rates. 

My Background 

Growing up in rural North Carolina, I knew early that I wanted to find ways to support LGBTQ individuals and challenge the social oppression encountered by this community, but it wasn't until I was pursuing a master's degree in psychology that I learned that you can integrate a passion for advocacy with research and clinical work. 

Starting as an art major, I switched to psychology to pursue a career that could better match this passion. I first completed my undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (B.A. Psychology). While there, I was a lead research assistant in a lab focused on schizophrenia, which piqued my interest in severe mental illness. I continue to be highly interested in clinical work with this population. At the time, my LGBTQ work was focused more on volunteering with community organizations or advocacy groups. 

After finishing undergrad, I moved to Miami, FL and completed a master's degree in clinical psychology (M.S. Clinical Psychology). Here I completed a thesis about attitudes towards sexual minority parents and began shifting my professional focus to the LGBTQ community. Here I also received training in outpatient mental health services with a variety of populations facing an array of issues, such as depression, anxiety, and substance use. 

My pursuit of higher education then took me to the University of Memphis where I began working with Dr. Heidi Levitt in the Clinical Psychology Program. I was fully immersed into LGBTQ research while working with Dr. Levitt, as well as Dr. Sharon Horne who joint led an LGBTQ focused research team (see my CV for a full overview of my research background). My time at the University of Memphis was brief, as my advisor took a position at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) and I readily took the opportunity to transfer programs and continue working with her. Although only there a year, Memphis holds a special place in my life and I regularly think back to the strong LGBTQ community connections that I was able to form in that year. Even so, the shift to Boston was transformative for me in a personal and professional sense. UMass Boston has a strong commitment to social justice in their clinical psychology program, even describing the approach to training there as a scientist-activist-practitioner framework. The training that I received there fully informed the clinical psychologist that I became and I believe it is imperative that we learn about our own identities, how these influence our perceptions of others, our privileges, and views on the world, as well as those of others we work with and more broadly. My work is shaped by feminist theory, intersectionality, and liberation psychology, as well as utilizing ecological frameworks, minority stress theory, and social determinants of health to understand individual experiences. We are all embedded within social structures and power hierarchies and it is impossible to understand an individual's life experiences without considering these contextual factors and aspects of identity. I continue to fully integrate this view into my research, teaching, clinical practice, and supervision. 

Across my graduate studies, I also gained experience providing therapy to a variety of populations. These placements included: 

  • Graduate Clinician, University Counseling Center, UMass Boston

  • Graduate Clinician, Massachusetts Mental Health Center Partial Hospitalization Program in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy; Department of Mental Health, Harvard Medical School

  • Graduate Clinician, Massachusetts Mental Health Center Outpatient Services; Department of Mental Health, Harvard Medical School

  • Mental Health Counselor; Bournewood Hospital inpatient unit

I also gained experience teaching by being an instructor for 1) Abnormal Psychology, and 2) Cross-Cultural Psychology. 

My final year of training was a full time internship in the LGBTQ Health internship at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine/Northwestern Memorial Hospital/Center on Halsted (accredited by the American Psychological Association). This internship included a research rotation working with the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program (now a part of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health), rotations on the consultation liaison services at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, HIV specific training, facilitating a couples based HIV prevention/intervention program, intakes and therapy services with LGBTQ individuals at the Center on Halsted (individual, couples, and group therapy with youth and adults), and a rotation at the Trans Life Center

While on internship, I wrote a grant that was funded by the National Institutes of Health that allowed me to stay at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine for my postdoctoral fellowship and to conduct a study on the associations between substance use, mental health, and sexual risk behaviors for transgender and gender diverse individuals and how these may be driven by minority stress factors. Of note, this was the first daily diary study that had been conducted specifically with transgender individuals and is still the most extensive daily diary (56 days) study that has been done with this population. While on internship and this postdoctoral fellowship, I was supervised by Drs. Brian Mustanski and Michael Newcomb. I also continued to provide therapy services at the Center on Halsted during this postdoctoral fellowship period. 

After a year of this fellowship, I was offered a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Dakota (USD) where I worked for 3 years. At USD, I led my own research lab, supervised therapists in training (including a range of skill levels from beginning therapists to those who were in their final year of training), taught 1) Abnormal Psychology and 2) Psychology of Sexual and Gender Diversity, and engaged in various service activities. After these 3 years, I took a new position when hired for a diversity science position at Michigan State University (MSU) in the Department of Psychology's Clinical Science program. At MSU, I resumed my research lab (Trans-ilience: The Transgender Stress and Resilience Research Team), started the Sexual and Gender Minority Clinic housed in the Psychological Clinic at MSU, supervise clinicians in this clinic, teach 1) Abnormal Psychology and 2) Psychology of Sexual and Gender Diversity, and engage in a variety of service activities. In 2021, I left the Clinical Science program and joined the Ecological/Community Psychology program.