Every year, the Hogg Foundation gives the Frances Fowler Wallace Memorial Award for Mental Health Dissertation Research to eligible doctoral candidates at institutions of higher education in Texas. Awardees receive a scholarship to help cover research-related expenses.
One of our 2020 recipients is Danielle Lauricella-Ketring, a doctoral candidate at Texas Tech University. We talked with Danielle about her latest research.
Your project explores the effectiveness of mindfulness for women survivors of intimate partner violence. What led you to take a professional interest in this topic, and what questions are you trying to answer with this research?
I am a licensed marriage and family therapist associate in the state of Texas. I have been practicing in my profession for about four years now. Throughout my time as a clinician, I have worked with many people that have experienced abuse, including women that have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). I found when working with these women that the aftermath of IPV is difficult to navigate and heal from.
I began practicing mindfulness as a master’s student and have been able to see some powerful effects in my life. I began to incorporate it into my practice with my clients and noticed that they felt there were benefits too. I began to wonder if mindfulness could help in the healing process for women survivors of IPV. Thus, this project was born.
Through this project, I hope to assess and learn if mindfulness can help mitigate some of the impact to mental and emotional health that women experience after surviving IPV.
How do you think your research methods and approach will help you answer the questions you’re posing?
I am implementing a quasi-experimental, small-N design using a mindfulness protocol that I created for the purposes of this project. Through these methods, I am able to establish a baseline in various factors, such as depression or PTSD, for each participant, have them participate in a 6-week mindfulness protocol where we meet via Zoom for an hour each week, learning and practicing mindfulness from a trauma-informed stance, and assess how their depression, PTSD, etc. changes over the course of the intervention. This will help begin build evidence that mindfulness may be something that clinicians work to implement in their treatment of IPV.
What, from your perspective, is the biggest area of need — or the greatest opportunity — related to this topic? In other words, how could we really move the needle on this front?
I believe the biggest need is improved treatment. IPV is very prevalent in today’s world and the repercussions are undesirable, at best. The experience of IPV often leave the survivor’s life in disarray and yet they are expected to pick it back up and move forward, oftentimes under great financial, emotional, and mental strain. This project may help to establish a new best practice for survivors of IPV.
Can you suggest a few readings/resources for those who are interested in learning more about this topic?
Sure! For mindfulness, I would recommend The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald D. Siegel, and Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn. For IPV, I would recommend A Typology of Domestic Violence by Michael P. Johnson and looking into the work of Dr. A. Holtzworth-Monroe. For general trauma I would recommend Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk.
You can also access the study website for more resources and to follow our findings!