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The Suicide Prevention and Risk Behaviors Lab, located at Western Kentucky University Department of Psychological Sciences
We interviewed asked the Suicide Prevention and Risk Behaviors Lab’s graduate student ABCT members:
- What is your area of research interest?
- How has ABCT been helpful to you?
- If a student were thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?
Jeffrey Powers, M.S. (Jeffrey will begin his first year of the Louisiana State University Clinical Psychology PhD Program in Fall 2019)
- The protective and risk factors of suicidal ideation and behavior with an emphasis on assessment, intervention, and prevention of suicidal behavior, particularly in military personnel and veterans.
- ABCT has been helpful in fostering contacts and networks in the field of professional clinical psychology prior to applying to Ph.D. programs. It allows me to interact with researchers and clinicians who are passionate about and dedicated to psychological sciences and who aim to improve the lives of individuals through evidence-based treatment.
- A wonderful thing about ABCT is the number and diversity of activities students can become involved in. Not only at the annual conferences, but through their website and list serve, students can become involved in many roles or positions in almost any interest they have regarding psychology.
Other graduate students in the Suicide Prevention and Risk Behaviors Lab:
- Ava Fergerson, B.S.
- Jordan Gregory, B.S.
Undergraduate student members of the Suicide Prevention and Risk Behaviors Lab:
- Brooke Beck
- Samuel Fisk
- Eliza Laves
- Heather McKinney
- Katee McKinney
- Kristen Miller
- Kendra Rigney
- Anna Siewers
- Meredith Whitfield
Amy M. Brausch, Ph.D.
Amy M. Brausch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Western Kentucky University. She teaches in the undergraduate and M.S. program in Psychological Science, which both have concentrations in clinical science. She received a faculty excellence award from Eastern Illinois University, the University Award for Research from Western Kentucky University, and the 2018 Spotlight on a Mentor award from ABCT. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on suicide and nonsuicidal self-injury, and regularly presents at national and international conferences.
The Suicide Prevention and Risk Behaviors Lab is broadly focused on youth suicide prevention. More specifically, we study risk and protective factors for suicide in the adolescent and emerging adult age groups, including the overlap of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicide. Our current work includes two NIMH-funded longitudinal studies that examine how certain characteristics of NSSI may lead to future suicidal thoughts and behaviors. These studies are investigating the role of emotion regulation deficits in adolescents and how those deficits impact the relationship between NSSI and suicide, and how characteristics of NSSI such as self-identification, habituation, and attentional bias may impact future suicidal thoughts and behaviors in emerging adults. Our lab also studies related risk factors for self-harm behavior in these age groups, including eating disorder behaviors, sleep quality, and substance use, as well as evaluating the proposed criteria for NSSI Disorder.
How do you stay current with developments in the field, both research and practice?
I regularly read new research in my field and use ResearchGate to follow new developments and studies in the area of suicide risk, prevention, and treatment. I can often be found reading articles or participating in webinars to keep up to date on new research and practice recommendations.
What conferences do you regularly attend and why?
My most consistent conference attendance is at the American Association of Suicidology, since it is my professional home. I also semi-regularly attend the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury, since it is such a specific field of study. I have twice attended the European Symposium on Suicide and Suicide-Related Behaviors to gain exposure to suicide research happening worldwide. I also attend ABCT regularly to ensure I have exposure to the broader field of clinical psychology.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
I have been a member for about 15 years, first as a graduate student and then as a professional.
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
ABCT covers such a broad range of psychopathology and professional topics. I have been able to attend presentations and poster sessions that were relevant to my current needs at the time. Sometimes these sessions were about applying to internship, or about how to approach treating a certain type of client, or about funding resources in your area, or about issues women face in academia. It is also an excellent place for re-connecting with friends and colleagues in the field, and networking opportunities.
How do you see the future of ABCT for both you and your students?
ABCT has been a great conference for my students. When I bring undergraduates, they are often overwhelmed by the size, but are also energized and excited about pursuing clinical psychology. When I bring master’s students, they are more focused on attending sessions and meeting potential future doctoral mentors. They meet other students and begin forming their professional networks. I see ABCT as the outlet where I can pursue collaborations with researchers who do not attend the other conferences that I do, and try to forge more interdisciplinary work in suicide prevention.
Are your students members of ABCT? If so, what has been most useful for them?
Many of my students are members of ABCT (even at the undergraduate and master’s level) and they are highly encouraged to attend, especially if they are interested in applying to doctoral programs. It is incredibly useful for them to attend presentations on evidence-based treatments and cutting-edge research on the topics that interest them most. Some of my students have become involved with SIGs and have already met many students and faculty from other programs.
For prospective students:
The Department of Psychological Sciences has an M.S. program in psychological science, and students can choose a clinical science focus. The emphasis is on gaining a strong foundation in research methods and statistics, and some coursework in clinical psychology, to prepare students for a research position or for future doctoral study. My lab has been very successful at gaining admission to Clinical Psychology Ph.D. programs after finishing the M.S. degree (92% of students who applied were accepted). Other faculty members study substance use, PTSD, cognitive aging, vision and haptics, infant and preschool emotion and social development, and learning and memory in older adults. More information can be found on our website