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Meet Omar Gudiño, PhD, ABPP
Dr. Gudiño received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2009. After completing an APA-approved predoctoral fellowship in child and adolescent psychology at the NYU Child Study Center/Bellevue Hospital, he served as a Senior Psychologist at Bellevue Hospital Center; a Clinical Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU; and a postdoctoral research fellow at the NYU school of Medicine. Dr. Gudiño was previously an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Child Psychology area at the University of Denver. He joined the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas in Fall 2018, where he is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Applied Behavioral Science and Psychology. At KU Dr. Gudiño directs the Services for At-Risk Youth & Families (SAYF) Lab, which conducts research on patterns of risk and resilience in ethnic minority youth exposed to trauma; the development and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for maltreated youth; and ethnic disparities in unmet need for mental health services.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
Since 2003, when I started graduate school!
How did you first become involved in research? What was this first research experience like?
I was taking a class on culture and human development in my second year of undergrad when I learned about a research assistant position with the professor for the course (Patricia Greenfield, PhD). Although I grew up in an immigrant Latino family, that was the first time I encountered culture as an academic subject. Even though it was more than 20 years ago I still remember class meetings where we discussed cultural influences on child rearing, discussed ways to operationalize constructs related to culture, and experiences coding adolescent journal entries as we asked questions about culture and adolescent relationships. Thinking about these early experiences now makes me realize just how foundational they were for my current work. I just had a conversation with a student about similar issues (i.e., the measurement of cultural influences using a person-centered approach). It’s great to see that continuity in my interests and to reflect on what I’ve learned over the last 20 years! My second experience as a research assistant was on a dissertation study being conducted by Jeff Wood, PhD. This was a treatment study testing the efficacy of family-based CBT for child anxiety. This was the very first time I saw CBT in action, had the chance to interact with children and families participating in treatment, and saw clinical science and clinical practice working together. These two experiences really showed me that there were interesting questions to be answered and that those answers could directly benefit families in need.
What have you found most rewarding about your research?
I am someone who likes to wear many hats, so I love that my research allows me think about and act on issues that I care about in so many rewarding ways. For example, as a community-engaged researcher I have the opportunity to meet with families, community leaders, providers, and policy makers to think about children’s mental health. I love that these conversations and experiences shape the way I understand problems and lead me to new research questions. At the same time, community-engaged research allows me to be deliberate about ways that research can have direct impact and how I can work with communities to answer and address questions they have. Even when a project is not using a community-engaged approach, our work really does emphasize translation and centering the experiences of diverse youth and families. As a result, we work hard to make relevant connections to practice in how we think about our research questions and how we interpret the results. Being able to see that direct impact on a family or agency is truly the most rewarding part and reminds us about the value of partnering with underserved communities in our work. At this stage in my career, I am particularly rewarded by mentoring students in conducting community-engaged research and developing research relevant for practice and policy.
If you weren’t pursuing a career in psychology, what would you be doing?
I used to be a professional dancer in my younger days, but I doubt I would still be doing that at this age! I’ve taken a few classes here and there in the last 20 years, but it’s harder now than when I was 18. I stopped dancing when I started graduate school and haven’t really looked back. I did work at a talent agency representing dancers and choreographers for a few years so the plan at one point was to try the business side of the entertainment industry. I also come from a long line of teachers, so something tells me I would be a middle or high school teacher.
Why did you join ABCT? How does your ABCT membership inform your research?
I joined ABCT during my first year in graduate school (it was still AABT then!). I remember not knowing much about professional associations at that point, but it was clear to me that this was the place to go if you were interested in cutting-edge clinical research and evidence-based practice. The convention has always been a particularly meaningful opportunity for professional development. As a student I remember presenting my first study looking at unmet mental health need in children of immigrant families as a poster at the 2007 convention. I have particularly good memories about the SIG poster session and cocktail hour, as that has always felt like a great opportunity to connect with so many members at once. Since then, the ABCT convention continues to be a place to generate new ideas and collaborations. More recently it has also become a wonderful opportunity to connect with mentors and colleagues and to meet prospective students. The newsletter, the journals, the list serve, and the convention all provide excellent opportunities for exchanging ideas, advancing clinical science and practice, and connecting with friends and colleagues who share the same values and goals for the field. More recently it has been great to see increasing attention to issues of diversity across ABCT. I look forward to ABCT continuing to be an important source for research inspiration and collaboration!