Melissa L. Whitson, Ph.D.

Melissa L. Whitson Headshot
Associate Professor

College of Arts & Sciences

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Community Psychology, Yale University

Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, Columbia University 

M.S., Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles

B.A., Psychology, with Honors, Lafayette College

About Melissa

My current research interests include examining risk factors, protective factors, and services that affect mental health outcomes for low-income children and families and the implications for prevention and intervention. In particular, much of my research has focused on children who have been exposed to trauma and their families.

As a licensed community-counseling psychologist, I feel it is important to engage in research activities that not only expand the knowledge base, but also can be translated into programmatic initiatives that have direct impact on settings that can affect child mental health outcomes. My research has practical implications for many low-income children and families as well as the service systems in which they are embedded. In the future, I hope to garner funding to continue this research and expand upon the application and implication of the results, with the aim of influencing intervention programs as well as policy. I also hope to branch out and collect new data at various youth-serving agencies in the New Haven community. As part of these future goals, I intend to offer opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate researchers to be involved in order to provide them with applied research experience.

Although this is my current research area I have conducted research in other areas as well, including career development and adolescent pregnancy. I love many different areas of psychology and engage in a variety of psychological activities. For example, my dog and I are a registered Animal-Assisted Therapy Team. In addition, I work with several different New Haven youth agencies. I am very open to working with students on research projects that examine their own research questions and ideas.

Published Books and Articles

Whitson, M.L. & Connell, C.M. (2016). The Relation of Exposure to Traumatic Events and Longitudinal Mental Health Outcomes for Children Enrolled in Systems of Care: Results from a National System of Care Evaluation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 57, 380-390. DOI: 10.1002/ajcp.12058

Whitson, M.L. , Bernard, S., & Kaufman, J.S. (2015). The Mediating Role of Parenting Stress for Children Exposed to Trauma: Results from a School-Based System of Care. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1141-1151. DOI: 10.1007/s10826-014-9922-7

Bernard, S., Whitson, M.L., & Kaufman, J.S. (2015). The Moderating Effect of Positive Father Engagement and Accessibility on a School-based System of Care Intervention for Mental Health Outcomes of Children.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(10), 2923-2933. DOI: 10.1007/s10826-014-0096-0

Weston, R.M. & Whitson, M.L. (2014).The advisor-advisee relationship in graduate Community Psychology programs. The Community Psychologist, 47, 34-35.

Whitson, M. L. Bernard, S., & Kaufman, J. S. (2013). The effects of cumulative risk and protection on problem behaviors for impoverished youth of color in a school-based system of care. Community Mental Health Journal, 49, 576-586.

Crusto, C.A., Whitson, M.L ., Feinn, R., Gargiulo, J., Holt, C., Paulicin, B., Simmons, W., & Lowell, D.I. (2013). Evaluation of a Mental Health Consultation Intervention in Preschool Settings. Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal, 9, 1-21.

Whitson, M.L. , Connell, C.M., Bernard, S., & Kaufman, J.S. (2012). An examination of exposure to traumatic events and symptoms and strengths for children served in a behavioral health system of care. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 20(3), 193-207.  DOI: 10.1177/1063426610380596

Whitson, M.L., Martinez, A., Ayala, C., & Kaufman, J.S. (2011). Predictors of parenting and infant outcomes for impoverished teen parents. Journal of Family Social Work, 14, 284-297.

Crusto, C.A., Whitson, M.L., Walling, S. N., Feinn, R., Friedman, S., Reynolds, J., Amer, M., & Kaufman, J. S. (2010). Posttraumatic stress among young urban children exposed to family violence and other potentially traumatic events. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23.

Whitson, M.L., Bernard, S., Connell, C.M., & Kaufman, J.S. (2010). The Impact of youth and family risk factors on services recommendation and delivery in a school-based system of care. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research. PMID: 20165927

Whitson, M.L., Bernard, S., & Kaufman, J.S. (2009). Systems of care and the prevention of mental health problems for children and their families: Integrating counseling psychology and public health perspectives. Prevention in Counseling Psychology: Theory, Research, Practice and Training, 3, 3-9.

Whitson, M.L. & Kaufman, J.S. Evaluation of Central High School's "Leadership Group." New Haven, CT: The Consultation Center, Yale University School of Medicine, 2009.

Kaufman, J.S., Griffin, A., & Whitson, M.L. PARK Project: Wrap-Around Evaluation Report. New Haven, CT: The Consultation Center, Yale University School of Medicine, 2009.

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