Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2012

 Jean Baker Miller Training Institute Webinars Available On DVD

The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) at the Wellesley Centers for Women is the home of Relational- Cultural Theory (RCT), which states that culture has a powerful impact on relationships, and that people grow through and toward relationships throughout their lifespans. JBMTI scholars study the complexities of human connections, and they explore the personal and social factors that can lead to chronic disconnection. Scholars at the Institute offer online webinars that focus on current research and studies surrounding RCT. Each webinar focuses on a specific area of RCT, and allows the community to engage with JBMTI staff and faculty. Recordings of the following webinars by Amy Banks, M.D., director of advanced training at JBMTI, are now available on DVD for purchase.


The Smart Vagus: Exploring The Social Wisdom Of The Tenth Cranial Nerve*

Amy Banks, M.D.

This webinar introduces participants to the third branch of the autonomic nervous system, the smart vagus nerve. It explores the role this neural pathway plays in taming the stress response system so that we can find and maintain healthy human connection. Through interactive discussion, this webinar looks at the ways that society can shape this neural pathway and how this neural pathway then helps shape society.


Love and PTSD: Understanding The Devastating Impact Of Interpersonal Violence*

Amy Banks, M.D.

Interpersonal violence, particularly when done within the context of an intimate relationship, has long been known to leave deep psychological scars on the survivors. Over the last 20 years, as neuroimaging techniques have advanced, the neurobiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been unraveled. This webinar describes how the brains of trauma survivors are shaped by violence and how the brain changes literally leave people with PTSD feeling as if they are caught in a perpetual cycle of violence. It explores ways that clinicians can use neurobiology to help them remain empathic with clients who are often repeatedly disconnected and hopeless in therapy sessions.


*These DVDs and other Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) publications are available from the WCW Publications Office or from the online catalog. Shipping and handling must be paid by the customer for any mailed orders. Visit or call 781.283.2510 to purchase WCW publications.


Afterschool Matters Journal Available

The latest issue of Afterschool Matters, the national, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to promoting professionalism, scholarship, and consciousness in the field of afterschool education, was published this spring under the direction of Georgia Hall, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women and editor of the journal. The spring 2012 issue features articles on a citywide implementation of project-based learning in Philadelphia; positive behavior support strategies; engaging library partners in 4-H programming; action research strategies for youth work supervisors; and a personal account of how a day-school teacher’s collaboration with her afterschool counterpart benefits students.

The spring 2012 issue also features articles on creating effective learning environments for afterschool programs by Wendy Surr, M.A., NIOST research associate, and healthy eating in out-of-school time, by Jean L. Wiecha, Ph.D., Hall, Ellen Gannett, M.Ed., NIOST director, and Barbara Roth. Afterschool Matters is published by NIOST with support from the Robert Bowne Foundation. Online editions are available at:


Other Publishing News

“Can Sex Education Delay Early Sexual Debut?” by Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., Jennifer Grossman, Ph.D., Alice Frye, Ph.D., Ineke Ceder, B.A., Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., and Allison Tracy, Ph.D., has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Early Adolescence. The article reports on the first-year results of the evaluation of the comprehensive sex education intervention curriculum, Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education that Works, developed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

The evaluation uses a random assignment design, in which students in 24 participating middle schools were assigned randomly to intervention and control conditions. In the intervention schools, students were exposed to the curriculum, while in the control schools they received sex education as usual. A random assignment design is considered the gold standard in evaluation; it makes it possible to attribute change over time in intervention students’ self-reported sexual activity to their exposure to Get Real. While the full intervention is designed to be implemented in nine lessons each in grades six, seven, and eight, this study is based on survey results from students who were exposed to the first year of Get Real.

Participants were 548 boys and 675 girls who completed valid surveys in both sixth grade (baseline) and seventh grade. The sample was 35 percent Latino, 32 percent Black, 24 percent White, three percent Asian, and six percent Biracial. Overall, students in schools randomly assigned to the intervention condition were 30 percent less likely to have initiated sex (defined as heterosexual intercourse) by seventh grade when controlling for gender, age, race/ethnicity, living in an intact family, and a tendency to give socially desirable responses. This finding is noteworthy because previous research has identified “early starters” of sexual activity to be particularly prone to poor adult outcomes in sexual health, family formation, economic security, incarceration and also resistant to interventions.

Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D. co-authored “Developmental risk of depression: Experience matters” (Beardslee, W.R., Gladstone, T.R.G., and O’Connor, E.E.) in the journal Psychiatric Clinics of North America (in press).

Gladstone co-authored “Preventive interventions for children of parents with depression: International perspectives” (Beardslee, W.R., Solantaus, T., Morgan, B., Gladstone, T., and Kowalenko, N.) in the Medical Journal of Australia (in press).

“My Grandmother Was Sent Forth,” an excerpt from the memoir, Lies about My Family by Amy Hoffman, MFA (forthcoming, University of Massachusetts Press, Spring 2013), will be published in the June 2012 issue of Ocean State Review.

Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., co-authored “The Wisdom of Connection” (Surrey, J. and Jordan, J.V.) in Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening mindfulness in clinical practice, edited by Christopher K. Germer and Robert D. Siegel; publisher: Guilford Press.

Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D., authored “Reflections and Future Directions for Privilege Studies,” published in the March 2012 issue of Journal of Social Issues, Special Issue: Systems of Privilege: Intersections, Awareness, and Applications, edited by Kim A. Case and Jonathan Iuzzini.

Michelle Porche, Ph.D., co-authored “Smoking and Co-occurring Disorders: Implications for Smoking Cessation Interventions for Adolescents in Residential Addiction Treatment” (Fortuna, Porche, Alam, Douglass, and Kim) in the Journal of Dual Diagnosis (in press). Krista Douglass, a Wellesley College student (Class of 2012), was an important contributor to this and other manuscripts in progress for a project focused on gender, adversity, and risk.

Porche, in collaboration with Daniel Pallante from the Ohio Educational Development Center and Catherine Snow from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, published “Professional Development for Reading Achievement: Results from the Collaborative Language and Literacy Instruction Project” in the June 2012 issue of The Elementary School Journal. The article describes the intervention that Pallante developed to provide whole school reform that improves literacy instruction and boosts reading skills of at-risk students.

The article “Infrastructure Investment Begins with Children” by Mav Pardee in the journal Communities and Banking, was based on the study, “Building an Infrastructure for Quality: An inventory of early childhood education and out-of-school-time facilities in Massachusetts,” by Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D., Joanne Roberts, Ph.D., and Nancy L. Marshall, Ph.D.

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