Whitney’s Thesis Presentation

IMG_1707Our first graduate student, Whitney, presented her
research proposal for her Thesis Project. Whitney’s thesis is entitled Animal Assisted Therapy, Perceived Social Support, and Posttraumatic Growth In Traumatized Youth.

Whitney’s main purpose of her research is:

  • To demonstrate that working with animals (animal assisted therapy, AAT) increases posttraumatic growth (PTG)
  • To provide additional support that AAT decreases posttraumatic stress symptoms
  • To illustrate how perceived social support is impacted by AAT, and whether that effect is moderated by pet affinity
  • To help demonstrate the effect of perceived social support on PTG

The lab is very excited about Whitney’s research and is eager for her to begin!

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Psy Chi Presentation



This past week the PTG lab gave a presentation about the exciting research that is taking place in the lab! All of our members attended the presentation including Dr. Kanako Taku, Whitney, Leah, Aundreah, Jessica and Shelby. The lab members briefly introduced themselves and the current research they are interested in. The presentation consisted of a brief over view of what PTG is about, some interesting findings from our last study, and an introduction of the research that is currently taking place! We are looking at whether adolescents can experience growth from victimizing others. The lab almost finished data collection from a local high school, and we are now ready to finish data coding and run some analysis! Some of our interesting findings will be presented at the upcoming conferences.

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Shelby’s Journal Club Presentation

Research member Shelby gave her first Presentation! First and second semester research assistants present an article of their choose to the other lab members. Shelby chose a study on Social Support and PTSD symptomatology in Combat Veterans. This study looked at four different tIMG_6370ypes of social support: family, friends, military peers, and significant others. The study found that the social support from, family, military peers, and significant others were significant to lower levels of PTSD in combat veterans.

Shelby is currently conducting a study of how social support predicts PTG in adolescents, and how different types of social support affects PTG. She submitted her first research abstract to the upcoming Midwestern Psychological Association.

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Update on High School Intervention Study

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The PTG lab is excited to announce that data collection for Fall semester has begun! The lab is continuing their research for the high school intervention study. They have visited a local high school, presented and discussed PTG to the students. They administered the first survey and will go back in a few weeks to administer the second round of surveys. Once data is collected and coded, we will be able to analyze the data and present our findings in future research projects and presentations.

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Jessica’s Journal Club Presentation

Lab member, Jessica presented her Journal Club Presentation on “Post-traumatic growth, stressful life events, and relationships with substance use behaviors among alternative high school students,” at our last lab meeting. IMG_6229Journal club allows lab members to pick an article of their interest regarding PTG and challenge their research skills. Jessica chose a prospective study that looked at older at-risk adolescents who reported higher levels of PTG in the aftermath of a stressful life event also looking at their substance use behaviors at the two-year follow-up.

Click here to read more about this article

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Three Students Published Papers in the Meeting of Minds Undergraduate Journal

Meeting of Minds is a yearly undergraduate conference that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to present their research and publish papers in the Meeting of Minds undergraduate journal. This past May three lab members published  papers in the journal. If your interested click on the titles and read their research!

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Aundreah’s Honors Independent Study – Research Proposal Presentation

IMG_6149Lab member, Aundreah Walenski, presented her research proposal for her honors independent study project (PSY494), entitled Multitude of Events, at our last meeting.

The purpose of this study is to investigate how PTG can occur resulting from multiple events; specifically the current exploratory study uses quantitative data to potentially discover the existence of a multi-event approach to participants’ scores on the PTGI.

IRB proposal is currently under review. Aundreah will continue her work on this project throughout the semester!

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The PTG lab welcomes Shelby Seyburn

shelby_web-025Shelby Seyburn is the newest member to the team for the Fall 2015 semester. She is currently a junior at Oakland University. Her major is in psychology and minor in Nutrition. She joined this particular lab because she found PTG to be a continuously growing area of research that needs more understanding. Her main area of interest among PTG is in adolescence. She has always been interested in this particular age group and found that there are numerous areas with undiscovered information. Generally, Shelby would like to explore the different mental states and personalities of adolescence before and after they experience trauma, along with looking at the different levels of trauma. Trauma is such a broad definition, which can be looked at in many different ways. After undergraduate school Shelby would like to pursue her education in psychology by attending graduate school, focusing on adolescents. Shelby can be reached at: sjseybur@oakland.edu.

Shelby was also very excited to read about the work Professor Kanako Taku and the PTG lab members are conducting in the Oakland Post. She is eager to begin working with the lab and continue helping their current research on high school students. To read more about the article visit www.oaklandpostonline.com.

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PTG Lab Welcomes First Graduate Student!


The PTG Lab is very excited to welcome our fist graduate student Whitney. Whitney is a first year PhD student, with a Bachelors in Psychology from Colorado State University. She is interested in pursing the relationship between animals and PTG, particularly as it pertains to traumatized children. Her ultimate goal is to establish an animal assisted therapy program for traumatized children utilizing dolphins in the wild. Currently she is assisting in a study of PTG in medical professionals, analyzing the qualitative data about the relationships between adolescents’ understanding of PTG in regards to their demographics, and examining what elements in support, including spending time with animals specifically, may be beneficial in fostering PTG. Whitney can be reached at wdominick@oakland.edu.

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How to Bounce Forward After Trauma

A recent article has been published in the Huffington Post featuring popular examples in our media from Buddha to Batman of PTG like the recent memoirs and novels: Malala Yousafzai’s book I am Malala  and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADrs. Tedeschi and Calhoun discuss in depth about the positive changes experienced after stressful life events. Click the picture or here to read this inspiring article.

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