Highlighting Faculty Member Denise Chavira
Date published: 4/7/2014
My research has focused on understanding the causes of child and adolescent anxiety, examining the impact of culture on psychopathology, and developing effective ways to extend psychosocial interventions to underserved groups.
I have been fortunate enough to have a research program that addresses that needs of underserved groups including children with anxiety disorders, Latinos, and rural populations. In doing so, I have attempted to understand the multiple factors that facilitate and inhibit appropriate utilization of mental health services, and have focused many of my research efforts on improving both the detection and treatment of mental health problems in community settings, such as pediatric primary care. The integration of mental health interventions into medical settings represents a viable means of improving access and the quality of care for children with a variety of emotional disorders. Additionally, the use of novel modes of treatment delivery such as telephone based, parent-mediated, interventions, provides another means to extend mental health treatment to underserved groups such as children in rural and low-income neighborhoods.
Given the multiple contextual factors that influence the etiology of child anxiety, another avenue of my research has focused on examining how family environment and cultural factors such as acculturative stress, immigration, and conceptualizations of psychological problems influence anxiety and depression in US and foreign born Latino families. These efforts will further inform potential adaptations of existing evidence-based practices to better meet the needs of children who have been historically underrepresented in treatment development research.
Originally from East Los Angeles, I attended UC Berkeley where I earned my Bachelor's degree in Psychology. As a research assistant for a therapeutic summer camp for children with behavioral problems, I observed the profound impact that treatment research could have on children's lives, which motivated me to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology. I received my doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at the San Diego State University/University of California Joint Doctoral Program and completed my clinical internship at Brown University. Thereafter, I returned to University of California San Diego, where I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and joined the faculty in 2005. In November, 2012, I joined the faculty at UCLA's Department of Psychology, and continue to enjoy my roles as a researcher, teacher, mentor, and colleague.