Date published: 09/26/22
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is estimated to affect almost 4% of the world’s population. However, most people are unable to access treatment. The TRUST lab develops PTSD treatments that address barriers to care and are contextually and culturally appropriate for diverse communities.
The TRUST lab has a specific focus on multiply marginalized communities who are the most underserved and underrepresented in research and clinical care. Part of the mission of our lab is to give voice to the lived experiences of communities who are often ignored or actively excluded from research.
The PTSD treatment gap is greatest for those most affected by trauma and those with the fewest resources. In high-income countries, low-income, minoritized communities are at highest risk of exposure to traumatic events and shoulder the greatest mental health burden, but have the least access to care. This health disparity is further exacerbated in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) which are disproportionately affected by individual- and population-level trauma exposure, including road traffic deaths, gender-based violence, devastating natural disasters, and war and armed conflicts. To increase access to high-quality treatment for all, we work with community partners to decrease “science-to-service” gaps in providing effective and sustainable mental health care.
Culture and context also effect what types of events are considered traumatic and how post-trauma symptoms are expressed and understood. Measurement tools, like symptom screeners must be linguistically, culturally, and contextually adapted to ensure that they are accurate and appropriate. To this end, we have developed and validated assessment tools for use in a variety of populations affected by adversity, including in the US, Ethiopia, India, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Bio: I am African-American and Chinese-American, and my multiracial background has given me a unique perspective on intergroup relations and identity. By the time I was an adolescent I knew my future career would involve trying to understand how to ameliorate the impact of prejudice and discrimination. I also had increasing awareness of civil wars, ethnic conflict, and genocide that were raging in many parts of the world including Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan. I saw ethnic conflicts and genocide as the ultimate manifestation of discrimination. I wanted to know what happened psychologically to people impacted by violence. Pursuing this passion, I completed my undergraduate degree in psychology at Yale University, where I studied human rights, ethics and global health. In 2012 I received my PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California (USC) and I completed postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and in the Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). I was an Assistant Professor in Boston University’s Department of Psychiatry prior to joining the UCLA psychology faculty in 2019. I enjoy exploring the world with my wanderlust wife and child.