Learn more about some of our faculty's areas of research below.

Dr. Esther Stavrou


Dr. Stavrou’s research aims to address practical questions and problems encountered by school psychologists on a daily basis.  Since assessment is still an important part of the school psychologist’s role, her research has focused on issues surrounding the utility and validity of the tests and other assessment procedures used by school psychologists.  For example, an area of particular interest as a bilingual school psychologist has been the appropriateness of IQ tests for children from different cultural backgrounds.  As someone who trains students in psychological report writing, she is also interested in researching ways to improve the utility of psychological reports.

Another important role for school psychologists involves consultation with parents and school personnel.  She is interested in the factors that impact the consultant-consultee relationship as they relate to outcomes for students. This interest in consultation combines with her interest in report writing in studying the factors that increase the likelihood that parents and educators can and will follow through on recommendations made in reports.

A somewhat divergent area of research has been the impact of chronic illness on the academic and social functioning of school children.  Again, this addresses a practical concern of school psychologists as many report that they frequently work with chronically ill students and their families, but feel limited in their training in this area. Her students collaborate with faculty in our Clinical Health Psychology program as well as researchers at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine to conduct research on the impact of chronic illness on school functioning as well as the school psychologist’s role in fostering resilience and minimizing risk in children with chronic medical conditions

Learn more about Dr. Esther Stavrou and her Research Lab.

Dr. Greta Doctoroff

My Early Childhood Research Lab at Ferkauf focuses on understanding the relation between young children’s social-emotional, behavioral, and academic competence during early childhood. Most of my work has focused on children and families at-risk for negative outcomes due to poverty and associated risk factors. I have a particular interest in parenting, teacher-child relations, and the development and maintenance of externalizing problems.

My published work includes studies focused on the development of early academic skills, the assessment of externalizing behavior, observational research examining classroom and parent-child interactions, parent involvement in preschool, and school-based prevention and intervention programs for at-risk children and families. The goal of my research program is to identify key mechanisms in the development of children’s social-emotional and academic competence and to apply this knowledge to the development and evaluation of cost-effective, feasible prevention programs in home and preschool settings that target parenting and teaching.

Current Projects:

  • Family Focused Care within the NICU: This study focuses on parenting infants born prematurely in the context of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We are collaborating with the NICU at Weiler Hospital to investigate parent experiences with kangaroo care (skin-to-skin parent-infant holding which supports development and bonding) and family centered care within the NICU. 
  • Preschool Teacher Perspectives on Internalizing and Externalizing Problems: This study utilizes teacher surveys to examine teacher knowledge related to children’s early behavior problems and effective strategies for their management. 
  • Supporting Preschool Teachers in Preventing Problem Behavior: This study focuses on training preschool teachers to implement TCIT strategies and comparing outcomes with preschool as usual. We are particularly interested in the impact of TCIT on peer relations and self-regulation, as well as teacher experiences in implementing TCIT.

Learn more about Dr. Greta Doctoroff and her Research Lab.

Dr. Melanie Wadkins

The Ferkauf Anxiety Research Laboratory (FAR Lab) aims to conduct research that contributes to a better understanding of anxiety and related disorders. Projects are focused on improving the quality of life of children and families affected by anxiety disorders through identifying relevant aspects of living with anxiety that, if targeted, may help to improve evidence-based treatment.

Current projects include those focused on the impact of pediatric anxiety on families. When a child is anxious, parents, siblings, and others may make changes to normal family activities and routines or provide reassurance for the comfort of the anxious child. This accommodation is highly prevalent and may have an impact on the relationships between family members and the emotional well-being of others in the family. Additionally, because evidence-based treatment for childhood anxiety includes tasks which involve confronting fears and worries (exposure-based treatment), family accommodation may hinder successful treatment of childhood anxiety. Our research explores the influence accommodation has on treatment and reasons parents may continue to accommodate despite its negative impact on treatment progress. We are also looking at family relationships in an effort to improve the lives of parents who are caring for children with anxiety disorders.

*During Fall 2014, the lab will begin data collection at Westchester Jewish Community Services. Lab members will assist in leading psychoeducational groups for parents of children with internalizing disorders who receive treatment in the South Yonkers clinic, as well as collect data from the youth themselves. The families who receive treatment services at the WJCS Yonkers clinic all have limited resources and some are recent immigrants (approximately 25%). Thus I am seeking research assistants who speak Spanish.

Other current FAR Lab projects focus on the basic emotion of disgust and its relationship to the maintenance and development of psychopathology, including anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders. In particular, we have recently investigated the role of disgust in relationship to intolerance of uncertainty, scrupulosity, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms and the links between disordered eating attitudes, mindfulness, and disgust among Orthodox Jewish participants. Disgust is an understudied emotion which is often times neglected in treatment, despite emerging evidence of its relevance in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders.

*During Fall 2014, online data collection will continue looking at the links between different forms of psychopathology, disgust sensitivity, and other cognitive and affective processes associated with disgust

Learn more about Dr. Melanie Wadkins and her Research Lab.

Dr. Tracy Prout

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

There has been increasing emphasis over the last several decades on the development of effective treatments with a strong evidence base. The majority of this research has been conducted to develop and validate cognitive behavioral approaches. Psychodynamic researchers have lagged behind in developing structured, clearly defined interventions that work. Dr. Prout's  lab seeks to evaluate psychodynamic therapeutic approaches for children and adolescents and to learn more about the internal processes that
are associated with psychological distress and mental health. Current projects include:

  • Evaluating a time-limited psychodynamic treatment for children with mood-dysregulation, irritability, and aggression
  • Exploring the role defense mechanisms play in substance abuse and trauma


There is ample evidence to suggest that religion/spirituality have a largely ameliorative effect on physical and mental health. A belief in God, engaging in spiritual practices, and participating in a faith community all play a significant role in recovery and decreasing psychological distress. Dr. Prout's lab focuses on several aspects of religion/spirituality, including ways in which these constructs overlap with psychotherapy. Current projects include:

  • A large-scale evaluation of a Christian counseling intervention in an outpatient setting. Aspects of this project include: Client-therapist match on religion/spirituality variables, the role of therapeutic alliance, the effect of personality pathology on alliance, and outcomes in Christian counseling
  • Exploring the role religious service attendance, religious coping, and intrinsic religiosity play in substance abuse and trauma
  • Examining how social support and religious engagement affect treatment compliance among individuals with chronic mental illness
  • Developing a qualitative data analysis method for scoring narrative data on object representations of God
  • Evaluating the impact of clinician bias on the treatment of evangelical Christian clients

Learn more about Dr. Tracy Prout and her Research Lab