James Madison University

Research

Assisting Women with Sexual Trauma Histories using the Visual Communication Desensitization (VCD)

Supervising Investigator: Dr. Trevor Stokes
Contact: Nino Chkhaidze, Baird Center, chkhainx@dukes.jmu.edu

The aim of this research is to further test an interview-therapeutic tool called the Visual Communication Desensitization (VCD) procedure. The VCD facilitates interviewee communication by means of a graphical presentation that helps to minimize interviewer influence or contamination of reports and simultaneously provides emotional support and a means to decrease distress in persons with trauma experiences. The purpose of the current study is to determine the utility of the VCD when used as a therapeutic tool with women with a sexual abuse history who are currently experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression. The interview procedure and therapeutic procedures work together for the client benefit. The goal of the research is to reduce the participants' distress in relation to memories about their histories of sexual abuse, as well as examine the effects on depression and anxiety level, by their participation in the VCD procedures.

Using Coaching of Therapists & Caregivers to Enhance Verbalizations & Functional Skills by People with Autism & Brain Injury

Supervising Investigator: Dr. Trevor Stokes
Contact: Leslie Brittain, Baird Center, brittale@dukes.jmu.edu

Autism Spectrum Disorders impacts one in every 68 children, costing the United States between $11.5 billion to $60.9 billion per year.  Among the multiple impairments, behavioral deficits require intensive interventions such as applied behavior analysis (ABA). Without direct and intensive intervention, problem behaviors can impact the individual both socially and academically.  Behavior technicians, parents, and classroom assistants can all be trained as therapists and can provide services under supervision that provide significant gains in a client's behavioral functioning.  Therapists currently may not be trained in the most efficient and effective way for dealing with problem behaviors.  Coaching behavior technicians may provide them with immediate feedback and support that will increase the therapist's confidence, increase their positive interaction skills, increase their ability to manage problem behaviors, and ultimately decrease unwanted problem behaviors in children with autism so that they are able to make social and academic gains.  The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of coaching therapists on general behavior analytic management strategies so that the therapist's skill acquisition will lead to a positive interaction style that decreases problem behaviors and increases positive interactions and compliance in client's with autism.

Facilitating Transitions Through the Use of Multimodal Intervention for a Child with Autism

Supervising Investigator: Dr. Trevor Stokes
Contact: Lexi Anderson, Baird Center, ander4ae@dukes.jmu.edu

The purpose of the present study is to determine the effects of a multimodal treatment on the quality of transitions for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Intervention is intended to provide necessary yet not intrusive supports for the children to transition from one activity to the next efficiently and with minimal problem behaviors. Through the introduction of a multimodal intervention, which will utilize the evidence for auditory and visual supports of previous studies, the children are expected to transition quicker and with fewer problem behaviors than without any intervention. By the conclusion of the study, the children should be able to move from one activity to the next without verbal or physical prompts from the clinician. The researcher expects to see a decrease in the amount of time it takes for the children to transition from one activity to the next along with a decrease in frequency of problem behaviors displayed.

Using Distance Coaching for Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Teacher-Child Interaction Training (TCIT) for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties

Supervising Investigator: Dr. Trevor Stokes
Contact: Kirstin Drucker, Baird Center, druckeka@dukes.jmu.edu

The purpose of the current study is to determine if using distance coaching to provide Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Teacher-Child Interaction Training (TCIT), simultaneously, will significantly reduce a student’s emotional and behavioral difficulties in both the home and school settings. Because both PCIT and TCIT have been shown to have positive outcomes for children with developmental and behavioral challenges, this study will investigate whether if both therapies are done at the same time it will have similar outcomes. Additionally, as teletherapy becomes more commonplace, it will be important to determine if videoconferencing platforms can be used to provide these interventions.

Human Face Processing

Principal Investigator: Dr. Krisztina Jakobsen
Contact: Krisztina Jakobsen, Department of Psychology and Baird Center; 
jakobskv@jmu.edu

There is debate as to whether all primate faces are processed by a human face recognition system, or whether only human faces are processed by this system. The former idea predicts that all primate faces should be processed in similar ways, while the latter predicts that human faces should enjoy privileged processing.  Recent studies find that infants and adults detect human faces more quickly than they detect objects and other animals.  Current research is exploring the extent to which infants' experience with human faces plays a role in their ability to detect human faces with which they are familiar compared to faces with which they have less experience.

Using Evidence-Based Teaching Practices

Principal Investigator: Dr. Krisztina Jakobsen
Contact: Krisztina Jakobsen, Department of Psychology and Baird Center; 
jakobskv@jmu.edu

The use of evidence-based teaching practices helps build a learning environment that is conducive for student learning. We have two primary goals with regard to evidence-based teaching practices, (1) to contribute to the field through research studies, (2) to disseminate research findings to teachers in the community.