At Yale, Stover Researches Domestic Violence
UMF graduate Carla (Smith) Stover, a clinical psychologist and associate research scientist at Yale University School of Medicine, says that in the United States nearly one million women each year are affected by domestic violence, which is “highly correlated” with child abuse and leads to “patterns of intergenerational violence.”
Now at the Yale University School of Medicine Child Study Center, Stover—who majored in psychology at UMF—leads the evaluation of Yale’s Domestic Violence Home Visit Intervention (DVHVI) program, which pairs Yale-based mental-health clinicians with New Haven police officers called to scenes of domestic violence. After police conduct investigations and make arrests, clinicians provide what Stover calls “psycho-educational counseling,” apprising victims about support and advocacy services available, as well as the early signs of psychiatric problems associated with domestic violence, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety—in themselves and their children.
“If victims receive some assessment, psycho-education and coping strategies in the first 30 days, PTSD may actually be reduced or avoided,” says Stover, who found lower rates of PTSD among victims treated with Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention, a brief, four-session therapeutic treatment program she and her colleagues developed for children exposed to family violence and other traumas.
Prior to earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, Stover says she found academic challenge and career-defining mentoring at UMF through the Honors Program and Department of Psychology.
“I remember taking Western Thought with Doug Rawlings [an Honors Program instructor] and turning in my first paper about Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. It was the first time I really felt challenged and invigorated in my thinking about history and the world we live in,” she recalls. “I had been a top student in my high school, but earned a B- from Doug. I was shocked at this, but through is encouragement and strong teaching, I became a better writer that semester.”
With Yale colleague Steven Berkowitz, Stover recently published “Assessing Violence Exposure and Trauma Symptoms in Young Children: A Critical Review of Measures” in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Given the success of her research, it’s hard to imagine a time when Stover didn’t want to be a clinical psychologist. (In fact, she was dead set against the discipline in her junior year of college.) But, she says, Dr. Marilyn Shea, professor of psychology at UMF, was instrumental in defining her career trajectory.
“Ultimately, she got to know me as a person during my time as a student, and she pointed me in the right direction. Without her, I doubt I would be a clinical psychologist,” Stover says. “Even after leaving UMF, I contacted her and Doug for advice on graduate school and career choices. At UMF, you find a caring faculty who can help you in pursuit of your goals.”