Pollack Awarded Prestigious American Psychological Foundation Grant To Study Women with Perinatal Mood, Anxiety Disorders
“Mothers especially felt like it was bad to have those feelings and would often feel ashamed about them, however when we worked on accepting these feelings as a normal part of parenting, they felt great relief and more self-compassion.”
Deborah Pollack, assistant professor of psychology at UC, was awarded a $1,500 American Psychological Foundation Division 49 Group Psychotherapy Grant for her pilot study of a new group therapy intervention for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The group, called, "The Focus on Feelings Group for Mothers,” is designed to help mothers face the many complex feelings that are evoked by caring for their children, and to help them learn to identify and regulate anxiety that is often triggered by these feelings.
“I noticed that a lot of parents were struggling with normal mixed feelings toward their children - for example, anger and disappointment in addition to love,” Pollack said when asked why she chose to study this topic. “Mothers especially felt like it was bad to have those feelings and would often feel ashamed about them, however when we worked on accepting these feelings as a normal part of parenting, they felt great relief and more self-compassion.”
The funds awarded will help Pollack, along with Utica College psychology major research assistants, Sydney Pryzgoda ‘22, Derek Franco ‘22 and Cora Sawyer ‘22, examine and collect qualitative and quantitative data on the effectiveness of the group.
Pollack joined the psychology faculty in 2020. She earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Duquesne University and completed her clinical internship at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She earned a master’s in psychology from Duquesne and a bachelor’s in psychology and philosophy from St. Mary's College of Maryland.
A qualitative researcher, Pollack’s work is informed by a feminist-psychodynamic perspective. Her past research explored how socio-cultural factors influence maternal attachment and emotional expression, and how this shapes women's relationships to food and their bodies.
The prestigious grant, according to the American Psychological Association, supports research and scholarly works that further the advancement of group psychology and group psychotherapy.