University of Memphis Magazine
University of Memphis Photo
Summer 09 Features


Taking care of business
A point to prove
Clearing some space
Operation smile
Tapping your potential
Game play

Net gains: U of M Soccer
Domestic Violence Week
Noteworthy Happenings

For More Information:

Operation Smile: Feature Story

U of M's sixth annual Domestic Violence Awareness Week
U of M lends a hand to abuse/trauma victims

The U of M sponsors several programs designed to offset the effects of abuse/trauma, including:

Dr. Gayle Beck
Dr. Gayle Beck

The Athena Project is a research clinic at the U of M that offers free services to women who have experienced intimate partner violence or abuse. Dr. Gayle Beck, the Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Psychology, founded the clinic in 2008. Participants receive a free mental-health assessment and possible treatment designed to alleviate the signs and symptoms of post-trauma stress. The treatment includes weekly one-on-one sessions that last for eight to 12 weeks.

Named after Athena, the goddess of war, the clinic has three goals: to provide free services for an under-resourced sector of the community, to train doctoral students how to work with this population and to generate data in an area that has minimal research. Graduate students serve as the point of contact and conduct the assessments.

“The whole prevalence of intimate partner violence is immense,” says Beck. “One in four is the statistic for women who have experienced an abusive romantic relationship at some point in their lives. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department had more than 24,000 calls that were domestic violence-based last year.”

Since the children of these women have been exposed to inter-parental violence, Dr. Gilbert Parra, assistant professor of psychology, and associate professor of psychology Dr. Katherine Kitzmann have a component that deals with mental health for kids between the ages of 6 and 17. 

The clinic is using the only empirically based treatment that focuses on post-traumatic stress disorder in female survivors of domestic violence, and its developer serves as a consultant. Beck hopes to eventually add small group treatment with additional funding. Contact Beck at 901/678-3973 or for more information.

Sr. Meghan Mcdevitt-Murphy
Dr. Meghan McDevitt-Murphy

Project Bravehearts, a study led by Dr. Meghan McDevitt-Murphy, U of M assistant professor of psychology, analyzes grieving families of homicide victims. The goal is to better understand the grief process to tailor interventions for the homicidally bereaved population.

“Most interventions for grief and trauma are derived from experiences of other kinds of losses,” says Dr. Bob Neimeyer, professor of psychology.

Participants had two assessments over a six-month period and were recruited from Victims to Victory, a nonprofit organization providing services to people in the wake of homicides, founded by Dr. Kitty Lawson (EdD ’91). Contact McDevitt-Murphy at 901/678-2891 or to learn more.

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Last Updated: 1/23/12