Elizabeth Watters

Elizabeth Watters, Ph.D. student, Couple & Family Therapy

Fosters resilience after childhood trauma

Hometown: Tomball, TX
Faculty mentor/advisor: Kayla Reed-Fitzke, Ph.D., LMFT
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Ph.D. in Couple & Family Therapy, Expected Graduation: Fall, 2021
Please describe your research: My research examines the long-term health impact of adverse childhood trauma (ACEs) and the protective role of resilience. I explore the interconnection of ACEs and resilience across key developmental periods (i.e., adolescence, emerging adulthood, and older adulthood), in order to understand how we can promote resilience and prevent negative mental health outcomes like anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? My work aims to promote resilience among individuals who have a history of ACEs during critical developmental periods. This research matters because when we can foster resilience among individuals with trauma, we can promote better mental, relational, and biological outcomes across the life span.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was able to start building a research line during my first semester of my Ph.D. program.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research at the University of Iowa has allowed me opportunities to collaborate with faculty and other students, publish meaningful work, and enriched by clinical knowledge and abilities.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? My hope is to be a full-time professor at a collegiate level who works with undergrads and graduate students who they themselves are working towards becoming researchers or couple and family therapists.
Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain.   Understanding how to foster resilience following trauma is crucial at this time, as the world is living with the traumatic stress of an ongoing pandemic.

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