A man and women talk in a room with glass windows while people observe and take notes

VCU School of Social Work Research Vision

Building socially just communities by working together to increase knowledge that shapes innovative solutions.

Making connections

Virginia Commonwealth University’s position as a top 50 public research university means faculty are supported in their scholarship, whether they are working individually or with other faculty members. The VCU School of Social Work offers a mentorship program that encourages researchers to have a mentor within the school, elsewhere in the university and at the national level.

Research collaborations at VCU cut across departments and schools throughout the university and include partners around the world. Many of our research projects, which receive funding from federal, state, local and foundation sources, involve community-based and community-engaged activities with individuals and organizations across Richmond, the U.S. and the world.

By teaming with a wide range of collaborators and field sites, our faculty members find that they begin to think in different ways and gain new perspectives on their work.

Building the base of knowledge

The VCU School of Social Work faculty tackles research that concerns a wide range of ages and populations, studying and working with young mothers and their children, adolescents and adults. Research topics cover a broad spectrum that includes child well-being, mental health/substance abuse, neurobiology, services and treatments, and international populations.

Whether they are creating new knowledge, evaluating practice or researching policy, our faculty members ask critical questions to address the most important social issues of our time. It’s how we continue to shape the future of our field.

Faculty areas of expertise

Mental health

  • Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D.
  • Hyojin Im, Ph.D.
  • Miriam Kuttikat, Ph.D.
  • Hollee McGinnis, Ph.D.
  • Sarah Kye Price, Ph.D.

Child well-being

  • Jamie Cage, Ph.D.
  • Nicole Corley, Ph.D.
  • Youngmi Kim, Ph.D.
  • Shelby E. McDonald, Ph.D.
  • Hollee McGinnis, Ph.D.
  • Sarah Kye Price, Ph.D.
  • Sunny Shin, Ph.D.
  • M. Alex Wagaman, Ph.D.
  • Traci Wike, Ph.D.

Substance abuse

  • Karen Chartier, Ph.D.
  • Sunny Shin, Ph.D.

Populations affected by adversity

  • Matthew Bogenschutz, Ph.D.
  • Denise Burnette, Ph.D.
  • Nicole Corley, Ph.D.
  • Elizabeth Cramer, Ph.D.
  • Kyeongmo Kim, Ph.D.
  • Youngmi Kim, Ph.D.
  • Shelby E. McDonald, Ph.D.
  • M. Alex Wagaman, Ph.D.

International and refugee issues

  • Matthew Bogenschutz, Ph.D.
  • Denise Burnette, Ph.D.
  • Miriam Kuttikat, Ph.D.
  • Hyojin Im, Ph.D.
  • Youngmi Kim, Ph.D.
  • Hollee McGinnis, Ph.D.


  • Denise Burnette, Ph.D.
  • Kyeongmo Kim, Ph.D.

Scholarship of teaching and learning

  • Melissa Stewart, Ph.D.
  • Mary C. Secret, Ph.D.
  • Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D.

For questions about VCU School of Social Work’s research, please contact Jaime Petrasek, director of research administration, at

Recent faculty publications

Ascione, F.R., McDonald, S.E., Tedeschi, P., & Williams, J.H. (2018). The relations among animal abuse, psychological disorders, and crime: Implications for forensic assessment. Behavioral Sciences & the Law. Advance Online Publication.

Ayon, C., Wagaman, M. A., & Rubio-Hernandez, S. (in press) No te dejes pisotear por nadien: Examining Latino immigrants’ efforts to resist discrimination. Journal of Social Service Research.

Bentley, K.J. & Casey, R.C. (2017). Incarcerated women’s experiences and beliefs about psychotropic medication: An empirical study. Psychiatric Services, 68(4), 384-389.

Bentley, K.J., Cummings, C.R., Casey, R.C. & Kogut, C. (2018). Professional identity and shared decision-making among psychiatry residents: Designing a brief teaching module. Journal of Mental Health Education, Training and Practice, 13(2), 112-123. doi:10.1108/JMHTEP-02-2017-0009.

Bentley, K.J., Mansini, M., Jacob, A. & McLeod, D.M. (in press). Teaching research through the lens of social justice, human rights and diversity. Journal of Social Work Education.

Bledsoe, S. E., Rizo, C., Wike, T. L., Killian-Farrell, C., Wessel, J., & Bellows, A. O. (2017, online first). Pregnant adolescents’ perceptions of depression and psychiatric services in the United States. Women and Birth.

Bledsoe, S. E., Wike, T. L., Killian-Farrell, C., Bellows, A., Sommer, A., & Sheely, A. (in press). Feasibility of Treating Pregnant Adolescents with Depression in Public-health Clinics Using Brief Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Social Work in Mental Health.

Burnes, D., Lachs, M. Burnette, D. & Pillemer, K. (2017). Varying appraisals of elder mistreatment among victims: Findings from a population-based study Journal of Gerontology B: Psychological Sciences, Social Sciences doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx005 (epub ahead of print)

Butzer, B., LoRusso, A., Shin, S.H., & Khalsa, S.S. (In press). Evaluation of Yoga for preventing adolescent substance use risk factors in a middle school setting: A preliminary group-randomized controlled trial. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Casey, R.C. & Bentley, K.J. (in press).  Psychotropic medication experiences of incarcerated women: Qualitative inquiry into conundrums of access and identity. Women and Criminal Justice.

Charles, J.K.L. & Bentley, K.J. (2018). Measuring mental health provider- based stigma: Development and validation of a self-assessment instrument. Community Mental Health Journal, 54, 33-48. doi:10.1007/s10597-017-0137-4

Chartier, K. G., Hesselbrock, M. N., & Hesselbrock, V. M. (2017). Conclusion: Special issue on genetic and alcohol use disorder research with diverse racial/ethnic groups: Key findings and potential next steps. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(5). 532-537.

Chartier, K. G., Hesselbrock, M. N., & Hesselbrock, V. M. (2017). Introduction: Special issue on genetic research of alcohol use disorder in diverse racial/ethnic populations. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(5), 422-423.

Chartier, K., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Cummings, C., & Kendler, K. (2017). Environmental influences on alcohol use: Informing research on the joint effect of genes and the environment research in diverse U.S. populations. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(5), 446-460.

Chartier, K. G., Thomas, N. S., & Kendler, K. S. (2017). Interrelationship between family history of alcoholism and generational status in the prediction of alcohol dependence in U.S. Hispanics. Psychological Medicine, 47(1), 137-147.

Collins, E., Cody, A., McDonald, S. E., Nicotera, N., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2018). A template analysis of intimate partner violence survivors’ experiences of animal maltreatment: Implications for safety planning and intervention. Violence Against Women, 24(4) 452-476.

Corona, R., Velazquez, E., McDonald, S.E., Avila, M., Neff, M.R., Iglesias, A., & Halfond, R.W. (2017). Ethnic labels, pride, and challenges: A qualitative study of Latinx youth living in a new Latinx destination community. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 4, 1-13.

Corona, R., Rodríguez, V. M., McDonald, S.E., Velazquez, E., Rodríguez, A., & Fuentes, V.E. (2017). Associations between cultural stressors, cultural values, and Latina/o college students’ mental health. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(1), 63-77. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016- 0600-5

Cramer, E.P. (in press). My Entrance, Her Exit [poem]. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care. doi=10.1080/15524256.2018.1438331

Cramer, E.P. (in press).  Social justice video presentation.  [Assignment].  In L. Hitchcock, M. Sage, & N.J. Smyth.Teaching social work with digital technology.  Alexandria, VA: CSWE Press.

Cramer, E. P., Choi, Y. J., & Ross, A. I. (2017). Race, culture & abuse of persons with disabilities. In A. L. Johnson, J. R. Nelson, & E. M. Lund (Eds.). Religion, disability, and interpersonal violence (pp. 89-110). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Cramer, E.P. (2018). Small groups. In E. Hutchison (Ed). Dimensions of human behavior: Person and environment (6th ed). (pp. 343-370). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cramer, E.P., McLeod, D.A., Craft, M., & Agnelli, K. (2018). Using arts-based materials to explore the complexities of clinical decision- making in a Social Work methods course. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 37(3), 342-360. doi=10.1080/02615479.2017.1401061

Corley, N.A. & Young, S.M. (in press) Is social work still racist? An updated content analysis. Social Work

Cummings, C.R. & Bentley, K.J. (online first). Exploring dimensions of wellness among people with severe mental health challenges: Connection, awareness, congruence. Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Mental Health.

DeCarlo, M., Bogenschutz, M., Hall-Lande, J., & Hewitt, A. (in press). Implementation of self-directed supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the United States. Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

Dinora, P. & Bogenschutz, M. (2018). Narratives on the factors that influence family decision making for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Early Intervention.

Duppong Hurley, K., Lambert, M.C., Gross, T.J., Thompson, R.W., & Farmer, E.M.Z. (2017). The role of therapeutic alliance and fidelity in predicting youth outcomes during therapeutic residential care. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 25, 37-45.

Farmer, E. M. Z., Murray, M. L., Ballentine, K., Rauktis, M. E., & Burns, B. J. (2017). Would we know it if we saw it? assessing quality of care in group homes for youth. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 25(1), 28-36.

Farmer, E.M.Z., Seifert, H.P., Wagner, H.R., Murray, M., & Burns, B.J. (2017). Does model matter? Examining change across time for youth in group homes. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 25, 119-128.

Font, S. A., & Cage, J. (2017 Epub ahead of print). Dimensions of physical punishment and their associations with children's cognitive performance and school adjustment. Child Abuse & Neglect.

Gandhi, M., Manuel, J., & George, M. (Accepted)Understanding Engagement in the Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) from the Perspectives of Individuals Receiving Treatment. Social Work in Mental Health

George, M. (2017) Application of conservation of resource theory with camp refugees. Migration and Development. 6(3) , pp.460-478.

Grady, M., Wike, T. L., Putzu, C., Field, S., Hill, J., Bledsoe, S. E., Bellamy, J., & Massey, M. (in press). Recent social work practitioners’ understanding and use of evidence-based practice and empirically supported treatments. Journal of Social Work Education.

Graham, C., Inge, K., Wehman, P., Seward, H., & Bogenschutz, M. (2018). Barriers and facilitators to employment as reported by people with physical disabilities: An across-disability type analysis. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 48, 207-218.

Haden, S. C., McDonald, S. E., Booth , L.J., Blakelock, H., & Ascione, F.R. (2018). An exploratory study of incarcerated domestic violence perpetrators’ reports of violence against animals. Anthrozoös, 31(3), 337-352.

Hageman, T., Langenderfer-Magruder, L., Greene , T., Williams, J. H., St. Mary, J., McDonald, S. E., & Ascione, F. R. (2018). Intimate partner violence survivors and pets: Exploring service providers’ experiences in addressing client needs. Families in Society, 99(2), 134-145.

Hitti, S. A., Sullivan, T., McDonald, S.E., & Farrell, A. (2018). Relations between beliefs supporting aggression and externalizing outcomes: The mediating roles of anger dysregulation and callous-unemotional traits. Aggressive Behavior. Advance online publication.  

Holmes, M. R., Yoon, S., Berg, K., Cage, J., & Perzynski, A. T. (2017 Epub ahead of print). Promoting the development of resilient academic functioning in maltreated children. Child Abuse & Neglect. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.07.018

Huang, J., Kim, Y., & Sherraden, M. (2017). Heterogeneous Effects of Child Development Accounts on Savings for Children’s Education. Journal of Policy Practice, 16(1), 59.

Huang, J., Kim, Y., & Sherraden, M. (2017). Material hardship and children’s social-emotional development: Testing mitigating effects of Child Development Accounts in a randomized experiment. Child: Care, Health & Development, 43, 89-96. DOI: 10.1111/cch.12385

Huang, J., Kim, Y., Sherraden, M., & Clancy, M. (2017). Unmarried Mothers and Children’s Social-Emotional Development: The Role of Child Development Accounts. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(1), 234-247. DOI: 10.1007/s10826-016-0551-1

Hutchison, E., & Cramer, E. (2017). Small groups, formal organizations, and communities. In E.  Hutchison (Ed.), Essentials of human behavior: Integrating person, environment, and the life course (2nd ed.). (pp. 225-260).  Los Angeles: Sage.

Im, H. (2018). Constructing health capital in ecological systems: A qualitative evaluation of community-based health workshops in the refugee community. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(4), e541-e551.

Im, H., Ferguson, A.B., Warsame, A.H., & Isse, M.M. (2017). Mental Health Risks and Stressors Faced by Urban Refugees: Perceived Impacts of War and Community Adversities among Somali Refugees in Nairobi. International Journal of Social Psychiatry. 63(8), 686-693.

Im, H., Ferguson, A.B., & Hunter, M. (2017). Cultural Translation of Refugee Trauma: Cultural Idioms of Distress among Somali Refugees in Displacement. Transcultural Psychiatry. 54(5-6), 626-652.

Im, H., Jettner, J.F., Warsame, A.H., Isse, M.M., Khoury, D., & Ross, A. (2018). Trauma-Informed Psychoeducation for Somali refugee youth in urban Kenya: Effects on PTSD and Psychosocial Outcomes. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma.

Im, H. & Swan, L.E.T. (2018). A Qualitative Exploration of Critical Health Literacy among Afghan and Congolese Refugees Resettled in the USA. Health Education Journal – Special Issue: Health Education and Migration. Advanced online publication.

Inge, K., Graham, C., Bogenschutz, M., Wehman, P., Erickson, D., & Seward, H. (2018). Barriers and facilitators to employment: As reported by individuals with spinal cord injuries. Journal of Rehabilitation, 84(2), 22-32.

Jordan, J., Patel, N., & Bentley, K.J. (2017). Emerging adult identity following adolescent experiences with psychotropic medications. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 27(7), 694-705.

Kim, Y., Huang, J., Sherraden, M., & Clancy, M. (2017). Child Development Accounts, Parental Savings, and Parental Educational Expectations: A Path Model. Children and Youth Services Review, 79 (August), 20-28.

Kim, Y., Huang, J., Sherraden, M, & Clancy, M. (2018). Child Development Accounts and saving for college: Mediated by parental educational expectations? Social Science Quarterly. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/ssqu.12479

Kim, Y., Park, A, & Huang, J. (2017). Does food insecurity increase depressive symptoms in South Korea? Asian Social Work and Policy Review, 11, 30-39. DOI: 10.1111/aswp.12111

Kim, Y., Park, A., & Kim, K. Food insecurity and depressive symptoms of older adults living alone in South Korea. Ageing and Society. Published online: 06 May 2018

Kuttikat, M., Vaillancourt, A., & Massey, M. (2018). A grounded theory investigation into the experiences of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India: Effects on resilience and identity and implications for service provisions. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care. IJMHSC-04-2017-0013.R1.

Martinez, P., Cummings, C., Karriker-Jaffe, K. J., & Chartier, K. G. (2017). Learning from Latino voices: Focus groups’ insights on participation in genetic research. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(5), 477-485.

McDonald, S. E., Cody, A. M. , Booth L. J. , Peers, J.R., Luce, C.O., Ascione, F.R., & Williams, J. H. (2018). Animal cruelty among children in violent households: Children's explanations of their behavior. Journal of Family Violence, 33(7), 469-480.

McDonald, S. E., Cody, A., Collins, E., Stim, H., Nicotera, N., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J.H. (2018). Concomitant exposure to animal abuse and socioemotional adjustment among children exposed to intimate partner violence: A mixed methods study. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 11(3), 353-365.

McDonald, S. E., Collins, E., Maternick, A., Nicotera, N., Graham-Bermann, S., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2017). Intimate partner violence survivors’ reports of their children’s exposure to companion animal maltreatment: A qualitative study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0886260516689775

McDonald, S. E., Dmitrieva, J., Shin, S., Hitti, S. A., Graham-Bermann, S., Ascione, F.R., & Williams, J.H. (2017). The role of callous/unemotional traits in mediating the association between animal abuse exposure and behavior problems among children exposed to intimate partner violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 72, 421-432.

McDonald, S. E., Im, H., Green, K. E., Luce, C. O., & Burnette, J.D. (2018). Comparing factor models of PTSD with Somali refugee youth in Kenya: An item response theory analysis of the PCL-C. Traumatology. Advance Online Publication.

McDonald, S. E., Ma, L., Green, K. E., Hitti, S. A., Cody, A., Donovan, C., Ascione, F. R., & Williams, J. H. (2018). Evaluation of the parent-report version of the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits in a sample of children recruited from intimate partner violence services: A multidimensional Rasch analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74(3), 418-441.

O’Shea, T., Thomas, N. S., Webb, B. T., Dick, D. M., Kendler, K. S., & Chartier, K. G. (2017-epub). ALDH2*2 and peer drinking in East Asian college students. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Park A, & Kim, Y. (2018). The Longitudinal Influence of Child Maltreatment on Child Obesity in South Korea: The Mediating Effects of Low Self-Esteem and Depressive Symptoms. Children and Youth Services Review, 87 (April), 34-40.

Price, S.K., Coles, D.C. & Wingold, T.A. (in press). Integrating Behavioral Health Risk Assessment into Centralized Intake for Maternal and Child Health Services. Health and Social Work.

Rosenberg, R., & Kim, Y. (2018). Aging out of Foster Care: Homelessness, Post-Secondary Education, and Employment. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 12(1), 99-115.

Secret, M., Abel, M., Ward, C., Perkins, N. & Charles, J, (2017). Research knowledge assessment: A study of MSW students’ acquisition and retention of research knowledge. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(3).480-494.

Secret, M, Bryant, N. & Cummings, C. (2017). Teaching an interdisciplinary graduate level methods course in an openly-networked connected learning environment: A Glass half full. Journal of Educators Online, 14(2), 90-106.

Secret, M., Ward, C., & Newmark, A. (In Press). Converting a face-to-face introductory research methods course to an online format: Pedagogical issues and technological tools. Journal of Teaching in Social Work.

Segal, E. A. & Wagaman, M. A. (2017). Social empathy as a framework for teaching social justice. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(2), 201-211. DOI 10.1080/10437797.2016.1266980

Shaffer, C. M., Corona, R., Sullivan, T.N., Fuentes, V. & McDonald, S. E. (2018). Barriers and supports to dating violence communication between Latina adolescents and their mothers: A qualitative analysis. Journal of Family Violence, 33(2), 133-145.

Shelton, J., Wagaman, M. A., Small, L., & Abramovich, A. (2017). I’m more driven now: Resilience and resistance among transgender and gender expansive youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. International Journal of Transgenderism. DOI:10.1080/15532739.2017.1374226

Sherraden, M., Clancy, M., Nam, Y., Huang, J., Kim, Y., Beverly, S., Mason, L., Williams Shanks, T., Wikoff, N., Schreiner, M, & Purnell, J. Universal and Progressive Child Development Accounts: A Policy Innovation to Reduce Educational Disparity. Urban Education. Online First Dec 2016.

Shin, S., McDonald, S. E., Conley, D. (2018). Profiles of adverse childhood experiences and impulsivity. Child Abuse & Neglect. Advance Online Publication.

Shin, S. H., McDonald, S.E., & Conley, D. (2017). Patterns of adverse childhood experiences and substance use among young adults: A latent class analysis. Addictive Behaviors.

Wagaman, M. A., Obejero, R. C., & Gregory, J. S. (2018). Countering the norm, (re)authoring our lives: The promise counterstorytelling holds as a research method with LGBTQ youth and beyond. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. DOI 10.1177/1609406918800646.

Wagaman, M.A., Shelton, J., & Carter, R. (in press) Queering the social work classroom: Strategies for increasing inclusion of LGBTQ people and experiences. Journal of Teaching in Social Work.

Walsh, J. (2017). The appropriateness of physical contact with clients who have schizophrenia. Social Work in Mental Health, DOI: 10.1080/15332985.2017.1304497.

Walsh, J. (2017). “Oh, don’t get your hopes up about that. He’ll never be the same”. Social Work with Groups, 40(1-2), 77-80.

Walsh, J. (2017). Schizotypal personality disorder: A clinical social work perspective. Journal of Social Work Practice, 31(1), 67-78.

Walsh, J. (In press). Confessions of a reluctant macro practitioner. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping.

Wike, T. L., Grady, M. D., Massey, M., Bledsoe, S. E., Bellamy, J. L., Stim, H., & Putzu, C., (in press). Factors influencing the use of the EBP process among newly licensed social work practitioners. Journal of Social Work Education.

Zimmerman, E.B., Cook, S.K., Haley, A.D., Woolf, S.H., Price, S.K. & The Engaging Richmond Team. (2017). A Patient and Provider Research Agenda on Diabetes and Hypertension Management. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(1), 123-129.