Clinical Psychology

Photograph of Grace Huble, Ph.D.

Dr. Grace Hubel

I am a clinical psychologist who studies the promotion of child well-being and the prevention of child abuse and neglect. This work involves intervening to assist important people in the lives of children, such as teachers and parents, with providing nurturing early care environments. Some examples of my work include co-directing a mental health consultation program for Charleston County Head Start and Early Head Start programs; evaluating the efficacy of an intervention designed to improve the physical and mental health of teachers who work with infants and toddlers; and developing health messages to better connect mothers to reproductive health services. Students in my lab collect data, observe direct services offered in the community as part of applied research, design independent projects, and have the opportunity to present posters at local, regional and national conferences. I enjoy mentoring students who are interested in pursuing graduate education in psychology or other related health care professions. Students who conduct research in my lab are provided with training, guidance, and opportunity to engage in experiences that will best prepare them to achieve their individual goals for graduate school and professional work.

Photograph of Sarah Robertson, Ph.D.

Dr. Sarah Robertson

I am a clinical psychologist, and my research centers around the understanding and treatment of mental health symptoms.  My research program primarily involves assessing the efficacy of expressive writing interventions.  More specifically, I’m interested in how expressive writing interventions help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in college students.  Expressive writing interventions are typically completed on three consecutive days, and I also collect long-term follow-up data to better understand the durability of symptom improvement.  My most recent studies have been focused on the efficacy of a COVID-focused expressive writing intervention in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. 


A second focus of my research program involves identifying mental health factors associated with the expression of autobiographical narratives in early and late adulthood. Clinical psychologists often discuss the importance of the story-telling process in the context of psychotherapy, with one main thesis asserting that telling difficult stories about one's past allows one to extinguish the fear associated with that particular story/event and ultimately heal from the associated pain. Avoidance of painful events is associated with negative mental health outcomes, and likewise, telling stories about painful events is associated with the promotion of healing. This part of my research program involves assessing how mental health variables affect the emotional expressivity of autobiographical narratives, how mental health variables affect one's physiology (heart rate and blood pressure) during the expression of these autobiographical narratives and how aging might affect these processes across the lifespan, particularly in relationship to the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory (SST). Students in my lab collect data with participants, conduct statistical analyses, contribute to the publication of manuscripts, and present posters and talks at local, regional, and national conferences.


Recent Publications:

Robertson, S. M. C., Short, S. D., *Sawyer, L., & *Sweazy, S. (2021). Expressive writing as a mechanism for reducing anxiety in first-year college students: The role of writing quality. Psychology and Health, 36, 1041-1065.

Robertson, S. M. C., Short, S., *Asper, A., *Venezia, K., *Yetman, C., *Connelly, M. & *Trumbull, J.  (2019).  The effect of expressive writing on symptoms of depression in college students:  Randomized controlled trial.  The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 38, 427-450.

Robertson, S.M.C., Swickert, R.J., *Connelly, K. & *Galizio, A. (2015).  Physiological reactivity during autobiographical narratives in older adults: The roles of depression and anxiety.  Aging and Mental Health, 19, 689-697.

Swickert, R., Robertson, S.M.C. & *Baird, D. (2016).  Age moderates the mediational role of empathy in the association between gender and forgiveness. Current Psychology35, 354-360.

Robertson, S.M.C., Hopko, D.R. (2013).  Emotional expression as a function of aging and gender: Support for the socioemotional selectivity theory. Journal of Adult Development, 20, 76-86.

* denotes student collaborators

Photograph of Thomas Ross, Ph.D.

Dr. Thomas Ross

Since arriving at the college, I have sustained a program of research in the area of neuropsychological assessment with an emphasis on psychometrics. These activities are concerned with investigating the reliability and validity of measurement tools developed to assess cognitive impairment in persons who sustain neurological trauma or disease. I examine the basic measurement properties of such tests in healthy persons without neurological disease. My work in this area is described below, as are my efforts to involve students in all aspects of research.

Executive Functioning Research Program. This program examines the psychometric properties of putative measures of novel problem solving and reasoning (i.e., “executive functions”). Additionally, I strive to better understand the cognitive abilities mediated by the activity of the prefrontal cortex. I routinely conduct investigations of neuropsychological measures by (a) systematically examining the mental abilities required for effective performance on these tasks and (b) subjecting the procedures for test scoring and administration to psychometric scrutiny. That is, I investigate such matters as (1) Do the scoring procedures result in acceptable agreement (i.e., inter-scorer reliability) when separate raters apply the criteria independently? (2) Are the scores generated by these procedures stable over time when individuals are evaluated using the same measure across two testing occasions (i.e., test-retest reliability)? (3) Does the test indeed measure what it’s purported to measure (i.e., construct validity), as indicated by the observed relationships that result when the test is compared with other well-known test procedures? (4) Does the test predict outcomes or other criteria in a manner consistent with the theory that guided its development (i.e., criterion-related validity)? (5) Do healthy college students constitute a valid population of “normal (i.e., control)” participants from which to sample neuropsychological functioning for comparison purposes? The benefits of this line of research include a better understanding of brain-behavior relationships and the identification of better methods for assessing acquired cognitive disabilities in persons who sustain neurological trauma or disease.

Students who work with me are often those who also apply for graduate studies in clinical psychology or a related area (e.g., school psychology). Students can gain experience in executing every phase of research (e.g., conducting literature reviews, designing studies, obtaining IRB approval, data collection and database management, data analysis and interpretation, and manuscript preparation). Because of the focus on neuropsychological assessment, students will have the opportunity to acquire some important skills that are highly relevant to clinical, counseling, and school psychology. Namely, students will have the opportunity to interview research participants and administer psychological tests (e.g., WAIS-IV IQ subtests and Extended Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Battery). Some students who volunteer to work in my lab later choose to complete a research project of their own via Independent Study or Bachelor’s Essay work. Everyone who works in the lab will gain valuable research experience, mentorship/career guidance, and a strong letter of recommendation to support their professional development. Several students have co-authored research presentation and published manuscripts as a result of volunteering in my lab.