Doctoral Faculty Research Interests
PhD in Mental Health Counseling
Visit the PhD in Mental Health Counseling program page for more information about how to apply, curriculum, and outcomes.
Paul W. Griffin, PhD
Dr. Griffin’s research reflects his graduate training in both counseling and developmental psychology. Dr. Griffin is broadly interested in adult development, though much of his research has particularly focused on subject well-being (e.g., happiness) and eudaimonic well-being (e.g., meaning and purpose). Related to the theme of well-being, Dr. Griffin has recently chaired dissertation projects pertaining to the role of flow in police officers’ job satisfaction, and the effects of grit on college freshman. In the area of counseling, Dr. Griffin has published on variety of issues, including grief therapy, group counseling, and multicultural considerations in practice. His newest research endeavor is to better understand how nonbelief affects the counseling relationship and counselor identity.
Alfred Ward, PhD
Anthony Mancini, PhD
Dr. Mancini’s research focuses on the different ways people respond to potentially traumatic events, including the Virginia Tech Campus shootings, military deployment, the 9/11 terrorist attack, Hurricane Sandy, traumatic injury, life threatening illness, and bereavement. He also examines the ways that stress can stimulate social connection and improve psychological functioning, how networks of PTSD symptom develop over time, and how analog stress paradigms can illuminate the stress response in experimental lab settings. See Dr. Mancini’s research group, The Trauma, Social Processes, and Reslience Lab.
Michael Tursi, PhD - LMHC
Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Tursi is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). He is interested in qualitative research, especially research focused on clients’ experiences of counseling and the influence of client variables on the counseling process. Dr. Tursi is also interested in person-centered and other humanistic counseling theories in addition to integrative counseling approaches.
Ross Robak, PhD - Licensed Psychologist, LMHC
Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology
Dr. Robak’s research extends across a number of different areas. Much of his recent work has studied factors that affect the group counseling process. He is also interested in self-definition and self-perception, as well as self-determination theory and it application to counselor education. Other previous research has examined the relationship between money and life-satisfaction.
Joseph R. Franco, PhD - LMHC, NCC
Dr. Franco is director of both the Master’s program and Clinical Field Supervision. He is a Counselor Educator, Practicing Clinician, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. He is currently Membership Chair of the New York Mental Health Counselors Association (NYMHCA) and had previously served as President. He recently published his book, Aspirations of Italian-American College Students: The impact of family traditions, mentorship, career interventions, and counseling for professional success. Dr. Franco’s research interests include counseling strategies with ethnic minorities and LGBTQQI clients, supervision models for counselor educators and advocacy in the mental health counseling profession. He is the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award for his commitment to NYMHCA, Outstanding Counselor Educator Award for teaching excellence and the Pace University Kenan Award for teaching excellence.
Sheila Chiffriller, PhD - Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Chiffriller’s research has focused on understanding the phenomenology of intimate partner violence and factors associated with college student general well-being. Her research topics have included behavioral and psychological correlates of domestic violence and the impact of substance use and concussion on collegiate athletes’’ academic performance, and prevalence and health risk of body art among college students. Most recently, her research has combined her interests and she has begun to focus on predictors of, and responses to dating violence on college campuses. Dr. Chiffriller continually mentors both undergraduate and graduate students to facilitate the development of their research skills and prepare them for various doctoral programs in counseling and psychology.
Maren Westphal, PhD - Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Westphal’s research aims to further understanding of how emotion regulation may contribute to resilience and psychopathology, with focus on flexibility in emotional expression, attentional biases to emotion, mindfulness, and self-compassion. Her research has looked at these variables in the context of immediate threat and cumulative life stress and in relation to work-related stress and early adversity. She has also investigated the impact of exposure to potentially traumatic life events among ethnic minority patients in primary care. Dr. Westphal currently investigates mindfulness as a longitudinal predictor of mental health in health professionals and mindfulness and self-compassion as predictors of treatment outcome in cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.
Angela Legg, PhD
Broadly, Dr. Legg’s research focuses on improving dyadic relations marked by potential threat. To this end, she examines relationships marked by power differentials in high stakes situations such healthcare and education. She is specifically interested in how people develop rapport in these potentially threatening dyads (doctor-patient, professor-student, and manager-employee, for example) and how people communicate threatening information such as bad news and negative evaluative feedback. Dr. Legg’s research also maps social/health psychology theories of communication and bad news delivery onto the counselor-client relationship. She is also interested in how individuals decide to pursue potentially threatening information such as their genetic risk factors.