Research Spotlight: Hope Schuermann

Q & A with Hope Schuermann, Clinical Assistant Professor and Counselor Education Program Coordinator in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

I focus my research under two umbrellas: (1) mental health trauma, and (2) counselor education pedagogy and supervision. Within trauma, I have worked on research related to post-traumatic growth in military personnel, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and childhood trauma. In counselor education, I have explored the impact of the supervisory relationship on client outcomes, the efficacy of instruments normed on multicultural populations, creative methods of teaching empathy, and counselor educator identity development.

What makes your work interesting?

Trauma impacts us all, in one way or another. I want to know how we, as mental health professionals, can best assist clients in resolving their trauma, and how we can use education and advocacy to build towards prevention of childhood trauma. From my experiences living and working as a counselor in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, to working as a counselor in a children’s advocacy center using play therapy to help children heal from abuse and neglect, to serving on a team intervention for mental health professionals, teachers, and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary, my many experiences working with traumatized clients inform and motivate me in the work to find and understand efficacious treatments for traumatized minds. My love for researching counselor education comes from my passion for teaching and educating future mental health providers. I want to know how to mold the best counselors that can go out into the world and help people heal.

What are you currently working on?

I currently have two research projects in process, one under each umbrella, and both working within a team of graduate students. I am in the process of data transcription for a qualitative study examining counselors’ lived experiences of treating survivors of mass gun violence. Our goal for this study is to extrapolate common experiences to better inform counselors working with this unique population. The other study I am currently working on is based on an 8-week mindfulness intervention implemented in counselor education practicum (clinical) classes, to examine the impact of mindfulness education and practice on anxiety. This study began in person Spring 2019; however, the last week of our mindfulness interventions and the post-test data collection had to be moved to a Zoom format due to COVID19. We are currently in data analysis for this project, but the results should be interesting given the high amount of stress everyone was under at that time!