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02.09 Focus on Faculty – Abbie Goldberg, Ph.D.

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Part of what makes Central MA so unique is its abundance of colleges and universities. And at each institution, there are professors, instructors, and coaches who go above and beyond simply dispensing academic fact inside the classroom; this special breed of educator becomes mentor, role model, and inspiration. It is these individuals whom we honor in Focus on Faculty. If you know a professor who should be featured in this section, please contact ldean@pagioinc.com

Abbie Goldberg, Ph.D.
Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology, Clark University
By Christina Collins

focus-on-faculty
Dr. Abbie Goldberg

For Dr. Abbie Goldberg, it’s all in the family. During her four years at Clark University, this vibrant young psychology professor has devoted her teaching and research career to the incredible diversity of American families, including adoptive families, dual-earner families, and same-sex couples with children. In the process, Goldberg has inspired the research interests of many psychology students at Clark.

A graduate of Wesleyan University, Goldberg received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UMass Amherst and soon after became Assistant Professor of Psychology at Clark. Throughout her life, she has been disturbed by the media’s depictions of families, policies related to families, and society’s ideas about families. “They do not match up with the lived reality of families,” she says, pointing particularly to America’s failure to support working families. For these reasons, she has been continually invested in research that spreads awareness about the experiences and challenges that all different kinds of families face.

Goldberg’s current research project, The Transition to Adoptive Parenthood Project (TAPP), focuses on same-sex couples and heterosexual couples who, through adoption, are preparing to become parents for the first time. Over 100 participating couples are interviewed at different times: before they adopt, three months afterward, and once again two years after the adoption. “It is incredibly rewarding,” says Goldberg, “to be a part of so many families’ lives as they experience the often stressful but very joyous transition to adoptive parenthood.” And TAPP isn’t just a research project ~ it’s a support base. “We try to provide couples with some support and hope while they wait for their child.”

Not surprisingly, Goldberg is a hit in Clark’s psychology department. She has taught several courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but her favorite, she says fondly, is “Research on Diverse Families.” “Undergraduates in this course assist with my ongoing research with TAPP. It teaches them about what exactly is involved in running a large research project.” But it does more than that; it encourages her students to pursue their own independent projects. She mentions one student who is looking at how couples in TAPP navigate attachment issues when their adopted child comes home. “Another student,” Goldberg says, “is examining our couples’ preferences regarding the race of their adoptive child.” Clearly Dr. Goldberg has done more than raise awareness about family diversity; she has spread her passion to her students and inspired them to explore this unique topic on their own terms.

For more information about Dr. Abbie Goldberg and her research, visit www.clarku.edu/faculty/goldberg.

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