Student Spotlight Award Recipient - Emily Brenny Kroska

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Emily Krosca2

Congratulations to Emily Brenny Kroska on being selected as one of the Student Spotlight Award recipients!

The purpose of this award is to highlight students who are doing important work in the CBS community whether for research, clinical, and/or volunteer-humanitarian efforts.

This is a way to highlight their achievements, let the ACBS community know important work students are doing, and possibly provide a platform for mentoring/collaboration/professional development/conversations around highlighted areas.

Learn more about Emily:

Background of CBS Research/Clinical/Volunteering efforts/achievements:
I began learning ACT during my first year at the University of Iowa from Dr. James Marchman. Since that time, I have focused much of my research on exploring avoidance as a target for intervention, as well as intervention and prevention efforts with ACT. I completed a meta-analysis of the association between avoidance and pain intensity among chronic pain patients, as well as several studies examining avoidance as a mediator of the association between traumatic experiences and adverse outcomes, including obsessive-compulsive symptoms, internalizing symptoms, somatic symptoms, and problematic health behaviors. In addition, I have collaborated with community organizations, including an alternative high school and the Iowa Department of Corrections, to develop and implement interventions within these contexts to integrate ACT into the community. As a volunteering effort, I worked with children involved in Boys and Girls Club in Iowa to deliver brief ACT interventions to both the children and their parents. Furthermore, my dissertation is examining the question of how much is enough in brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, comparing three single session time-variant group ACT interventions.

Three sentence summary of CBS research/clinical/volunteering efforts/achievements:
My research at the University of Iowa has focused on identifying avoidance as a target for intervention among individuals who have experienced trauma. In addition, I have worked to develop and implement ACT in a range of contexts and populations through intervention and prevention research. Through collaboration with community organizations and public engagement in research, I have been fortunate to integrate ACT into broader contexts to reach at-risk populations who are frequently not targeted for psychological intervention.

Links to any relevant publications you have participated in:

I am a fifth year doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa, where I work with Dr. Michael O'Hara. In my time at Iowa, I have been fortunate to learn about functional contextualism from Dr. James Marchman, an expert clinician whose depth of ACT knowledge is remarkable. I was introduced to ACT in my first year at Iowa, and I have been able to work clinically with at-risk adolescents, prisoners, migraine patients, and depressed adults. My passion for ACT has grown as I have collaborated with community organizations and providers to integrate ACT into broader systems, including the Iowa Department of Correctional Services. In the future, I hope to broaden the contexts into which I can disseminate ACT and become an ACT trainer. I have found that the fundamental ACT processes apply to those from all walks of life, and the common humanity involved when implementing ACT creates space for clients to grow and evolve into a more flexible self. I firmly believe that if exposed to these skills at an early age, children and adolescents may experience a radical change in trajectory with regard to psychopathology, but more importantly, connection with values--both emotionally and behaviorally. In particular, children and adolescents who are at-risk may be particularly likely to benefit from early intervention. It is my hope that my career can be dedicated to the dissemination and implementation of ACT into contexts where I can directly intervene with at-risk populations, such as schools, medical settings, and prisons.

Future goals:
As a researcher, mentor, and clinician, I hope to disseminate acceptance- and mindfulness-based therapies into broader contexts of at-risk populations, where the principles can have a far-reaching impact upon both the individuals and the context itself.