Welcome to Dr. Springer’s research group. Dr. Springer is passionate about addressing mental health disparities for underserved and hard to reach populations. His research currently focuses on addressing disparities in mental health accessibility in rural populations in two ways: (1) harnessing local resources so communities can better meet their own mental health needs, and (2) the application of high quality mental healthcare through the innovative use of technology. His research has led to global partnerships in Brazil, India and Portugal, where they are in various stages of applying this model.
Current Research Projects:
Community Based Participatory Research: What is unique about my research utilizing CBPR, which is a collaborative approach to studying and addressing a problem, is that it emphasizes working within the local cultural context to build community capacity to make a difference. Emphasis is on empowering lay mental health providers so they can develop competencies and skills in addressing the mental health needs of the community. The role of “task shifting” in which community partners are trained to fill the provider gap by recognizing mental health problems and making appropriate referrals; is an important element of our model. This is essential because mental health services in rural communities are usually administered by the few primary care providers in the region. To make matters more challenging, these providers are often undertrained in addressing mental health concerns. By empowering community partners and developing community capacity among lay providers; communities are better able to address the mental health issues they are facing in preventative ways. It has been our experience when community members become a part of the solution that it reduces stigma regarding mental health, by providing accurate information and increased levels of appropriate referrals. In addition, one solution utilized to address mental health care needs in these communities is the application of Tele-mental health.
Tele-mental Health Research: The disparities in access to quality mental health care in rural and underserved populations are the result of a complex interplay between availability of mental health care providers, affordability of care , as well as the perception and acceptability of mental health care. This model emphasizes working within the local cultural context, and utilizing collaborative care practices to overcome accessibility and acceptability of care in rural communities. In particular, we partner with local medical providers to provide high quality mental health through the innovative use of technology. We are currently providing mental health treatment via distance technology in three rural communities; and will be expanding this model globally.
- Robinson, W. D., Olson, M. M., Bischoff, R. J., Springer, P. R. (2014). Community Based Participatory Research Methodology: Where family therapist can make a difference. In Richard B. Miller and Lee N. Johnson (ED.) Advanced Research Methods: A Focus on Validity and Change. (pp. ). New York: Routledge.
- Bischoff, R., J., & Reisbig, A.M. J., Springer, P. R., Schultz, Sheena, Robinson, D. W., & Olson, M.M. (2014). Succeeding in Rural Mental Health: Fitting In, Collaborating, and Developing New Skills, Contemporary Family Therapy, 35, 1-16.
- Robinson, W. D., Springer, P. R., Bischoff, R. J., Geske, J., & Olson, M. (2013). Rural experiences with mental illness: Through the eyes of patients and families. Families, Systems and Health, 30(4), 308-321. I was not notified until February of 2013 that the manuscript was already published.
- Bischoff, R., Springer, P. R., Reisbig, A. J., Lyons, S., Likcani, A. (2012). Training for collaborative practice skills for mental health professionals. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(S1), 199-2012, doi DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00299.x.
- Hollist, C. S., Falceto, O. G., Ferreira, L. M., Miller, R. B., Springer, P. R., Fernandes, C. L., Nunes, N. (2012). Portuguese translation and validation of the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38 (s1), 348-358. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2012.00296.x.
News articles featuring Dr. Springer:
Dr. Springer is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies, in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. His professional interests center on improving mental health services for underserved and hard to reach populations. This includes working in collaborative health care settings, rural populations and racial and ethnic minorities.
Graduate Student Collaborators
Nathan Taylor, MS
Degree Pursuing: PhD in Child, Youth, and Family Studies
I have been working with Dr. Springer and Dr. Bischoff on a rural model of addressing mental health disparities. This project has been an incredible opportunity as I have been able to travel to rural areas of Nebraska and work with community groups to improve mental health. This action research has been rewarding as you see firsthand the impact the research is having on the community, and as you develop collaborative relationships with rural residents.
We are currently at an exciting time as Dr. Springer and Dr. Bischoff have spent several years developing this model, and I now have had the opportunity to help in writing manuscripts, apply for grants, continue to develop research, present at national conferences, and begin implementing this model globally in areas such as Brazil and Portugal. What Dr. Springer and Dr. Bischoff have been doing is extremely innovative, as they have combined collaborative care, tele-health, community-based participatory research, and global health as a way to build capacity in rural communities to meet their mental health care needs. It has been an eye opening experience as interventions developed in rural Nebraska has the capability of making an impact globally, and meets the needs many global mental health researchers have been requesting. I look forward to the continued opportunities, both locally and internationally, the research I have been fortunate enough to participate in will bring.
Katrina Kanwischer, BA & BS
Degree pursuing: MS in Marriage and Family Therapy
My first research project with Dr. Springer and Dr. Hollist is focused on Post-partum depression in Brazilian men. For this study I have been involved with the literature review, data collaboration, and factorial analysis. The second research project I am working on with Dr. Springer and Dr. Hollist is a Brazilian study looking at infidelity through a sexual, emotional, and virtual lens. I am currently looking at various ways of assessing for these different types of infidelity as well as analyzing validated measures of infidelity that are presently available. Both of these projects are particularly important and exciting because they are both the first of their kind in Brazil.
I am excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity to work on such contemporary and current research projects. Both projects allow me to experience a diverse cultural perspective. Working with Dr. Springer, Dr. Hollist and visiting scholars from Brazil has allowed me to expand my cultural knowledge about Brazil. The experience of attending the University of Nebraska for a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy has encouraged me to broaden my own cultural competency surrounding the family system beyond Latin America and the United States, to Brazilian culture.
Alex Zurek, MS
Degree Pursuing: MS in Marriage and Family Therapy
I am currently assisting Dr. Springer and Dr. Williams in conducting a study at Madonna Rehabilitation regarding the efficacy of massage interventions for parents of children who have suffered trauma. Myself and another research assistant are working to recruit participants, measure pre-intervention stress levels through salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol, and measure post-intervention stress levels through the same hormones. The pilot study will continue for one year, and we aim to determine whether it is more beneficial for the parents to receive one massage per week, or three massages per week, over a period of two weeks.
I have found this experience to be extremely rewarding thus far, both academically and personally. I have enjoyed learning about the process of collecting and analyzing saliva samples, and am privileged to be a part of the Madonna family. Madonna Rehabilitation is a special place that does incredible work and touches the hearts of many. I look forward to continued collaboration between University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Madonna, as well as the potential implications our the current study.
Brazilian Longitudinal Study and Extension Project
Bruna Larissa Seibel, Ph.D. Candidate
Bruna is a Psychologist from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) – Brazil. At this same institution, Ms. Seibel concluded her master’s degree and is finishing a PhD focused on families living in vulnerable situation and their social support. She is one of the coordinators of the fifth wave of a longitudinal research of Brazilian families.
This study started in 1999 with a representative sample of families and has since followed the same families, in order to comprehend child development, the changing family structure, and the social context through the lifecycle. Recently, she received funding for a Brazilian program entitled Florescendo pela Educação (Flourishing Through Education). The program aims to reconnectyoung people and their families to schools in the region, in order to address the high dropout rate and the high engagement in drug trafficking among youth in this community. Beginning in 2015, the program will receive approximately 300,000 reais (roughly USD $100,000) from the Brazilian federal government for the development of the proposed intervention. In partnership with UNL Professor Brian Wilcox, we are developing a broad community needs assessment, using mixed methods to reduce the dropout rate and decrease the likelihood of involvement in drug trafficking. Professors Cody Hollist and Paul Springer at UNL have been partnering with the longitudinal study since 2005, and are assisting in the extension project through the application of Community Based Participatory Research.
Brazilian Infidelity Study
Patrìcia Scheeren, Ph.D. Candidate
Patricia is a PhD Candidate in the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Southern Brazil and a Marriage Family Therapist (INFAPA). She got her Bachelor Degree in Psychology in 2008 at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) and her Master Degree at the Université Pierre Mendès-France in France in 2010 while researching the personality traits of Brazilian women in domestic violence situation.
Since 2012 she has been working under supervision of Dr. Adriana Wagner, coordinator of the Research Center of Family Studies at UFRGS (www.ufrgs.br/relacoesfamiliares), studying infidelity in Brazilian heterosexual couples. Patricia is currently collaborating with Dr. Cody Hollist and Paul Springer at University of Nebraska Lincoln in developing a Portuguese and English questionnaire to measure the behaviors related to emotional, sexual and virtual infidelity. This questionnaire will have great impact on the field of couples’ research, especially in Brazil, allowing for a better understanding of the infidelity in heterosexual couples. The development of this questionnaire will also have additional application for clinicians in the field working with couples who have experienced infidelity.
BRAZIL: MAY 2016
Experience the wonders of Brazil through your immersion in Brazilian food, culture, traditions, nature and art. Through this study abroad experience you will gain a deeper appreciation of a culture different than your own. Unlike other study abroad experiences, you will have first-hand experiences in learning about Brazilians families their educational and healthcare system, as well as interacting with college age students, visiting schools, and experiencing the natural beauty that brazil has to offer. This experience will be truly life changing, as it will shape your worldview, develop increased empathy and capacity for compassion as you move into your desired careers.
This Study Abroad will be led by Dr. Cody Hollist and myself. We both speak Fluent Portuguese and have lived a part of our lives in Brazil! If you have any questions about this trip, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Hollist at email@example.com.
INDIA: MAY 2017
Experience the rich culture of India through interactions with Indian educators, professionals, families, and students; through their immersion in Indian art, nature, food and social traditions.
The focus of this study abroad will be in gaining a deeper understanding of human trafficking within India and globally, as we work with NGO’s in Mumbai and New Dehli’s red light district. Through this experience we will understand the influence that religion and other cultural factors plays in the lives of these women (and their children). We will also gain a deeper respect and understanding of how Indian religion, ethnicity, food and language impacts individual, families and communities within this large country. In addition, you will see tigers, the Taj Majal and amazing Indian ruins thousands of years old. This experience will be truly life changing, as it will shape your worldview, develop increased empathy and capacity for compassion as you move into your desired careers.
This Study Abroad will be led by Dr. Rochelle Dalla, May of 2017. She has extensive experience in doing research with trafficked women in India, and she has already led this tour with Dr. Richard Bischoff and Paul Springer in May 2015. If you have any questions about this trip, please contact Dr. Dalla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduate Student Association
The Department of Child, Youth and Studies has an active and vibrant Graduate Student Association. The goal of this association is to enrich graduate students’ academic and social experience, and to represent, support and promote graduate student interests in the department. This Graduate Student Association is made up of student volunteers and an elected graduate students committee who provides leadership, programming as well as a strong sense of community. They work closely with the faculty and staff to achieve its goals.
There are three Graduate Advisors, led by Dr. Paul Springer, Dr. Natalie Williams, and Dr. Dipti Dev. The Graduate Student Association Leadership is led by:
- President: Car Mun Kok
- Vice-President: Kimberly Blitch
- Secretary: Sarah Taylor
- Treasurer: Shen Qin
- PR and Media: Elsa Escalante and Jung Won