Life Experiences in Adolescents and the Development of Skills (LEADS) Study

Supervising Faculty: Drs. Vaughn-Coaxum and Goldstein

Contact: Dr. Rachel Vaughn-Coaxum,

Area of Research: Clinical Psychology

Description of Research: The Life Experiences in Adolescents and the Development of Skills (LEADS) and Shaping Actions and Responses to Emotions (ShARE) studies are focused on examining the effects of childhood adversity on mechanisms of action in therapy-based treatments for youth depression. Both studies explore ways in which various adverse life experiences during childhood influence cognition and behavior in adolescents. The study aims to identify how these factors influence the uptake of coping skills and/or the effectiveness of different coping skills commonly taught in Cognitive Behavioral Therapies with depressed teens. Adolescents with elevated depression symptoms complete clinical interviews, self-report questionnaires, and a lab-based protocol to assess cognitive functioning. Adolescents are taught common therapy skills by a study team clinician, and they complete a lab-based post-intervention protocol. The primary areas of study include mood, cognitive control and executive functioning, therapy-based learning, and childhood adversity.

Duties of Students: Students will be involved in study recruitment, data entry and management, observation of lab-based protocol, and completion of their individual research project.


  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0037 Research Methods Lab
  • Minimum of 2 credit hours and 2 consecutive terms are necessary for sufficient training in
  • all required research methods and protocols

Recruitment Process: All students interested in our PSY 1903 directed research opportunity will be asked to submit a brief cover letter and resume. In addition to the course prerequisites students will be required to meet the follow criteria for consideration:

• • Commitment to a recurring schedule of directed research hours each week All students who demonstrate a specific interest in our research opportunities (per the content of their cover letters) will be invited to meet with Dr. Rachel Vaughn-Coaxum. She will discuss the aims of the research and the available research opportunities during that semester. She will also share her mentorship goals and the expectations for students participating in directed research with our group. Time will be reserved for students to ask questions, and all students will be asked a standard set of interview questions reviewed by myself and Dr. Vaughn-Coaxum. Students will be accepted on a rolling basis until all available positions are filled for the semester. Priority will be given to students with an interest and/or experience in working with youth, interest in youth psychopathology, and strong interpersonal skills for working with a team and with youth research participants.

Terms offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

Number of Students: 3