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Melanie Elyse Brewster

Professional Background

Educational Background

University of Florida (APA accredited), Ph.D Counseling Psychology
         Concentration: Sexuality, gender, and race
         Dissertation: The roles of cognitive flexibility, bicultural self-efficacy, and minority stress in the mental health
                              of bisexual individuals.

University of Utah (APA accredited), Pre-doctoral Clinical Internship
University of Florida, M.S. Psychology University of Florida, B.S. Psychology                  
University of Florida, B.A. Criminology

Scholarly Interests

Mental health correlates of discrimination and stigma
Intersections of personal identities (e.g., sexual orientation, gender, race, religion)
Social justice in the workplace
Atheism and nonreligious identities
Measurement development and evaluation

Selected Publications


Brewster, M.E. (2014). Atheists in America. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Purchase here.


Bold denotes Teachers College student collaborators

Foster, A., & Murray, J., & Brewster, M.E. (in press). Biculturalism and transgender identities. SAGE Encyclopedia of Psychology and Gender. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Brewster, M.E. (in press). Gender transitions at work. In A. Goldberg (Ed.). The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies. New York, NY: Sage Publications.

Smith, L., & Brewster, M.E. (2014). Counseling in the Context of Poverty, Homelessness, and Classism. In P. Pedersen, J. Draguns, W. Lonner, J. Trimble, & M. Scharron del Rio (Eds.). Counseling Across Cultures, 7th Edition. New York, NY: Sage Publications.

Brewster, M.E., & Sawyer, J. (2014). Atheism and the American Family. In L. Ganong, M. Coleman, & G.J. Geoffrey (Eds.). The Social History of the American Family. New York, NY: Sage.

Brewster, M.E. (2013). Atheism, Gender, and Sexuality. In S. Bullivant & M. Ruse (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

DeBlaere, C., & Brewster, M.E. (2013). Diversity Across the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Community. In E. Fisher & K. Komosa-Hawkins (Eds.), Creating Safe and Supportive Learning Environments: A Guide for Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Youth and Families (pp. 73-88). New York, NY: Routledge.


Bold denotes Teachers College student collaborators

Brewster, M.E., Velez, B.L., Foster, A., Esposito, J., Robinson, M.A. (in press) Minority Stress and the Moderating Role of Religious Coping Among Religious and Spiritual Sexual Minority Individuals. Journal of Counseling Psychology

Robinson, M.A., & Brewster, M.E. (in press) The Development of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Affiliate Stigma Measure. Journal of Family Psychology

Rabinovitch, A. E., Perrin, P. B., Tabaac, A. R., & Brewster, M. E. (in press). Coping styles and suicide in racially and ethnically diverse lesbian, bisexual, and queer women. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

Breslow, A., Brewster, M.E., Velez, B.L., Wong, S., Geiger, E., & Soderstrom, B. (in press) Resilience and Collective Action: Exploring Buffers Against Minority Stress for Transgender Individuals. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

Keum, B., Wong, S., DeBlaere, C., & Brewster, M.E. (2015). Asian American men's body image, acculturation, and drive for muscularity. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 16, 284-293.

Sandil, R., Robinson, M., Brewster, M.E., Geiger, E., & Wong, S. (2015). Negotiating Multiple Marginalizations: Experiences of South Asian LGBQ Individuals. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21, 76-88.

Jones, N., Brewster, M.E., & Jones, J. (2014). The creation and validation of the LGBT ally identity measure. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1, 181-195.

Brewster, M.E., Velez, B.L., Mennicke, A., & Tebbe, E. (2014). Voices from beyond: A thematic content analysis of transgender employees' workplace experiences. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1, 159-169.

Brewster, M.E., Robinson, M., Sandil, R. Esposito, J., & Geiger, E. (2014). Arrantly absent: Atheism in psychological science from 2001-2012. The Counseling Psychologist, 42, 628-663.

Brewster, M.E., Velez, B.L., Esposito, J., Wong, S., Geiger, L., & Keum, B. (2014). Moving beyond the binary with disordered eating research: A test and extension of objectification theory with bisexual women. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 61, 50-62.

Robinson, M. A., & Brewster, M. E. (2014). Motivations for fatherhood: Examining internalized heterosexism and gender-role conflict with childless gay and bisexual men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 15, 49-59.

Brewster, M.E., Moradi, B., DeBlaere, C., & Velez, B.L. (2013). Navigating the borderlands: Cognitive flexibility, bicultural self-efficacy, and minority stress in the lives of bisexual individuals. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60, 543-556.

Velez, B. L., Moradi, B., & Brewster, M.E. (2013). Testing the tenets of minority stress theory in workplace contexts. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60, 532-424.

DeBlaere, C., Brewster, M.E., Bertsch, K., DeCarlo, A., Kegel, K., & Presseau, C. (2013). The protective power of collective action for sexual minority women of color: An investigation of multiple discrimination experiences and psychological distress. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38, 20-32.

Moradi, B., Martin, A., & Brewster, M.E. (2012). Disarming the threat to feminist identification: An application of personal construct theory to measurement and intervention. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 36, 197-209.

Brewster, M.E., Velez, B.L., DeBlaere, C., & Moradi, B. (2012). Transgender individuals' workplace experiences: The applicability of sexual minority measures and models. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 59, 60-70.

Brewster, M.E., & Moradi, B. (2010). Perceived anti-bisexual prejudice experiences: Scale development and evaluation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57, 451-468.

Brewster, M.E., & Moradi, B. (2010). Personal, relational, and community aspects of bisexual identity in emerging, early, and middle adulthood. Journal of Bisexuality, 10, 1-25.

DeBlaere, C., Brewster, M.E., Sarkees, A., Moradi, B. (2010). Conducting research with LGB People of Color: Methodological challenges and strategies. The Counseling Psychologist, 38, 331-362.

Huang, Y. P., Brewster, M. E., Moradi, B., Goodman, M. B., Wiseman, M., & Mennicke, A. (2010). Content analysis of literature about LGB of Color: 1998-2007. The Counseling Psychologist, 38, 363-396.

Moradi, B., Wiseman, M., DeBlaere, C., Goodman, M., Sarkees, A., Brewster, M.E., & Huang, Y-P. (2010). LGB of Color and White individuals' perceptions of heterosexist stigma, internalized homophobia and outness: Comparisons of levels and links. The Counseling Psychologist, 38, 397-424.

biographical information

Melanie Brewster, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, earned her Ph.D from the University of Florida. Her research focuses on marginalized groups and examines how experiences of discrimination and stigma may shape the mental health of minority group members. Specifically, Dr. Brewster has focused on groups who occupy the "margins of marginalized populations" -- including bisexual individuals, queer people of color, transgender persons, and non-believing communities in the United States. Her first book, Atheists in America, was published June 2014 from Columbia University Press. She regularly tweets about sexuality, atheism, identity politics, and academia at @melysebrewster

honors and awards

2015    Provost Investment Grant                                                                                        $20,000

The Provost's Investment Fund provides seed grants to support faculty proposals for innovative projects that add value to Teachers College.  The present grant was awarded to support the further expansion and development of the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project (SWGP); specifically growing its focus on maternal mental health and women's issues.

2013    Dean's Fellowship Program for Teaching and Diversity                         $3200/semester

Co-awarded to Dr. Riddhi Sandil and, Ed.M student, Gaurav Jashnani to develop a new and innovative course called Patriarchy and Gender at Teachers College, Columbia University

2013    Dean's Grant for Pre-Tenured Faculty                                                                  $7750

Supports faculty research and scholarship by providing a Summer Research Development Award. This grant was awarded to conduct a quantitative study on the minority stress experienced by atheist people in the United States with members of my research team.

2012    Provost Investment Grant                                                                                        $20,000

The Provost's Investment Fund provides seed grants to support faculty proposals for innovative projects that add value to Teachers College.  The present grant was awarded to support the development of the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project (SWGP), created to envision and implement the next wave of theories and practices for LGBTQ people and women through degree concentrations, events, and colloquia. 

professional presentations

current projects

I am currently working on projects related to queer identities and related stressors, atheism and non-belief, and romantic relationships (e.g., distribution of chores, polyamory, attachment). 

I have a longstanding interest in topics related to objectification, internalized standards of beauty, and body image concerns for people of all genders. My work falls broadly under the "minority stress theory" umbrella. 

personal news

Yes! I will be accepting one doctoral student for Fall 2015. No need to email me to express your interest. I do not meet or take phone calls with prospective students prior to interview day, however,  I look forward to reviewing your applications. LGBTQ-identified applicants, please consider applying for this scholarship through TC. 

I look for students who are independent self-starters, highly interested in research, competent in basic statistics, critical thinkers, and very strong writers. Fluency in Project Runway analysis and other reality TV may be considered as well. 

Please check out my research team website and the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project website (co-founded by me and Drs. Sandil and Athan) for more information about current projects, student work, and social justice initiatives.

CCPJ 4064: Theories of Counseling

Approaches to counseling; theories and research findings; educational, vocational, and personal counseling; typical problems; illustrative cases.

CCPJ 5062: Career Counseling and Development

General concepts of career development and methods of assessment in career counseling. This course also highlights various issues related to the career development of diverse client populations in light of contemporary socio-political phenomena. Materials fee: $40.

CCPJ 5371: Foundations of counseling

Permission required. Limited enrollment. Prerequisite: For majors section, admission into the Ed.M. program in Psychological Counseling or Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology, CCPJ 4064 completed or taken concurrently; for non-majors section, CCPJ 4064 recommended but not required. A laboratory experience for counselors and others in the helping professions. Practice in clarifying, understanding, and responding to personal communications. Graduated exercises and videotapes are used to develop counseling and interviewing skills and desirable counselor attitudes. Special fee: $30.

CCPJ 5372: Foundations of counseling skills II

Permission required. Limited Enrollment. Continuing laboratory experience for helping professionals in further development of basic counseling skills with emphasis on increasing ones self-awareness and self-reflective ability. Practice and experience in attending, influencing and helping skills through in-class discussions, experiential activities, weekly journals, and counseling/clinical integration. Exploring assets and defenses that may facilitate or hinder therapeutic transactions.

CCPJ 8900: Dissertation Advisement

Individual advisement on doctoral dissertation. Fee to equal 3 points at current tuition rate for each term.

Documents & Papers

Atheists in America: Narratives from an Invisible Minority is a book that aspires to tell the stories of diverse individuals who identify as atheist in the increasingly conservative religious climate of the United States.

Download: Reposted Atheists in America Call for Submissions [PDF]

Centers and Projects

Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project

Founded in 2012, the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project (SWG) was created to envision and implement the next wave of theories and practices to improve well-being in persons at the intersection of the above identities and social locations. This forum is located at Teachers College, Columbia University, a world-renowned training ground for the next generation of educators, researchers, practitioners, administrators, and activists. SWG’s mission is to play a vital role in the creation of research initiatives, innovative curriculum, and institutional programming on campus and with partners beyond.

Melanie Elyse Brewster appeared in the following articles:

Diversity Hits the Books (6/3/2014)

2011 Year in Review (4/13/2012)

Working on the Margins of the Marginalized (12/20/2011)