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Professor Christine Yeh

"It's been really incredible finding a group of people with similar research interests," says Professor Christine Yeh when she reflects upon the positive experiences she has had during her eight years at Teachers College. An Associate Professor of Psychology and Education in the Counseling Psychology Program, Dr. Yeh is particularly interested in cross-cultural issues in the field, and finds both the College and its New York City surroundings to be ideal for her scholarly pursuits.

"It's been really incredible finding a group of people with similar research interests," says Professor Christine Yeh when she reflects upon the positive experiences she has had during her eight years at Teachers College.  An Associate Professor of Psychology and Education in the Counseling Psychology Program, Dr. Yeh is particularly interested in cross-cultural issues in the field, and finds both the College and its New York City surroundings to be ideal for her scholarly pursuits.

Her educational background laid an excellent foundation for her role in the academy.  She completed her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College where she majored in psychology with a minor in education, and then earned her Master's degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University.  Professor Yeh says that it was during her Ph.D. studies at Stanford University that she became interested in cross-cultural research.  Her research there also reflected her interdisciplinary interests in education, social psychology, and anthropology.  "I worked with faculty across departments to understand how identities shift and change across multiple contexts," she says.  After completing a required one-year internship at Berkeley University where she counseled international and recently immigrated students, Dr. Yeh returned to Stanford as a Postdoctoral Fellow at its Center on Adolescence.  The Center approached its research from multiple interdisciplinary perspectives and this, she says, "helped me to think about issues more broadly."

Her decision to come to TC was based upon a number of factors, all of which made the opportunity well worth pursuing.  Professor Yeh cites her Program's "very strong multi-cultural focus" and "commitment to creating an equitable environment for children and youth" as primary reasons that she relocated from the west coast to the east.  She also knew that New York would be ideal for her work with immigrant populations, and she has been able to do this through implementing her Cross-Cultural Research Group at the College.  A continuation of project work in which she was engaged while at Stanford, Dr. Yeh explains that CCRG was "created to provide training in cross-cultural research methods," and therefore incorporates a "strong didactic" component.  Her research team, which includes graduate students, examines concepts such as the relevancy of psychological terms across cultures and the effects of translation on data collection processes across culturally diverse groups. 

CCRG has launched several projects focusing on Asian American ethnic identity and cultural conceptions of self, and is currently studying immigrant youth.  Dr. Yeh is the recipient of a five-year grant from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) that is underwriting a study on Asian immigrant students at a school in Chinatown.  Now in its second year, the research has shown that factors such as high poverty and language barriers result in a large percentage of these students dropping out of school despite the stereotype of Asians as the "model minority."  Based upon what she describes as an ecological system theory, Dr. Yeh's group is looking at the multiple levels at which youth interact and the multiple contexts within which they are influenced rather than assuming that their behavior is endemic to their personalities.  The team is collecting data from community-based organizations, students, and their parents with whom they have met during focus group sessions and hope to visit at their workplaces.  It is implementing what it hopes will become a model program at the school to help these youth make the transition to living in the States.  For example, says Dr. Yeh, "You'd be surprised that we have a school where 85 to 95 percent of the students have names the teachers can't pronounce." CCRG began a brown bag lunch series to address this challenge, and has witnessed "great turnout" primarily through word of mouth.  The school's faculty came to realize that it already possessed the resources necessary to do this since some teachers are natives of mainland China and are fluent in the students' languages.  The research group has also worked to make certain that orientation materials that were once only in English are appropriately translated as a way of "getting [students and their families] to understand they're welcome."

In addition to this project, Professor Yeh's group recently completed a study sponsored by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation on how Asian American families that suffered loss during 9/11 coped with their grief.  "None of the people we interviewed felt the mental health services [offered by the government] were culturally relevant," she expresses.  To cope with their grief, many relied upon indigenous health practices like folk healers and acupuncture.  This, she says, unveils the questions of how best to make mental health inclusive and how to change crisis intervention strategies.  CCRG has developed two scales for its work--an Attitudes Towards Indigenous Healing Scale that assesses attitudes towards using these types of indigenous practices, and a Collectivist Coping Scale that examines coping with mental health issues from diverse cultural perspectives.  Two team members are also now investigating how Asian American students make decisions about their careers, culturally a familial decision that has different implications in a U.S. society where the individual chooses a career himself.  Many of CCRG's findings have been disseminated in journals as well as in presentations such as at the American Psychological Association and Asian American Psychological Association conferences.

While her appointment is in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Professor Yeh's courses have included a class in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies on working with immigrant youth in schools.  She will teach "Racial and Cultural Counseling Laboratory" in Spring 2005 that she says aims to help people to "be aware of their own cultural backgrounds" and is "about educating people about their own biases."  New York City, she believes, facilitates these kinds of conversations and the chance to apply related research.  "It's been so rewarding to be able to walk out the door and work directly with the communities that I teach about, such as high school students.  When meeting with graduate students and working on the computer, it's easy to get removed from these populations, but in New York City, it's so accessible."  In a setting that affords her the opportunity for in-depth study on life-altering research that might not otherwise be undertaken, Professor Yeh recognizes that she can contribute greatly to a community that commonly finds itself underserved in the traditional sense of mental health, and she strives to equip others to realize the importance of doing the same.  
  

Published Monday, Oct. 18, 2004

Professor Christine Yeh

"It's been really incredible finding a group of people with similar research interests," says Professor Christine Yeh when she reflects upon the positive experiences she has had during her eight years at Teachers College.  An Associate Professor of Psychology and Education in the Counseling Psychology Program, Dr. Yeh is particularly interested in cross-cultural issues in the field, and finds both the College and its New York City surroundings to be ideal for her scholarly pursuits.

Her educational background laid an excellent foundation for her role in the academy.  She completed her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College where she majored in psychology with a minor in education, and then earned her Master's degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University.  Professor Yeh says that it was during her Ph.D. studies at Stanford University that she became interested in cross-cultural research.  Her research there also reflected her interdisciplinary interests in education, social psychology, and anthropology.  "I worked with faculty across departments to understand how identities shift and change across multiple contexts," she says.  After completing a required one-year internship at Berkeley University where she counseled international and recently immigrated students, Dr. Yeh returned to Stanford as a Postdoctoral Fellow at its Center on Adolescence.  The Center approached its research from multiple interdisciplinary perspectives and this, she says, "helped me to think about issues more broadly."

Her decision to come to TC was based upon a number of factors, all of which made the opportunity well worth pursuing.  Professor Yeh cites her Program's "very strong multi-cultural focus" and "commitment to creating an equitable environment for children and youth" as primary reasons that she relocated from the west coast to the east.  She also knew that New York would be ideal for her work with immigrant populations, and she has been able to do this through implementing her Cross-Cultural Research Group at the College.  A continuation of project work in which she was engaged while at Stanford, Dr. Yeh explains that CCRG was "created to provide training in cross-cultural research methods," and therefore incorporates a "strong didactic" component.  Her research team, which includes graduate students, examines concepts such as the relevancy of psychological terms across cultures and the effects of translation on data collection processes across culturally diverse groups. 

CCRG has launched several projects focusing on Asian American ethnic identity and cultural conceptions of self, and is currently studying immigrant youth.  Dr. Yeh is the recipient of a five-year grant from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) that is underwriting a study on Asian immigrant students at a school in Chinatown.  Now in its second year, the research has shown that factors such as high poverty and language barriers result in a large percentage of these students dropping out of school despite the stereotype of Asians as the "model minority."  Based upon what she describes as an ecological system theory, Dr. Yeh's group is looking at the multiple levels at which youth interact and the multiple contexts within which they are influenced rather than assuming that their behavior is endemic to their personalities.  The team is collecting data from community-based organizations, students, and their parents with whom they have met during focus group sessions and hope to visit at their workplaces.  It is implementing what it hopes will become a model program at the school to help these youth make the transition to living in the States.  For example, says Dr. Yeh, "You'd be surprised that we have a school where 85 to 95 percent of the students have names the teachers can't pronounce." CCRG began a brown bag lunch series to address this challenge, and has witnessed "great turnout" primarily through word of mouth.  The school's faculty came to realize that it already possessed the resources necessary to do this since some teachers are natives of mainland China and are fluent in the students' languages.  The research group has also worked to make certain that orientation materials that were once only in English are appropriately translated as a way of "getting [students and their families] to understand they're welcome."

In addition to this project, Professor Yeh's group recently completed a study sponsored by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation on how Asian American families that suffered loss during 9/11 coped with their grief.  "None of the people we interviewed felt the mental health services [offered by the government] were culturally relevant," she expresses.  To cope with their grief, many relied upon indigenous health practices like folk healers and acupuncture.  This, she says, unveils the questions of how best to make mental health inclusive and how to change crisis intervention strategies.  CCRG has developed two scales for its work--an Attitudes Towards Indigenous Healing Scale that assesses attitudes towards using these types of indigenous practices, and a Collectivist Coping Scale that examines coping with mental health issues from diverse cultural perspectives.  Two team members are also now investigating how Asian American students make decisions about their careers, culturally a familial decision that has different implications in a U.S. society where the individual chooses a career himself.  Many of CCRG's findings have been disseminated in journals as well as in presentations such as at the American Psychological Association and Asian American Psychological Association conferences.

While her appointment is in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Professor Yeh's courses have included a class in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies on working with immigrant youth in schools.  She will teach "Racial and Cultural Counseling Laboratory" in Spring 2005 that she says aims to help people to "be aware of their own cultural backgrounds" and is "about educating people about their own biases."  New York City, she believes, facilitates these kinds of conversations and the chance to apply related research.  "It's been so rewarding to be able to walk out the door and work directly with the communities that I teach about, such as high school students.  When meeting with graduate students and working on the computer, it's easy to get removed from these populations, but in New York City, it's so accessible."  In a setting that affords her the opportunity for in-depth study on life-altering research that might not otherwise be undertaken, Professor Yeh recognizes that she can contribute greatly to a community that commonly finds itself underserved in the traditional sense of mental health, and she strives to equip others to realize the importance of doing the same.  
  

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