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Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Child & Family Mental Health & Community Psychiatry

Dr. Robin Gurwitch, a faculty member in the Duke University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Child and Family Health, is a recognized expert in understanding and supporting children in the aftermath of trauma and disasters. She received her doctorate in Clinical/Medical Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, completed her internship in Pediatric Psychology at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago and completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Dr. Gurwitch has focused much of her clinical work, training and research on improving the outcomes and increasing resilience in children who have experienced trauma or crisis events, including terrorism, natural disasters and stressors related to military deployment. She has served on state and national committees and task forces including the National Commission on Children and Disasters Subcommittee on Human Services Recovery and served as a subject-matter expert in the area of at-risk populations for the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the National Bio-Defense Science Board for the Pediatric Preparedness and Response in Public Health Emergencies and Disasters for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (DHHS/ASPR). She is a member of the American Psychological Association’s Disaster Response Network and provides expertise on children and disasters/terrorism for the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

A prolific writer and educator, Dr. Gurwitch has co-authored book chapters, scientific journal articles and public education materials on the topics of trauma, resilience, psychological first aid, terrorism, disasters and preparedness. She authored a trauma treatment manual for use following disasters for children and adolescents. Dr. Gurwitch regularly presents on topics related to her specialty area at regional, national and international conferences. An active volunteer of the American Red Cross, she worked with the American Red Cross to develop materials related to terrorism and disaster for use in disaster mental health training courses and for use in schools.

A caring clinician, Dr. Gurwitch has been involved in direct care following national and international disasters.  She has been an active member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network since it began in 2001.  

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., University of Alabama Birmingham, 1988


Sitterle, K. A., and R. H. Gurwitch. “The terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City.” In When a Community Weeps: Case Studies in Group Survivorship, 161–90, 2013.

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Chaffin, Mark, Beverly Funderburk, David Bard, Linda Anne Valle, and Robin Gurwitch. “A combined motivation and parent-child interaction therapy package reduces child welfare recidivism in a randomized dismantling field trial.” J Consult Clin Psychol 79, no. 1 (February 2011): 84–95.

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Felix, E., E. M. Vernberg, R. L. Pfefferbaum, D. C. Gill, J. Schorr, A. Boudreaux, R. H. Gurwitch, S. Galea, and B. Pfefferbaum. “Schools in the shadow of terrorism: Psychosocial adjustment and interest in interventions following terror attacks.” Psychology in the Schools 47, no. 6 (July 1, 2010): 592–605.

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Chaffin, Mark, Linda Anne Valle, Beverly Funderburk, Robin Gurwitch, Jane Silovsky, David Bard, Carol McCoy, and Michelle Kees. “A motivational intervention can improve retention in PCIT for low-motivation child welfare clients.” Child Maltreat 14, no. 4 (November 2009): 356–68.

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Schonfeld, D. J., and R. H. Gurwitch. “Addressing Disaster Mental Health Needs of Children: Practical Guidance for Pediatric Emergency Health Care Providers.” Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine 10, no. 3 (September 1, 2009): 208–15.

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Schonfeld, David J., and Robin Gurwitch. “Effect of parents' deployment on young children: findings that are long overdue.” Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 162, no. 11 (November 2008): 1094–95.

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Pfefferbaum, Betty, Carol S. North, Debby E. Doughty, Rose L. Pfefferbaum, Cedric E. Dumont, Robert S. Pynoos, Robin H. Gurwitch, and David Ndetei. “Trauma, grief and depression in Nairobi children after the 1998 bombing of the American Embassy.” Death Stud 30, no. 6 (July 2006): 561–77.

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Kordestani, Rouzbeh K., Shaurin Patel, David E. Bard, Robin Gurwitch, and Jayesh Panchal. “Neurodevelopmental delays in children with deformational plagiocephaly.” Plast Reconstr Surg 117, no. 1 (January 2006): 207–18.

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McNeil, C. B., A. D. Herschell, R. H. Gurwitch, and L. Clemens-Mowrer. “Training foster parents in parent-child interaction therapy.” Education and Treatment of Children 28, no. 2 (December 1, 2005): 182–96.


Pfefferbaum, Rose L., Gerry Fairbrother, Edward N. Brandt, Madeline J. Robertson, Robin H. Gurwitch, Jennifer Stuber, and Betty Pfefferbaum. “Teachers in the aftermath of terrorism: a case study of one New York City school.” Fam Community Health 27, no. 3 (July 2004): 250–59.

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