Skip to main content

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


Pfefferbaum, Betty, Rose L. Pfefferbaum, Robin H. Gurwitch, Debby E. Doughty, Robert S. Pynoos, David W. Foy, Edward N. Brandt, and Chandrashekar Reddy. “Teachers' psychological reactions 7 weeks after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.” Am J Orthopsychiatry 74, no. 3 (July 2004): 263–71.

Full Text

Gurwitch, Robin H., Michelle Kees, Steven M. Becker, Merritt Schreiber, Betty Pfefferbaum, and Dickson Diamond. “When disaster strikes: responding to the needs of children.” Prehosp Disaster Med 19, no. 1 (January 2004): 21–28.

Full Text

Pfefferbaum, Rose L., Edward N. Brandt, Hemant P. Patel, Robin H. Gurwitch, Merritt D. Schreiber, and Betty Pfefferbaum. “Psychological issues associated with terrorism: a guide for physicians.” J Okla State Med Assoc 96, no. 11 (November 2003): 526–29.


Pfefferbaum, Betty, Rose L. Pfefferbaum, Robin H. Gurwitch, Sridevi Nagumalli, Edward N. Brandt, Madeline J. Robertson, Alexandra Aceska, and Vishal S. Saste. “Children's response to terrorism: a critical review of the literature.” Curr Psychiatry Rep 5, no. 2 (June 2003): 95–100.

Full Text

Pfefferbaum, Betty, Guy M. Sconzo, Brian W. Flynn, Lauri J. Kearns, Debby E. Doughty, Robin H. Gurwitch, Sara Jo Nixon, and Shajitha Nawaz. “Case finding and mental health services for children in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing.” J Behav Health Serv Res 30, no. 2 (April 2003): 215–27.

Full Text

Pfefferbaum, Betty, Carol S. North, Debby E. Doughty, Robin H. Gurwitch, Carol S. Fullerton, and Jane Kyula. “Posttraumatic stress and functional impairment in Kenyan children following the 1998 American Embassy bombing.” Am J Orthopsychiatry 73, no. 2 (April 2003): 133–40.

Full Text

Pfefferbaum, Betty, Debby E. Doughty, Chandrashekar Reddy, Nilam Patel, Robin H. Gurwitch, Sara Jo Nixon, and Rick D. Tivis. “Exposure and peritraumatic response as predictors of posttraumatic stress in children following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.” J Urban Health 79, no. 3 (September 2002): 354–63.

Full Text

Gurwitch, R. H., J. F. Silovsky, S. Schultz, M. Kees, and S. Burlingame. “Reactions and Guidelines for Children Following Trauma/Disaster.” Communication Disorders Quarterly 23, no. 2 (January 1, 2002): 93–99.

Full Text

Gurwitch, R. H., B. Pfefferbaum, and M. J. T. Leftwich. “The impact of terrorism on children: Considerations for a new era.” Journal of Trauma Practice 1, no. 3–4 (January 1, 2002): 101–24.

Full Text

Panchal, J., H. Amirsheybani, R. Gurwitch, V. Cook, P. Francel, B. Neas, and N. Levine. “Neurodevelopment in children with single-suture craniosynostosis and plagiocephaly without synostosis.” Plast Reconstr Surg 108, no. 6 (November 2001): 1492–98.

Full Text