Q&A with Stephanie Hargrove: Helping Patients Heal after Trauma

By Morag MacLachlan

1. Can you explain your role at Duke?

As a clinical associate, I do research and clinical work. My current clinical focus is on treating adolescents at the Duke Child and Family Study Center. In general, I work with adults and adolescents with mood, anxiety and personality disorders and specialize in treating the impact of trauma.

My current research is focused on trauma-informed teaching and learning in education. This is a Bass Connections project at Duke, which allows undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to collaborate on a research project to address a social issue. We are studying trauma-informed practices in the undergraduate college, the divinity school and the medical school at Duke.

The trauma-informed movement has made strides in certain settings such as in elementary school education, but less so in higher education settings. We are looking to answer questions including:

  • ​How is trauma approached in the classroom?
  • Is content presented in a trauma-informed way?
  • Do students feel safe in their learning environment?
  • What accommodations are in place for trauma survivors?

We are conducting focus groups with students and faculty. We hope to present our data to university stakeholders and develop best practices. We're starting at Duke but hope our research will be applicable to other university settings as well.

2. What inspired you to choose this career path?

Clinical psychology has been an interest of mine since a young age. I am curious about human behavior and the strategies that could be used to improve people's lives. I want to be a part of the solution.

Growing up and through my time in college, I met so many young women from marginalized communities who experienced gender-based violence and never got the help or justice they deserved. That was the catalyst for my work. My dissertation was about understanding survivor-centered definitions of wellness after experiencing gender-based violence to inform intervention strategies that have historically missed the mark for marginalized groups, particularly Black women.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your job?

It is fulfilling for me to help people navigate their healing journey through trauma treatment. It is rewarding to witness a person move from suffering toward healing and begin to thrive.

4. You recently received the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award. What was your reaction and how do you hope this award will help forward your career?

I was thrilled when I found out I was receiving this award. The ISTSS's protocols have been guideposts for me as a researcher and a clinician. This award allows me to access workshops, materials and mentors to support me as an early career scholar. I believe this experience will help me develop the expertise needed to achieve my long-term career goals. To have this society recognize what I've achieved so far and see potential in me is a real honor.

5. When you are not at work, how do you unwind?

I love to explore places I've never been to. If it's a substantial time away from work, then I want to travel internationally and learn about the language and culture of a place. If I only have an afternoon or a weekend free, then you can find me exploring new places with friends.

This article was originally published on Inside Duke Health.