Congratulations to Melody Schaff and Goldie VanHeel, who have been awarded a $10, 000 grant from the American Psychological Foundation to conduct their dissertation research.  Their tandem research projects, “How Women with Visible and Invisible Disabilities Manage Microaggressions, Stigma, and Multiple Identities,” will be conducted under the auspices of Institute on Disability and Health Psychology and supervised by Dr. Rhoda Olkin, Director of the Institute and a Distinguished Professor and CSPP core faculty member in the San Francisco Clinical PsyD program.  Melody Schaff and Goldie VanHeel are students in the CSPP San Francisco PsyD program.

The $10,000 in funding from the Pearsall Scholarship is awarded to support graduate work aimed at increasing the public’s understanding of the psychological pain and stigma experienced by adults who live with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy.

These dissertations will examine the frequency and extent of microaggressions experienced by people with physical or visual impairments and elucidate the attributions women use when they are members of multiple oppressed groups and experience microaggressions based on one or more of their identities.  Funding comes from the Scott and Paul Pearsall Scholarship, which supports graduate work aimed at improving public understanding of the psychological distress and stigma experienced by adults with physical disabilities.

Melody Schaff is a first year student in the CSPP San Francisco Clinical Psychology PsyD program. Melody has a BA from UCLA and is currently a practicum trainee at Through the Looking Glass in Berkeley, CA, where she works with families with disabilities. She is also working under Dr. Pearl Werfel and Dr. Rhoda Olkin, as a research assistant on a project entitled “Stress and Pain Management for People Who are Living with Multiple Sclerosis.” Because she is living with multiple sclerosis herself, she brings a first hand point of view to disability research. In addition to disabilities, her primary research interests are health psychology, spirituality, and stress management.

Goldie VanHeel is a third year student on the Social Justice Track in the CSPP San Francisco Clinical Psychology PsyD program and is also a member of the Rockway Queer Alliance. While earning her PsyD in clinical psychology she is also earning the LGBT Human Services and Mental Health Certificate through Rockway Institute. Goldie is currently in practicum at Conard House serving the severely mentally ill with dual diagnosis and substance abuse. This has ignited her passion for community mental health care and has furthered her interest in disability research. Goldie’s current interest in disability research and the intersectionality of sexual orientation and disability comes from her own experience of being a lesbian who has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for the last 12 years.