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Dissertation Defense for LaTrice L. Dowtin

To:      Students, Faculty and Staff

From:  Gaurav Mathur, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School

Re:       Dissertation Defense for LaTrice L. Dowtin

It is my pleasure to announce that LaTrice L. Dowtin, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology, will defend her dissertation on “The therapeutic power of play: Play therapy training experiences of mental health professionals with deaf clients” on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. in College Hall, Room 215. The first forty minutes of the dissertation defense are open to the Gallaudet community.

Children of all walks of life may experience trauma, and/or socio-emotional challenges, and may display behavioral symptoms that lead their caregivers to seek mental health services. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children experience these difficulties at a disproportionately higher rate than the hearing population. While a practitioner should be available for every child who needs play therapy, there are not enough mental health professionals who are trained in both play therapy and working with deaf and hard-of-hearing clients. A considerable amount of research exists covering the efficacy of play therapy training models; however, research is not robust when looking at the best training methods applicable for practitioners who may encounter a d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing client. The purpose of the current qualitative study was to explore play therapy training, including supervision experiences of mental health professionals who have used play therapy with deaf and/or hard-of-hearing clients. Questions explored the lived experiences and perceptions of both pre-service and mental health professionals regarding their play therapy training experiences related to people who are d/Deaf, as well as what they perceived to be the effectiveness of their training.  Several salient themes emerged, including access to play therapy trainings and supervision, the value of kinesthetic practice, the importance of process-oriented supervision, depth provided by intensive workshops, and participants’ difficulties adapting child-centered play therapy for Deaf and hard-of-hearing clients.

The members of Ms. Dowtin’s dissertation committee are Dr. Lori Day, Department of Psychology, chair of the dissertation committee; Dr. Patrick Brice, Department of Psychology; Dr. Marilyn Sass-Lehrer, Department of Education (emerita); Dr. Beth Betman, Department of Social Work (retired); and Dr. Eliana Gil, Gil Institute.

Ms. Dowtin is a native of the DC/Maryland area who believes in the ongoing pursuit of cultural humility. She is a specialist-level nationally certified school psychologist who also holds a master's degree in psychology from Gallaudet University. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in development from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2010. In 2012, she graduated from the school psychology program at Bowie State University, a Historically Black College/University. Ms. Dowtin became the first school psychology graduate student to complete the optional master’s thesis project, for which she earned Outstanding Student Researcher and Outstanding Graduate Student awards. At that time, she focused her research on the underlying psychological influences of colorism on self-esteem and relational aggression among pre-adolescent Black girls. After graduating from Bowie State University, Ms. Dowtin entered the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Gallaudet University in Fall 2013 to further her understanding of and involvement with American Sign Language and the Deaf community. During her graduate career, Ms. Dowtin has held externship and employment positions at Children’s National Medical Center in the Child Development Clinic, the Lourie Center for Children’s Social and Emotional Wellness, and Kennedy Krieger Institute in the Behavior Management Clinic. She has served as center director of a preschool, early childhood mental health consultant, early childhood and family therapist, and adjunct faculty in an early childhood teacher education program all while working towards her Ph.D degree. She has presented at local and national conferences and is currently co-authoring the revision of an early childhood performance assessment specifically normed for d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing preschoolers (ages 2- to 6- years). Ms. Dowtin is experienced in assessing early childhood trauma, evaluating early parent-child relationships, infant assessment, and dyadic and family therapy for young children and their caregivers. She is also well-versed in several psychotherapies specific to young children and their caregivers (e.g., Child-Parent Psychotherapy, Filial Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, etc.). Additionally, she is a certified therapist in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). She also completed the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants, Toddlers and their Families (ITF): Collaboration and Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program at Gallaudet University in 2015. Ms. Dowtin now serves as an adjunct faculty member in this program while completing an APA-accredited internship at Tulane University with a focus on infant mental health. Ms. Dowtin aspires to focus future research and clinical practice on perinatal, infant, and preschool populations who have trauma exposure. 

Please join me in extending best wishes to Ms. Dowtin for her dissertation defense.

Posted by Elizabeth Gibbons | Posted January 5, 2018 at 1:08 PM


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800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002