Dr. Wilson is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise on the effects of trauma across the lifespan. She provides clinical services for children, adolescents, adults, and families affected by trauma and other forms of anxiety and stress. Dr. Wilson also leads an active research program focused on relationships between childhood trauma and health risk behavior in adolescence and adulthood. She is the Principal Investigator of GIRLTALK: We Talk, a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) that examines links from childhood violence exposure to dating violence and sexual risk in young women from low-income communities in Chicago. Dr. Wilson has authored or co-authored thirty journal articles and book chapters related to these topics, and she regularly presents her work at local and national conferences. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
- life stress
Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Director, Stanford Confidential Support Team (2016 - Present)
PhD Training: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (2005) IL
Fellowship: Yale University Child Study Center (2006) CT
Victimization and traumatic stress: Pathways to depressive symptoms among low-income, African-American girls.
Child abuse & neglect
2018; 86: 223–34
Socioeconomic disadvantage is associated with increased exposure to victimization and traumatic stress. The present study evaluates longitudinal pathways linking victimization and trauma to depressive symptoms in a socioeconomically disadvantaged sample of African-American adolescent girls seeking mental health services (N = 177, 12-16 years old at baseline). Girls completed four assessments over the course of three years (T1-T4). Depressive symptoms were assessed at T1-T3 using clinical interviews and questionnaires. At T4, lifetime history of victimization and traumatic stressors was evaluated with in-person interviews. Separate structural equation models tested longitudinal pathways from stressor frequency, severity, and duration to depressive symptoms. In all three models, higher levels of victimization and traumatic stressors were associated with significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms. More frequent stressors prior to T1 directly predicted depressive symptoms at T1 and indirectly predicted depressive symptoms at T2, which, in turn, predicted depressive symptoms at T3. A similar pattern emerged in the stressor severity and duration models. Findings support the idea that victimization and traumatic stressors are associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms and that, among treatment-seeking low-income adolescent girls, these effects occur through both direct and indirect paths. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of the stress-generation and stress proliferation models of psychopathology.
View details for PubMedID 30359822
- Development of Sexual Risk in Minority Youth: Risk and Protective Factors in Early Adolescence JOURNAL OF EARLY ADOLESCENCE 2018; 38 (1): 5–11
Recognizing and Referring Children with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Guidelines for Pediatric Providers.
Pediatrics in review
2018; 39 (2): 68–77
View details for PubMedID 29437126
Trajectories of psychopathology and risky behaviors associated with childhood abuse and neglect in low-income urban African American girls
CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT
2015; 45: 108-121
The current study examined patterns of psychopathology, drug and alcohol use, and sexual behavior associated with childhood abuse and neglect in a high-risk sample of low-income African American girls seeking mental health treatment. Participants (N=177) were African American girls recruited from mental health clinics serving low-income communities in Chicago, IL and followed over six waves of data collection (T1-T6) reflecting early (mean age 14) to late (mean age 17) adolescence. Child abuse and neglect history was determined from adolescent and caregiver reports. Latent curve modeling examined patterns of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology, drug and alcohol use, sexual experience, and risky sexual behavior reported by girls and associations with reported child abuse and neglect. Overall, these trajectories indicated a decrease in internalizing and externalizing symptoms, stability of drug and alcohol use, and an increase in sexual experience and risky sexual behaviors over time. Child abuse and neglect was associated with increased internalizing symptoms and sexual experience at baseline and with externalizing symptoms and risky sexual behavior both at baseline and the final point. Child abuse and neglect was not significantly associated with alcohol or drug use. This study adds to the literature on the long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect by demonstrating patterns of psychopathology and risky behavior that persist over time in a high-risk group of girls with self or parent reported histories of abuse and neglect. Interventions that address externalizing problems and health risk behaviors may be of particular importance for this population.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.02.009
View details for Web of Science ID 000356907500011
View details for PubMedID 25869184
Externalizing Symptoms Moderate Associations Among Interpersonal Skills, Parenting, and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescents Seeking Mental Health Treatment
JOURNAL OF YOUTH AND ADOLESCENCE
2015; 44 (4): 952-963
Adolescents' interpersonal skills are associated with fewer teen depressive symptoms and more positive parenting, but little is known about how teens' externalizing problems moderate these relationships. This study examines links among teens' interpersonal skills, parenting, and withdrawn-depressed symptoms in adolescents seeking outpatient psychiatric treatment with elevated or non-elevated externalizing problems. Adolescents (N = 346; 42 % female; 61 % African-American) ages 12-19 years old (M = 14.9; SD = 1.8) and parents completed assessments at baseline and 6 months. At baseline parents and teens reported on teen withdrawn-depressed and externalizing symptoms, and were observed interacting to assess teen interpersonal skills. At 6 months adolescents reported on parenting, and parents and teens reported on teen withdrawn-depressed symptoms. Structural equation modeling tested two models (one with teen reported symptoms and one with parent reported symptoms). Model fit was better for youth with elevated externalizing problems regardless of reporter. For youth with elevated externalizing problems, baseline teen positive interpersonal skills were not directly associated with 6-month withdrawn-depressed symptoms, but more positive parenting was associated with fewer withdrawn-depressed symptoms. In the teen report model, more positive teen interpersonal skills were associated with more positive parenting, and there was a trend for parenting to indirectly account for the relationship between interpersonal skills and withdrawn-depressed symptoms. The findings extend research on the role of externalizing problems in teens' depression risk. Interventions for depression that target interpersonal skills may be particularly effective in youth with elevated externalizing problems.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s10964-015-0263-7
View details for Web of Science ID 000351295400013
View details for PubMedID 25698655
From Violence Exposure to Development of Sexual Risk in Low-Income Urban Girls: The Role of Psychopathology
CHILD PSYCHIATRY & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
2015; 46 (2): 270-280
This longitudinal study examined psychopathology as an explanatory mechanism linking childhood violence exposure (CVE) to sexual risk in 177 African American girls recruited from mental health clinics serving low-income communities in Chicago. Beginning at average age 14, girls completed five interviews over 2 years and a sixth assessment including trauma history. CVE reflected sexual, physical, or witnessed violence before age 12. Latent growth modeling accounted for developmental change across the six time points. Externalizing, but not internalizing, symptoms mediated the pathway from CVE to number of partners (indirect effect = .16, 95 % CIBCBS = .04-.29) and inconsistent condom use (indirect effect = .11, CIBCBS = .004-.21). Externalizing problems associated with CVE may help to explain its relationship with sexual risk in low-income, treatment-seeking African American girls. Behavioral interventions addressing aggression, impulsivity, and general risk-taking may be most effective in reducing sexual risk in this population.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s10578-014-0466-2
View details for Web of Science ID 000351287100010
View details for PubMedID 24801477
- Childhood violence exposure and the development of sexual risk in low-income African American girls JOURNAL OF BEHAVIORAL MEDICINE 2014; 37 (6): 1091-1101
Childhood violence exposure and the development of sexual risk in low-income African American girls.
Journal of behavioral medicine
2014; 37 (6): 1091-1101
Low-income, urban African American (AA) girls are at heightened risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and violence exposure may be an important risk factor. AA girls (N = 177) from low-income communities in Chicago completed a 2-year longitudinal study of HIV-risk behavior involving five waves of data collection (ages 12-16 at baseline) and a sixth wave (ages 14-22) assessing lifetime trauma and victimization history. Childhood exposure to violence (CEV) represented reports of physical, sexual, or witnessed violence before age 12. Latent growth curve analysis examined CEV as a covariate of sexual experience, number of sexual partners, and inconsistent condom use trajectories. CEV was associated with greater sexual risk, although the pattern differed across the three outcomes. Overall, findings emphasize the need for early interventions to reduce sexual risk among low-income urban girls who have experienced violence. Efforts to address or prevent violence exposure may also reduce rates of STIs in this population.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s10865-014-9560-y
View details for PubMedID 24557448
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4177032
- Family environment, coping, and mental health in adolescents attending therapeutic day schools JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENCE 2014; 37 (7): 1133-1142
Family environment, coping, and mental health in adolescents attending therapeutic day schools.
Journal of adolescence
2014; 37 (7): 1133–42
This study examined associations among family environment, coping, and emotional and conduct problems in adolescents attending therapeutic day schools due to mental health problems.Adolescents (N = 417; 30.2% female) ages 13-20 (M = 15.25) reported on their family environment (affective involvement and functioning), coping (emotion-focused support-seeking, cognitive restructuring, avoidant actions), and emotional and conduct problems.Poorer family environment was associated with less emotion-focused support-seeking and cognitive restructuring, and more emotional and conduct problems. Emotional problems were negatively associated with cognitive restructuring, and conduct problems were negatively associated with all coping strategies. Cognitive restructuring accounted for the relationship between family environment and emotional problems. Cognitive restructuring and emotion-focused support-seeking each partially accounted for the relationship between family functioning and conduct problems, but not the relationship between family affective involvement and conduct problems.Findings implicate the role of coping in the relationship between family environment and adolescent mental health.
View details for PubMedID 25151645
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4335706
The Relationship Between Substance Use and Sexual Health Among African-American Female Adolescents with a History of Seeking Mental Health Services
WOMENS HEALTH ISSUES
2013; 23 (6): E365-E371
This study examined relationships between substance use patterns and problems and sexual health outcomes among low-income, urban, African-American female adolescents with a history of seeking mental health services.Participants were recruited from outpatient mental health clinics serving urban, primarily low-income youth and families in Chicago, Illinois, as part of a 2-year, longitudinal investigation of HIV risk behavior during which they completed interviews every 6 months (five time points). Girls who completed at least one follow-up interview were invited to participate in a sixth wave of assessment to assess trauma exposure, substance use problems, and sexual risk. The current study (n = 177) examined the association between sexual risk behavior and substance use problems reported at the most recent interview (ages 14-22) and substance use patterns and sexually transmitted infections (STI) reported at all six times points. Multiple regression examined the combined and unique effects of different patterns of substance use and substance use problems as correlates of sexual risk behavior and STIs.Substance use problems were associated with increased sexual risk behavior and increased likelihood of experiencing STIs. Substance use patterns were associated with sexual risk behavior.Results suggest that specific patterns of substance use and substance use problems are important to address in sexual health promotion among low-income, urban, African-American girls with a history of seeking mental health services. Understanding the nuances of these relationships is important in informing how to best serve this vulnerable group of adolescents who experience significant sexual risk and mental health care disparities.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.whi.2013.08.004
View details for Web of Science ID 000341110100007
View details for PubMedID 24183411
Dyadic Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Family Responsibility Questionnaire
JOURNAL OF PEDIATRIC PSYCHOLOGY
2013; 38 (8): 871-882
OBJECTIVES: Evaluate the factor structure of youth and maternal involvement ratings on the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Family Responsibility Questionnaire, a measure of family allocation of condition management responsibilities in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease. METHODS: Participants included 251 youth aged 11-18 years with inflammatory bowel disease and their mothers. Item-level descriptive analyses, subscale internal consistency estimates, and confirmatory factor analyses of youth and maternal involvement were conducted using a dyadic data-analytic approach. RESULTS: Results supported the validity of 4 conceptually derived subscales including general health maintenance, social aspects, condition management tasks, and nutrition domains. Additionally, results indicated adequate support for the factor structure of a 21-item youth involvement measure and strong support for a 16-item maternal involvement measure. CONCLUSIONS: Additional empirical support for the validity of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Family Responsibility Questionnaire was provided. Future research to replicate current findings and to examine the measure's clinical utility is warranted.
View details for DOI 10.1093/jpepsy.jsto30
View details for Web of Science ID 000323629800005
View details for PubMedID 23667243
History of Sexual Abuse and Development of Sexual Risk Behavior in Low-Income, Urban African American Girls Seeking Mental Health Treatment
WOMEN & HEALTH
2013; 53 (4): 384-404
This study examined relationships between sexual abuse and patterns of sexual risk-taking among low-income, urban African American adolescent girls seeking mental health treatment.Participants (N = 158) were 12- to 16-year-old African American girls recruited from outpatient mental health clinics serving urban, mostly low-socioeconomic status communities in Chicago, Illinois and followed for two years between 2003 and 2010. This study included self-reports of sexual abuse and four waves (T2-T5) of self-reported data on sexual experience and sexual risk-taking (number of partners, inconsistent condom use, and sex with a risky partner). Latent curve modeling was used to examine patterns of sexual behavior over the four time points with sexual abuse and mental health symptoms as covariates.Sexual abuse was significantly associated with T2 sexual experience, T2-T4 number of partners, T3 inconsistent condom use, and T2-T3 having a risky partner. These relationships decreased when mental health symptoms were controlled.This longitudinal study revealed a complex relationship between sexual abuse and sexual risk that would be missed if sexual risk were assessed at a single time point. Findings supported early intervention to delay onset of sexual risk behavior among low-income African American girls with mental health concerns and histories of sexual abuse.
View details for DOI 10.1080/03630242.2013.790337
View details for Web of Science ID 000320099100004
View details for PubMedID 23751092