Laura Dosanjh is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work and a recipient of the Michael R. Daley Endowed Presidential Scholarship for Doctoral Students. Laura received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia, a Masters of Arts in Expressive Arts Therapy, minor Psychology from the European Graduate School, and a graduate diploma in art therapy from the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute. During her master’s degree, Laura focused her work on the relationship between neuroscience and art therapy through the concept of affect regulation.
Laura has eight years of clinical experience working on the front lines with adult clients experiencing complex concurrent disorders (including mental health diagnosis, substance use disorders, cognitive impairments, and trauma). Her clinical roles in regional and provincial health authorities in Vancouver, British Columbia brought close collaboration with multidisciplinary medical and allied healthcare teams. Her experience includes delivering group and one-to-one clinical interventions to clients, contributing to clinical program development, chairing a multi-site community of practice group, and leading clinical practice in the agency’s present focused trauma program. Laura also supervised master’s students’ field placements. Her area of expertise is in the present focused treatment of co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders, and she is trained in Seeking Safety as a fidelity rater and supervisor. Her recent accomplishments include the development of a Seeking Safety art therapy addendum curriculum to fill in the gaps for clients experiencing PTSD/SUD and multiple other co-morbidities. In 2015 she was awarded a research grant from the Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Woodward Foundation to conduct a feasibility pilot study examining this art enhanced Seeking Safety curriculum. She was the principal investigator of this study.
During the years working with clients experiencing concurrent severe mental health diagnosis, substance use disorders, and history of trauma, Laura had the privilege of hearing hundreds of clients tell their stories. Almost all of these stories include histories of childhood trauma and/or severe neglect along with other vulnerability factors such as substance use in the home or incarceration of a parent. These experiences inspired Laura to shift the focus of her career towards research, prevention, community interventions, and support for families. Her research interests are focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences, toxic stress, and the physiological consequences of trauma. She is currently collaborating on research focusing on children and families at the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing (with professors Tina Adkins and Beth Gerlach) and the Thriving Together research project with professor Esther Calzada. She plans to continue building knowledge in the field of social work through research in ACES, the neurobiology of trauma, and factors that protect against the effects of toxic stress. Her commitment is to focus her life’s work on these problems in order to support better emotional and mental health outcomes for all people.
Neurobiology of trauma, adverse childhood events, protective factors for families and children to reduce the effects of toxic stress.