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Marriage & Family Therapy PhD Program
 Erika Grafsky
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Erika was raised outside a small town in rural southern Ohio.  Early on, Erika was active in the local 4-H program and involved in various extra-curricular functions.  Her interest in youth development, nurtured by her involvement in 4-H and junior leadership activities, translated into her desire to pursue her bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University in Human Development and Family Science.  During her undergraduate studies, her love of learning was solidified and she knew she intended to pursue a doctorate in order to be actively involved in social change on multiple-systemic levels.  She decided to pursue her master’s degree in Family Studies in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.   Erika returned to Ohio State to pursue her PhD.  During her doctoral program, she received the 2010 National Council on Family Relations Student Award.  She obtained licensure in Ohio as a Marriage and Family Therapist that same year.  As her research suggests, her identity as an Ally to the LGBT-community is very important to her.  Erika lives in Blacksburg with her husband, three boys, two dogs, and a cat.

Research Interests

Erika's research focuses on the psychosocial health and well-being of sexual minority youth and their families.  She was awarded a dissertation grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to study sexual minority youths’ experiences disclosing their sexual orientation to family members and how adolescent substance use may intersect with this process.  Erika primarily uses qualitative and mixed research methods and is particularly interested in mixed-methodology research design and intervention development.  Her current research plan includes a series of projects to collect pertinent data to inform the development of a web-based intervention to help youth make safe and successful sexual orientation disclosure decisions.  Erika also hopes to identify ways to foster resilience and positive youth development in sexual minority youth and their families, schools, and communities.
erika presenting at ncfr
Erika presenting at NCFR

Publications and Grants
Erika won a $54,000 NIDA dissertation grant, and has authored or coauthored over 20 articles, book chapters, and other professional publications.

Clinical Work
Erika’s clinical training at the University of Kentucky provided her with the opportunity to serve as a family therapist for an elementary and middle school, see clients who were also seeking services as part of the Ryan White program for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS, work with staff referred through the University Employee Assistance Program, and see individuals, couples and families seeking services on their own from the on-campus, community clinic.  These experiences provided her with a foundation of clinical experience with a wide range of client systems.  During her master’s training, Erika was exposed with a variety of clinical models from which to work.  During her clinical training in her doctoral program, Erika had the opportunity to solidify her personal theory of therapy.  Erika’s approach is rooted in experiential family therapy, informed by attachment theory, emotion-focused therapy, and interpersonal process.  Erika obtained clinical licensure in the state of Ohio as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2010, is working towards independent licensure, and is an AAMFT supervisor-in-training.  Erika has engaged in numerous continuing education opportunities related to working with LGBT clients and considers herself an affirmative therapist.

Student Research Teams & Mentoring
Erika’s research team is the primary way she mentors students.  Her team is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students from Human Development and other departments across campus.

The team is working on three projects related broadly to the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth and their families.  The first project involves interviews with LGBQ+ youth and parents of LGBQ+ youth, exploring the disclosure to family experience and process.  The second project involves interviews with siblings and extended family members of LGBQ+ youth, exploring the experience of having an LGBQ+ youth disclose in their family.  The third project involves a community-based participatory approach to develop an evidence-based online intervention program to help youth make safe and successful disclosure decisions to their family.  Students are actively involved in all aspects of the research process for these projects.

Other Professional Activities
Erika is a pre-clinical fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is involved in the Queer Affirmative Caucus.  She is also a member of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and co-chair of the NCFR LGBT-Straight Alliance focus group.  At the university level, she is a Diversity Ally, serves on the CLAHS Diversity Committee, and is on the board of the CLAHS Undergraduate Research Institute.

Recent Publications
Grafsky, E. L. (2014). Becoming the parent of a GLB son or daughter. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 10, 36-57.

Serovich, J. M., Grafsky, E. L., & Gangamma, R. (2012). Research on reorientation therapy. In J. J. Bigner & J.
      L.Wetchler (Eds.), Handbook of LGBT‐Affirmative Couple and Family Therapy. New York: Routledge.

Hartwell, E., Serovich, J. M., Grafsky, E. L., & Kerr, Z. (2012). Coming out of the dark: Content analysis of articles pertaining
      to gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues in couple and family therapy journals. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Published

Grafsky, E. L., Letcher, A., Slesnick, N., & Serovich. J. M. (2011). Comparison of treatment response among LGB and non‐LGB
      street living youth. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 569‐574.

Kerr, Z., Grafsky, E. L., Miller, K., & Love, R. (2011). Stressors and coping strategies for HIV test counselors giving rapid
      HIV‐test results: An exploratory qualitative study. AIDS Patient Care & STDs, 25, 483‐491.

Serovich, J. M., Grafsky, E. L., & Craft, S. M. (2011). Does family matter to HIV‐positive men who have sex with men? Journal of
      Marital and Family Therapy, 37, 290‐298.

Erika in class 
erika in class