Judy Garber, Ph.D.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and Professor of Psychology & Human Development; Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Director, Developmental Psychopathology Research Training Program
Overview of Interests
Garber's research program focuses on developmental psychopathology. She studies biopsychosocial processes underlying the development and maintenance of emotional disorders, particularly depression, anxiety, and somatization with the goal of developing preventive interventions for children and adolescents. Garber's funded research has examined cognitive vulnerability and family dysfunction among offspring of depressed parents. She has been exploring factors (e.g., the family environment, stress) that contribute to the development of negative cognitions. In two other funded multi-site studies, she studied the relation of treating parents’ depression to changes in children’s symptoms and functioning. These studies also examine whether depressed parents show improvements in their parenting style as they recover from depression. If parental treatment for depression does not reduce risk of dysfunction in offspring, this might then suggest that further interventions beyond simply reducing parents' depressive symptoms are necessary for preventing psychopathology in at-risk offspring. Garber's program of research also involves testing programs for the prevention of depression in at-risk offspring of depressed parents. In a multi-site study, Garber and colleagues tested the efficacy of a cognitive behavioral program prevention (CBP) program and found that CBP was significantly more effective than usual care in preventing new onsets of depressive episodes in high risk adolescents. Currently, Garber and colleagues (Compas, Hollon, & Cole) are conducting another randomized controlled trial testing a program that teaches parenting skills and cognitive restructuring to parents and coping skills to youth. Garber also is conducting a mini-intervention trial aimed at increasing positive affect in children of depressed mothers. Finally, Garber studies the developmental skills needed for children to be able to participate in cognitive therapy for mood and anxiety disorders.