Research Initiatives

Life Writing and LGBTQ+ Populations

Sarah Young and Myra Sabir, principal investigators

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) populations are a community at risk of multiple adverse health outcomes including family rejection, low self-esteem and increased chronic stress when compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers (Huebner, Diaz, R.M & Sanchez, 2009).

Many of these adverse outcomes are related to experiences, including formative childhood experiences, within families. If families respond in ways that affirm the LGBTQ+ person, these individuals experience less suicidality and risk of HIV infection, and see more potential for a happier and healthier adulthood (Huebner, Diaz, R.M & Sanchez, 2009).

Narrative therapy and integrative reminiscence (IR) interventions, including Life Writing, hold promise for LGBTQ+ individuals to examine, reconcile, and heal from rejecting experiences (which promote insecure attachment) within families, as our forthcoming systematic review will demonstrate (Young & Sabir, in progress).

Life Writing and Single Fathers

Stacy Shipe and Myra Sabir, principal investigators

Single fathers are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, and yet they are underrepresented in the social services literature (Coles, 2015). In 2007, approximately 12.5% of families were single father headed; within 10 years this number jumped to 16% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017).

In comparison to single mothers, these men are more often white, better educated and have higher annual salaries (Eickmeyer, 2016); yet, the barriers they must face when attempting to navigate traditionally feminized systems (i.e., child welfare, Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), Women Children and Infants (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and public education) are surprisingly more challenging than for single mothers (Geva, 2011).

In addition to these personal barriers, there is little known about the personal histories of these men and how these histories could impact their ability to be more effective when dealing with these systems (Sabir, 2014). This study proposes to obtain more information about the experiences of single fathers while simultaneously giving them the tools to become stronger advocates for their family's needs.

CRY, LAUGH, CREATE  

Myra Sabir, principal investigator
 

Binghamton University's Town-Gown Advisory Board was established partly in response to the recognized need for Binghamton University students to engage more positively in the local community. A shared goal of both the University and Binghamton City Council is to retain the talents of Binghamton University graduates in Binghamton, N.Y. All concerned are interested in Binghamton students and Binghamton residents achieving optimal levels of physical, psychological, social and economic well-being.

To these ends, the sub-committee for Promoting and Cultivating Positive Community Engagement unanimously proposed the CRY, LAUGH, CREATE (CLC) program, which will pair University students and Binghamton residents in sharing their personal stories and visions to build personal relationships and to gain a number of additional health and well-being benefits.

Sharing significant elements of the life story creates a human bond around what is emotionally meaningful to the self and a connection that is experienced as authentic. It reduces negative, prejudicial, and hostile attitudes toward out-groups and releases our innate desire and capacity to create. Shared expressive writing through the life story has a strong evidence base for developing greater resilience in people of all ages, races, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, genders and more. Resilience helps explain why some people are able to 'bounce back' following challenges presented from childhood to older age.

Finally and importantly, those who effectively engage the expressive writing process begin to function as nodes of positive change in their families, communities and other environments, thus the benefits extend far beyond the number of participants in the project.

Expressive writing is a low risk, low-cost intervention with an extensive list of lasting benefits. The CRY, LAUGH, CREATE project is designed to replicate these benefits in the Binghamton community, including University students, and seeks to have a broad and lasting impact on this community over time.

CLC is designed to be a longitudinal study of self-reported changes in participants' lives. Such interventions generate a pivotal shift in participants' psycho-emotional development that should generate continuing benefits across the lifespan, thus we would like to keep track of participants for the remainder of their lives, if possible.

One criterion for participating in CLC is a willingness to be contacted to complete a follow-up survey at six months post-intervention, one year, and then annually.