Miyah Grant ’21 (PsyD) receives postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University

Miyah Grant '21 (PsyD)

Miyah Grant ’21 (PsyD)

Miyah Grant ’21 (PsyD) has accepted a position with Brown University for her clinical psychology postdoctoral fellowship in the Adolescent Forensic and Addiction Psychology program. The fellowship includes two primary training opportunities at the Rhode Island Family Court Mental Health Clinic (RIFC) and Bradley Hospital.

“I am incredibly excited about this opportunity as it provides the ideal training experience to prepare me for a career in adolescent forensic psychology,” Grant said. “I hope to dedicate my career to the treatment and assessment of court-involved youth whose emotional and behavioral disorders have been complicated by family, social, legal, and developmental factors while also working to address disproportionate minority contact within the juvenile justice system.” 

At RIFC, Grant will conduct forensic assessments for juveniles who have been court-ordered to receive mental health evaluations and/or psychological evaluations (including competency to stand trial) in addition to conducting emergency risk assessments. She will also gain competency in providing testimony and clinical consultations related to submitted forensic reports. 

At Bradley Hospital, Grant will be working with adolescents who present with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders (dual diagnosis) in an intensive outpatient setting and a standard outpatient level of care. This rotation provides training and exposure to individual, group, and family-based substance abuse treatment. She also will participate in research involving adolescent psychopathology, substance use, and adolescent risk prevention. 

“I am thankful for the UIndy PsyD program for supporting me throughout my graduate school career,” Grant said. “My advisor, Dr. Katie Kivisto, has consistently provided guidance along the way. The variety of learning and training opportunities truly helped me find my passion within the field of psychology. Collaboration between the PsyD program and training sites within the community provided me with amazing supervisors who helped shape me into the clinician I am today. In addition, I am thankful for the mentorship of Dr. Zachary Adams at IUSM as he has, and continues to, inspire me each day.”


Tylyn Johnson ’22 applies adoption advocacy skills

Greyhound connections and a strong work ethic are paying dividends for Tylyn Johnson ’22 (social work), who has developed a passion for adoption advocacy. While Johnson didn’t set out to become a student adoption advocate, the pandemic changed everything when the time came to pursue an internship.

“I had originally planned on doing some community center-type work,” he said. Instead, “I found myself working with the Indiana Adoption‘s Rosie Butler to develop an understanding of how foster care and adoption work, and from there, trying to raise awareness.”

Butler, a University of Indianapolis alumna, was immediately impressed with Johnson’s work and dedication.

“Tylyn has immersed himself in this internship, one that is outside the ordinary internship for social work students because of the pandemic, and has gone above and beyond my expectations. He has an exceptional ability to grasp concepts, interpret data, explore his ideas and run with them,” said Butler ’84 (social work).

As Johnson was learning more about the needs, practices, and history within foster care and adoption, he saw not only an opportunity to develop knowledge but an opportunity to try to help spark more conversations around this subject. 

“The way I think about adoption, it’s about providing an important resource to youth, that resource being a “forever family,” which can improve their outcomes in ways that are massively important, and which can create more love in homes in a world that I want to see overflow with love,” said Johnson.

Tylyn Johnson

Tylyn Johnson

When Johnson started at UIndy, he was an undecided major. He knew that he wanted to help people in meaningful and effective ways, so he took a social work course with a service-learning element during his freshman year and was hooked.

‘The social work program has helped prepare me for my future career by articulating more specifically how I can actively engage communities in my work,” said Johnson. “[Extra-curriculars also] helped spur my development as a writer, as a resource professional, and as a human being.”

During his time at UIndy, Johnson has been involved in the Interfaith Scholars Program, the Black Student Association, UIndy Pride, and Healing Hounds. Additionally, he considers himself a “part-time writer,” writing and sharing poetry and stories where he can offer a bit of artistic empowerment to people who need it.

“As a social work student, Tylyn’s work ethic, creativity, scholarship, and passion for social justice are just a few of the unique qualities he brings to the classroom and his practicum,” said Christie Jansing, assistant professor and director of field education for the University of Indianapolis Bachelor of Social Work Program. “While his practicum will be wrapping up at the end of the semester, I know that great things are still to come for Tylyn.”

Johnson appreciates the support he’s received from student resources including the Professional Edge Center and the Center for Advising & Student Achievement. He has received support from many faculty members as well.

“Dr. Eduard Arriaga (Global Languages) really helped me engage more not only with writing multilingually but also in engaging with various areas of Afro-centric scholarship. And then seeing the likes of Rev. Arionne Williams (Chapel & Interfaith) and Andre Givens (Business) keeping really high standards but then also having a sense of joy that permeates the people around them has also influenced me,” said Johnson. 

Johnson hopes to see more people investing in adoption in the future and is passionate about sharing ways to engage with adoption issues, whether that be reading about and listening to the perspectives of adoptive families and former foster youth, volunteering with foster youth through various organizations, or simply raising awareness by talking about adoption with the people around you. 

He believes that steps should be taken to make adulthood an easier transition for foster kids/adoptees, from college preparation or vocational training to developing life skills or connecting them with community resources. 

“Just because a kid is without a family foundation doesn’t mean they should be stuck with higher risks of homelessness or under/unemployment, and there are so many resources in our communities that can help them if the connections are made,” Johnson said.

Rosie Butler stated that “[Johnson] is on a mission. He really does want to get the word out that there is a need for Forever Families. He truly reflects the “Education for Service” UIndy motto.” 


University of Indianapolis study finds increased risk of adolescent suicide associated with household firearm ownership

Aaron Kivisto, University of Indianapolis associate professor of clinical psychology

Aaron Kivisto, University of Indianapolis associate professor of clinical psychology

Study confirms safe storage provisions are associated with decreased adolescent firearm suicide

INDIANAPOLIS—New research from the University of Indianapolis shows that state-level gun ownership is strongly linked to rates of suicide among high school-aged adolescents, and gun ownership is linked more strongly to adolescent suicide than adult suicide. The research also determined that child access prevention laws, particularly those that require that gun locks to be included with all handgun sales, were associated with decreased rates of firearm suicide. 

The study, “Adolescent Suicide, Household Firearm Ownership, and the Effects of Child Access Prevention Laws,” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Aaron Kivisto, associate professor of clinical psychology, was the lead author of the study. Co-authors include Katherine Kivisto, associate professor of clinical child psychology, Erica Gurnell ’22 (PsyD), Peter Phalen ’18 (PsyD) and Bradley Ray.

The study examined 37,652 suicides among high school-aged adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18 years old between 1991 and 2017, and found that slightly more than half of these involved firearms. Researchers found that for each 10-percent-point increase in state gun ownership, rates of high school-age adolescent firearm suicide increased by 39 percent compared to 18 percent among adults. This association between firearm ownership and suicide was approximately two times stronger among adolescents relative to adults, a significant difference.

The research also determined that child access prevention laws requiring safe-storage practices, and particularly laws requiring that gun locks be included with all handgun sales, were associated with decreased rates of firearm suicide. While these laws were associated with decreased firearm suicide across the lifespan, they were associated with significantly larger reductions in suicide among high school-aged adolescents compared to adults. This suggests that laws promoting safe-storage practices are uniquely suited to preventing youth suicide.

“Our results show that the relative risk of suicide for adolescents conferred by firearms is approximately twice that observed among adults. Although these findings highlight the risks of household firearm ownership for youth living in the home, we find promise in the observation that child access prevention laws mandating handgun locks and safe storage appear to reduce this risk considerably. These data suggest that the expansion of requirements that firearm locks be provided with all handgun sales, not only those through federally licensed firearm dealers, might reduce the impact of youth firearm suicide,” Aaron Kivisto said. 

The results expand on Kivisto’s previous findings related to Indiana’s ‘red flag’ law, which found that risk-based firearm seizure laws provided one promising legislative strategy for reducing firearm suicide.

“In examining laws that would theoretically target suicide risk particularly among children and adolescents, these findings suggest that separate, targeted legislative solutions might be necessary for decreasing suicide risk among children, youth and adults,” Kivisto said.

About the University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis, founded in 1902, is a private university located just a few minutes from downtown Indianapolis. The University is ranked among the top National Universities by U.S. News and World Report, with a diverse enrollment of nearly 5,600 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. The University offers a wide variety of study areas, including 100+ undergraduate degrees, more than 40 master’s degree programs and five doctoral programs. More occupational therapists, physical therapists and clinical psychologists graduate from the University each year than any other state institution. With strong programs in engineering, business, and education, the University of Indianapolis impacts its community by living its motto, “Education for Service.” Learn more: uindy.edu.

University of Indianapolis study points to positive impact of father-child play

Fathers who play with their young children are making an impact that lasts well beyond childhood, a new study from the University of Indianapolis has found.

The study, “Father-child play, child emotional dysregulation, and adolescent internalizing symptoms: A longitudinal multiple mediation analysis,” was published in Development & Psychopathology’s December 2018 edition. Jenifer Gregory ’17 (Psy.D., clinical psychology) ’14 (M.A., clinical psychology) authored the paper, with University of Indianapolis faculty Katie Kivisto and Neil Perdue as co-authors, along with David Estell of Indiana University. The paper was based on Gregory’s doctoral dissertation and is her first research publication in a scientific journal.

Jenifer Gregory

Jenifer Gregory

Gregory, who is now in private practice as a clinical psychologist at Continuum: Mental Health & Wellness in Indianapolis, said the research supports that “positive and supportive father-child relationships are very important for healthy child development.”

One way to measure those relationships is by the quality of father-child interactions during play time. The researchers found that children who have fathers who play with them “in a manner that is sensitive, supportive, emotionally attuned, attentive and challenging without being overstimulating are more likely to learn how to effectively self-regulate or cope with their emotions,” Gregory explained. This finding was true even after researchers accounted for factors like family income and quality of the mother-child relationship.

Father-child play also helps with long-term emotional growth, the study found, with the quality of those interactions predicting kids’ positive development through adolescence.

“The kids who had better quality play with their dads in first grade were better at emotion regulation in third grade and had less depression as 15-year-olds,” Kivisto said.

The study pulled data from a national data set of early childcare and youth development, commissioned by National Institute of Child Health and Development and conducted at various sites throughout the country.

“Based on our findings, fathers in particular (and parents in general) should encourage and engage in this type of positive, child-centered and child-directed play in order to support children’s emotional development,” Gregory said.

With state and national initiatives aimed at getting fathers more involved with their children, Kivisto said the research can be useful for agencies and community support networks that provide parenting advice.

Katie Kivisto

Katie Kivisto

“What dads are doing is making an impact and shaping kids’ development. We want to remind them that play is really important, and goes hand-in-hand with meeting basic needs and discipline,” Kivisto said.

Kivisto’s clinical and research background in parent-child attachment and emotional regulation development matched Gregory’s academic interests as she pursued a dissertation topic. Kivisto connected Gregory to Neil Perdue, associate professor of psychology, vice president and chief operating officer, to gain access to a database that proved crucial to the research.

“As we looked through the data that had become available to us, it became clear that we should utilize the study’s observations of father-child play as a measure of relationship quality because this type of observation is so rarely utilized,” Gregory said.

Gregory said her coursework, research and practicum training at UIndy prepared her for her current work with children and families.

“It guides my interventions with families in that I strive to involve parents, and particularly fathers, in the process of working with children. I emphasize the importance of the type of child-centered, child-directed, sensitive and supportive play that we found to be so important for child emotional development,” she said.

Kivisto points out that the sample used in the study happened to involve biological fathers, but the researchers are respectful of the fact that not every family has a biological father involved. The key takeaway for parents is to make sure that they take the time to play with children on a regular basis.

“Parents can feel stressed by the idea of adding one more thing to their to-do list,” Kivisto noted, “But research shows that even 5-10 minutes a day of this kind of play can improve child behavior and wellbeing.”

Written by Sara Galer, University of Indianapolis communications manager.


University of Indianapolis study to examine epidemic of teen substance addiction

College of Applied Behavioral Sciences study to address obstacles to overcoming addiction

Assistant Professor Katherine Kivisto

Assistant Professor Katherine Kivisto

A study conducted by University of Indianapolis researchers examining the epidemic of teenage substance abuse will be supported through a grant from the National Institute of Health/National Institute of Drug Abuse.

The $300,000 NIH/NIDA grant will support the study by the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences to address an ongoing issue impacting communities across the nation, including Indiana. The grant will fund The Teen Resilience Project, which focuses on understanding the obstacles of addiction and long-term recovery for 13- to 18-year-olds. Assistant Professor Katherine Kivisto at the University of Indianapolis will lead the study.

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February highlights from the University of Indianapolis

The University of Indianapolis strengthened its south side community ties with a scholarship announcement in February. WICR and the School of Education both celebrated awards, while UIndy Athletics hosted regional competitions in NCAA wrestling and indoor track and field.