Catherine Eubanks

Catherine Eubanks, PhD, who joins the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology faculty as a professor, is enthusiastically including her students in her research, which is focused on repairing ruptures in therapist/patient relationships.

While Dr. Eubanks comes to Adelphi from Yeshiva University, her ties with the Gordon F. Derner School of Psychology predate her arrival.

“I benefited from excellent research mentoring throughout my training, and I really enjoy the chance to build mentoring relationships with students,” she said. “Derner also prioritizes training students to be good clinicians. That balance of training in both research and practice, in helping students appreciate both the science and art of psychotherapy, is something I value.”

She is also the co-author of Therapist Performance Under Pressure: Negotiating Emotion, Difference, and Rupture (American Psychological Association, 2020) with J. Christopher Muran, PhD, Derner School associate dean and professor of psychology.

Building on a History With Derner

“Through my collaborations with Chris Muran and his doctoral students over the years, I’ve learned about Derner and its approach to psychotherapy training,” she said. “Derner has a remarkable concentration of accomplished psychotherapy process and outcome researchers, as well as leading scholars and researchers across multiple areas of psychology who provide rich opportunities for collaboration. I value the opportunity to do meaningful work in a welcoming academic environment.”

Dr. Eubanks reported that she was honored to lead a Fall 2022 PhD convocation discussion with noted psychologist Marvin Goldfried, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychology at Stony Brook University, who had been her own graduate school mentor. “Marv was an integral part of the excellent mentoring I received,” she recalled. “It was wonderful to have the chance to introduce him to Derner students, talk with him about common principles shared across different psychotherapy approaches, and ask his advice for students just starting their clinical training.”

Repairing Ruptured Therapist/Patient Relationships

Dr. Eubanks’ research focuses on helping therapists navigate problems in their working relationship with a patient. “We refer to difficulties with collaboration and/or strains in the emotional bond between patient and therapist as ruptures in the therapeutic alliance,” she explained. “In order to study ruptures, we need to be able to measure them.”

While she has been focused on developing and validating the Rupture Resolution Rating System, or 3Rs, an observer-based measure of alliance ruptures and repairs, she has recently revised it and will be working to validate a self-report version of the 3RS with Dr. Muran and Louis Castonguay, PhD, a professor of psychology at Penn State.

Alliance-Focused Training

“My other research area is alliance-focused training (AFT), which was developed by Chris Muran and the late psychologist Jeremy Safran [PhD]. This form of clinical supervision helps therapists recognize when ruptures are occurring and trains them in strategies to facilitate rupture repair.” Dr. Eubanks and Dr. Muran are collaborating with other researchers on a guide to AFT.

She is also a director—along with Dr. Muran—of the Center for Alliance-Focused Training, which she described as a nexus for research on and dissemination of AFT that offers therapists clinical training tools and resources as well as webinars and conference workshops.

“My hope is now that Chris Muran and I are both at Adelphi, we can more easily pursue training and research collaborations between the center and Derner students, faculty and alumni,” she said, adding that her students will play a key role in all her research. “Their observations and questions help me clarify my thinking and see things I’ve missed.”

A Rewarding Balance

She will also continue to advise Anna Babl, PhD, a German postdoc she has known for some time. “She was working with researchers I know at the University of Bern in Switzerland, and she has great ideas about ways to disseminate alliance-focused training,” Dr. Eubanks said. “We’ve been working together over email and Zoom, and when her current maternity leave is over, she’ll come to New York and we’ll be able to work together in person.”

Dr. Eubanks reported that her first semester is going well, noting that she is enjoying “the chance to do both clinical supervision and research supervision with students—to have balance in research and practice in my own work is very rewarding.”

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