Dr. Erin Hambrick is one of the newest professors in the UMKC Psychology Department. Her developing research is based on the study of children who have been exposed to trauma.
Last Wednesday, Hambrick held a presentation for students and community members interested in learning more about her research.
The presentation covered the importance of understanding the occurrences of child trauma, identifying risk and protective factors along with understanding the different types of interventions.
According to Dr. Hambrick, there are two typical responses to stress. The first is hyperarousal; the act of being alert and wanting to fight or jump to a response. The second is dissociation; the act of freezing. Freezing is caused by previous traumatic moments in a child’s life when they were unable to fight or flee.
Babies who are neglected of nurture often grow into children who possess freezing as their coping mechanism. The neglected care of a parent brings on a feeling of hopelessness upon babies because they cannot control their environment or escape it.
In a stressful environment, this leaves a childless cognitively aware. This cycle leads to a child being avoidant.
“I like to bring this up because sometimes when I work with people who are working with kids who have experienced trauma, they’ll tell me they didn’t know anything was wrong because they were always so polite,” said Hambrick. “But it reality they were just trying to blend in and didn’t want anybody to know that there was something wrong with them. “
Dr. Hambrick also stressed the idea that learning is state dependent. In other words, people learn best when they are very not stressed.
“This is why your teachers tell you not to cram for your exams” Hambrick explained. “When you are very stressed out and studying the night before, you will not be able to retain the information.”
Hambrick is part of various trauma projects. There are currently four undergraduate students that work with Dr. Hambrick in her lab. Hambrick says anyone can get involved by doing as little as sitting in on the lab session or actually joining the team.