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Melissa Lee Anderson PhD

TitleAssistant Professor
InstitutionUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School
DepartmentPsychiatry
AddressUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School
55 Lake Ave North
Worcester MA 01605
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    Other Positions
    InstitutionUMMS - School of Medicine
    DepartmentPsychiatry


    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    Boston University, Boston, MA, United StatesBAPsychology
    Boston University, Boston, MA, United StatesBSDeaf Studies
    Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, United StatesMAPsychology
    Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, United StatesPHDClinical Psychology

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview

    Melissa L. Anderson, Ph.D. is a psychologist and clinical researcher in the UMass Medical School Department of Psychiatry, studying an underdeveloped but critical topic area – the development and evaluation of evidence-based psychotherapies for Deaf clients.


    Members of the Deaf community – a sociolinguistic minority group of at least 500,000 Americans whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) – experience trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder (SUD) at rates double to the general population. Yet, to address these disparities, there are no evidence-based behavioral health treatments that have been empirically tested for efficacy with Deaf people. Melissa is making a critical first step toward reducing Deaf people’s behavioral health disparities by developing and evaluating Deaf-accessible interventions for trauma and addiction.


    Melissa has a long-standing history of commitment to the Deaf community, and is highly motivated to focus her research career on developing and evaluating psychotherapy interventions for this unique population. Her interests in this area developed as an undergraduate student at Boston University, where she volunteered at a local domestic violence shelter and witnessed first-hand a Deaf survivor return to a severely abusive relationship due to lack of communication access in the shelter. This experience instilled in her a commitment to provide accessible mental health services to a severely underserved linguistic minority group.


    Because of her interests, she pursued a doctorate in clinical psychology at Gallaudet University, a federally-chartered university for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students. There she obtained APA-accredited training in clinical psychology, provided clinical services to a broad array of Deaf people, and, most importantly, lived and learned as a minority group member in a majority Deaf world. Melissa spent her graduate career studying the experiences of Deaf survivors of intimate partner violence. Since leaving Gallaudet, Melissa has continued to show commitment to providing accessible services to members of the Deaf community.


    At UMass, Melissa provides individual therapy to Deaf clients recovering from trauma and addiction and conducts research on best approaches for working with Deaf clients. She is the recent recipient of a Clinical Research Scholar Award (K12) administered by the UMass Center for Clinical & Translational Science, with which she and a team of Deaf and hearing clinicians and community members are currently developing a digital American Sign Language therapy manual for treating trauma and addiction.




    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    1. Hall WC, Levin LL, Anderson ML. Language deprivation syndrome: a possible neurodevelopmental disorder with sociocultural origins. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2017 Feb 16. PMID: 28204923.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Anderson ML, Wolf Craig KS, Ziedonis DM. Barriers and Facilitators to Deaf Trauma Survivors' Help-Seeking Behavior: Lessons for Behavioral Clinical Trials Research. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2017 Jan; 22(1):118-130. PMID: 27881479.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Anderson ML, Wolf Craig KS, Ziedonis DM. Deaf People's Help-Seeking Following Trauma: Experiences With and Recommendations for the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Care System. Psychol Trauma. 2016 Oct 31. PMID: 27797568.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Anderson ML, Wolf Craig KS, Hall WC, Ziedonis DM. A Pilot Study of Deaf Trauma Survivors' Experiences: Early Traumas Unique to Being Deaf in a Hearing World. J Child Adolesc Trauma. 2016 Dec; 9(4):353-358. PMID: 28138351.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Anderson ML, Wolf Craig KS, Hall WC, Ziedonis DM. A pilot study of deaf trauma survivors’ experiences: Early traumas unique to being deaf in a hearing world. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma. 2016; (Online 1st).
    6. Anderson ML, Sortwell A, Wolf Craig KS, Ziedonis DM . Symptom patterns of posttraumatic stress disorder among deaf trauma survivors. JADARA. 2016; 1(50).
    7. Mundon CR, Anderson ML, Najavits LM. Attitudes toward Substance Abuse Clients: An Empirical Study of Clinical Psychology Trainees. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2015 Sep-Oct; 47(4):293-300. PMID: 26375324.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Anderson ML, Glickman NS, Mistler LA, Gonzalez M. Working therapeutically with deaf people recovering from trauma and addiction. Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2016 Mar; 39(1):27-32. PMID: 25984736.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Patitz BJ, Anderson ML, Najavits LM. An outcome study of Seeking Safety with rural community-based women. Journal of Rural Mental Health. 2015; 1(39):54-58.
    10. Anderson ML, Najavits LM. Does seeking safety reduce PTSD symptoms in women receiving physical disability compensation? Rehabil Psychol. 2014 Aug; 59(3):349-53. PMID: 24978844.
      View in: PubMed
    11. Anderson ML, Ziedonis DM, Najavits LM. Posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder comorbidity among individuals with physical disabilities: findings from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. J Trauma Stress. 2014 Apr; 27(2):182-91. PMID: 24659557.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Anderson ML, Kobek Pezzarossi CM. Violence against Deaf women: effect of partner hearing status. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2014 Jul; 19(3):411-21. PMID: 24296466.
      View in: PubMed
    13. Chakrabarti P, Kim JY, Singh M, Shin YK, Kim J, Kumbrink J, Wu Y, Lee MJ, Kirsch KH, Fried SK, Kandror KV. Melissa L. Anderson: APA/APAGS Award for Distinguished Graduate Student in Professional Psychology. Am Psychol. 2012 Nov; 67(8):716-7. PMID: 23163470.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Gilbert G, Clark MD, & Anderson ML. Do deaf individuals’ dating scripts follow the traditional sexual script?. Sexuality and Culture. 2012; 1(16):90-99.
    15. Anderson ML, Kobek Pezzarossi CM. Is it abuse? Deaf female undergraduates' labeling of partner violence. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2012; 17(2):273-86. PMID: 22140216.
      View in: PubMed
    16. Anderson ML, Leigh IW. Intimate partner violence against deaf female college students. Violence Against Women. 2011 Jul; 17(7):822-34. PMID: 21676984.
      View in: PubMed
    17. Anderson ML, Leigh IW, & Samar VJ. Intimate partner violence against deaf women: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal. 2011; 3(16):200-206.
    18. Wolf Craig KS, Crisologo AC, Anderson ML, Sutton N, & Leigh IW. Reliability and validity of the Adapted COPE Scale with deaf college students. JADARA. 2011; 3(44):116-133.
    19. Allen TE, Anderson ML. Deaf students and their classroom communication: an evaluation of higher order categorical interactions among school and background characteristics. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2010; 15(4):334-47. PMID: 20624758.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Myers C, Clark MD, Musyoka MM, Anderson ML, Gilbert GL, Agyen S, Hauser PC. Black deaf individuals' reading skills: influence of ASL, culture, family characteristics, reading experience, and education. Am Ann Deaf. 2010; 155(4):449-57. PMID: 21305979.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Anderson ML, & Leigh, IW. Internal consistency and factor structure of the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales in a sample of deaf female college students. Journal of Family Violence. 2010; 5(25):475-483.
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