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Pictured is Britney Brinkman. File photo.

Britney Brinkman, Ph.D.

"Point Park's Psy.D. program allows students to work with brilliant professors like Dr. Brinkman, who has dedicated her life to helping those who are often discriminated against and oppressed."

Orlandria Smith '23, Psy.D. candidate and part-time instructor

Britney Brinkman, associate professor of psychology and director of the Psy.D. program, along with doctoral students Shacoya L. Bates '23 and Orlandria Smith '23, recently published their research project, "Centering Black Girls in Sexual Harassment Research: A Community-Based Participatory Action Research Approach" in Taylor & Francis Online's Women & Therapy Journal. 

"Point Park's Psy.D. program allows students to work with brilliant professors like Dr. Brinkman, who has dedicated her life to helping those who are often discriminated against and oppressed," Smith said. 

Pictured is Shacoya Bates. Submitted photo.
Shacoya Bates '23

Brinkman described the project as community-based participatory action research the trio conducted with the Black Girls Equity Alliance (BGEA). The Black Girls Equity Alliance is overseen by Gwen’s Girls and is comprised of practitioners, researchers, system administrators, concerned citizens, young women and girls and other stakeholders who are committed to addressing structural inequalities and subsequent disparities experienced by Black girls in the Greater Pittsburgh region.

The project grew out of a discussion Brinkman participated in as a co-convener of the health and wellness working group of the BGEA.

"During a listening session with Black girls focused on safety in schools, the girls raised concerns about their experiences of sexual harassment," she said. "They expressed that incidents of sexual harassment are not reported because nothing happens when it is. In response to these concerns, members of the BGEA met to discuss how we could reach out to the school districts in our area to ensure that they were using best practices for preventing and responding to sexual harassment."

 Pictured is Orlandria Smith. Submitted photo.
Orlandria Smith '23

Bates and Smith were enrolled in Brinkman's community psychology course at the time, so they assisted with the research project as part of their practicum course. Their involvement continued beyond their practicum as they worked with Brinkman to present their findings at a conference and  developed the manuscript.

Bates said the opportunity to conduct real-world research as she earns her degree was invaluable.

"As a student who plans to practice clinically and conduct research after graduation, this project provided me with experience analyzing and exploring data and different methodologies with experienced researchers," Bates said. "It is not just the research that's ideal; it's the philosophy embedded in the research we do. It doesn't look at those who participate as numbers or data alone. It provides space for participants in the decision-making process regarding what to research, questions to ask and include and how to disseminate what is learned. Qualitative research allows those participating in the process to have their voices and experiences elevated and centralized within it. Their voice is pivotal throughout the entire research process."

Smith wanted to be involved in the project as it aligned with her interest in challenging the context in which Black people are studied and understood in psychology.

"As a researcher and clinician-in-training, I've learned that we need to contextualize Black people's experiences and ask ourselves what is there to be understood from Black suffering and how we might empower and liberate those who experience it," Smith said.

Brinkman received a See the Best in Me award at the BGEA Summit & Awards Dinner in September for her involvement with Gwen's Girls. Learn more about her expertise and research interests on her faculty bio page.


More About: psychology, Psy.D. in clinical-community psychology, faculty research, Pittsburgh, success story, faculty, Psy.D. in clinical psychology