The primary goal of Dr. Wolchik’s research is to advance our understanding of vulnerability and resilience among at-risk youths. Over the last 25 years, she has conducted research to identify modifiable individual- and family-level processes that promote positive adaptation to parental divorce or parental death. She has developed empirically-based interventions to prevent the onset and/or exacerbation of problem outcomes for youths who experience these family disruptions. Randomized experimental trials have shown significant benefits of these programs on a wide array of mental and physical health outcomes. Short- and long-term follow-up studies have shown that these positive effects last up to 15 years after participation. Her program for divorced families, the New Beginnings Program, has been recognized as a model program by the National Registry of Effective Prevention Programs and Blueprints for Health Youth Development. Dr. Wolchik is committed to bringing these evidence-based programs into real-world settings so that more children and families can benefit. Further, she plans to study factors that affect the quality of program implementation in these settings. She is currently involved in four federally-funded research projects. One of these is a large-scale effectiveness trial of the New Beginnings Program. Another focuses on identifying aspects of implementation of the New Beginnings Program that are associated with greater benefits. The third is a 15-year follow-up of the program for parentally-bereaved youth. The fourth is an experimental evaluation of methods to increase participation in programs for at-risk families.
Dr. Wolchik typically mentors three graduate students. In addition to conducting their Master’s thesis and dissertation research, students in Dr. Wolchik’s lab present at several national conferences and co-author several publications while at ASU. Because of the collaborative nature of Dr. Wolchik’s research, students are able to have informal mentoring relationships with other clinical faculty and Prevention Center postdoctoral students and research staff. After graduating, most of Dr. Wolchik’s students complete post-doctoral training and pursue research careers.