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   STIMHR Faculty Research Awards

j0297243UTSA faculty who are involved in mental-health research or are planning to pursue this type of research are annually invited to participate in the summer research awards program. The primary purpose of this award program is to help faculty develop competitive grant proposals to advance their program of research. Three research awards are made each summer. The awards provide summer salary for one month and one course release in the fall semester. At the end of the fall semester, each award recipient is expected to submit a grant proposal (minimum level of $50,000 a year).

The Advisory Committee will review applications for the awards and determine the recipients, with preference to junior faculty, although associate professors will also be given consideration. At the end of the summer, award recipients will submit progress reports and the Advisory Committee and the Program Director will provide feedback. At the end of the fall semester, the Advisory Committee and Director will review the grant proposals and provide feedback. Recipients will then be expected to submit their proposals to extramural granting agencies.

2005 Faculty Research Award Recipients>>

2006 STIMHR Faculty Research Award Recipients

Norma S. Guerra, Ph.D.


Dr. Norma Guerra received her training in Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University and has worked at UTSA in various capacities for a number of years. In 2004, she assumed the challenge of serving as a tenure-track faculty person committing herself to the traditional academic triad of teaching, research and service. In terms of research, Dr. Guerra is interested in the development and examination of a problem-solving framework which she calls the “LIBRE Model”. This cognitively-based approach relies on modeling and self-regulation to both address a client’s complaint as well as to provide a framework for future independent problem solving. As a result of her work in a variety of settings including counseling, teaching, and higher education she has determined that the approach can provide useful insight into the nature and level of usual engagement. Defined as various identifiable points along a continuum of attention ranging from initial to sustained, she is interested in exploring the potential contributions and applications that are possible.

Dr. Guerra's proposed study examines “cross cultural sensitivity” in counseling with its implications for access among Hispanics while also providing an opportunity to further develop an emerging therapeutic LIBRE Model. Preliminary clinical work with the LIBRE Model has resulted in favorable results. The LIBRE Model has been well received by low-income public housing, rural community and undergraduate and graduate upper middle-income Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Preliminary stability and test-retest analysis have resulted in reasonable levels for both. Problem solving (processing) has been examined across context, content, and facilitator – client combinations. Extant validity studies suggest association between attention and confidence, initial and sustained, in processing the problem solving activity, category of engagement, and likelihood of action. The significance of this line of inquiry can be better understood considering the basis for initial and sustained attention. Initial attention, which is generally learned in the home, with family and through cultural experience contrasts with sustained attention which tends to be more reflective of the current context and based on “groomed experience” that is, experience involving schools, and other valued social systems.

The current inquiry is intended as a natural experiment looking at several aspects of client-practitioner interaction and satisfaction. The counselor training at UTSA is intending to implement a practicum component to training that includes the pairing of master’s level trainees and undergraduate students. This provides the opportunity to examine the influence and impact of cross cultural and culturally matched dyads. The specific research objectives to be addressed include:

• differential receptivity to counseling based on the utilization of the LIBRE Model for ethnically matched and cross matched counselor-client dyads

• differential satisfaction with the counseling experience based on the utilization of the LIBRE Model for ethnically matched and cross matched counselor-client dyads

• differential assessed engagement based on the utilization of the LIBRE Model for ethnically matched and cross matched counselor-client dyads

Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles, Ph.D.



Elaine M. Wittenberg-Lyles, assistant professor in interpersonal communication, received her Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, 2004. Her research program entails an examination of the interpersonal processes occurring in the context of death and dying. She is a visiting faculty member at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in the Department of Medicine where she is actively involved with the Geriatric Palliative Care Consultation Service. She has examined communication in hospice enrollment conversations which will be appearing later this year in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care. Recently, Dr. Wittenberg-Lyles was one of only 37 applicants selected to participate in the National Institute on Aging, Summer Institute on Aging Research. More recently, she completed a grant proposal to study the role of culture in the perceptions and practices of complementary and alternative medicine treatment among Latinos in South Texas, with an overall goal of developing an instrument to assist physicians in recognizing Latino CAM users. Her current research agenda a focuses on the mental health of hospice caregivers in an effort to develop culturally-appropriate bereavement interventions.

In line with this program of research, Dr. Wittenberg-Lyles' proposed project delves into the development of successful bereavement interventions as a function of culture among Latina/o caregivers.