Last year, we began our spotlight series on our 2020-21 Faculty Affiliates, and continuing with this series, today we would like to highlight Emma Miller.

Emma Miller, MSW, LCSW is an Assistant Professor of Social Work and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program for Professionals (BWHET) Project Coordinator. Some of Emma’s main research areas are prenatal and infant mental health, health promotion and risk prevention, life transitions, integrated healthcare, interprofessional education, and behavioral health systems alignment and capacity building.

Emma’s research for CSFE was focused on posttraumatic growth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnering with a social work graduate assistant, Chelsea Sokolow, Emma combined her social work background and passion for cultivating human potential to explore how these could be positive transformations instead of a return to the status quo.

“People desperately want to return to normal after COVID-19. I’m going to underscore ‘return to normal.’ So, I began wondering what ‘normal’ was, if that was possible, and even if it was the most ideal,” said Emma, continuing, “Especially in 2020, we were not only experiencing COVID-19, but we were also experiencing many political and social changes. We were finding that our individual routines were highly disrupted along with our societal structures. This seemed to be profound and traumatic on many levels.”

The shared traumatic event that is the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that our lives are operating on a daily basis and it has caused various other aspects of society to shift along with that. Emma’s research considered experiences in Western North Carolina as a way to extrapolate to a helpful perspective for societies on a global scale.

“We are delighted to share that, indeed, there does seem to be a way for us to have positive, transformational changes. We really can surpass our previous individual and group functioning and wellbeing,” said Emma, continuing, “Posttraumatic growth highlights the possibility of having more promising tomorrows. So instead of a return to ‘normal,’ we can go past the status quo, and seek new opportunities that can advance us, individually and collectively.”

We are so excited to continue to work alongside Emma with her research. As the semester winds down, Emma and Chelsea Sokolow will be presenting their research as a part of CSFE’s COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Town Hall series. Stay tuned on our social media channels and here for more information about the series coming soon.

Thank you, Emma Miller, for being a valuable part of the CSFE community.