Youth & Family Studies Lab

Center for Youth & Family Studies

In our lab, we examine emerging psychopathology in adolescents, with a particular focus on how social systems interact with vulnerability for psychopathology. Specifically, the lab examines how adolescent-parent attachment and social cognition relate to a range of important public health outcomes (e.g., psychiatric disorder, self-harm, risky behavior) in teens. All research in the lab is grounded in attachment theory.

Current research projects focus on examining risk and resilience in vulnerable populations of youth and families including adolescents who have recently immigrated and therefore faced separation from their attachment figures; mothers and young children who have recently migrated from Central America to the US; young adults on college campuses in Texas and Latin America; and adolescents who have been detained for breaking the law.

The Youth & Family Studies Lab also provides specialty clinical services to recently immigrated adolescents who are awaiting immigration proceedings in and around Houston. This specialty sub-focus provides clinical training to bilingual graduate students as well as trauma-informed, culturally-sensitive services to vulnerable youth in Texas.

The lab is run by Dr. Amanda Venta. Funding sources have included the National Institutes of Mental Health, the American Psychological Foundation, the Texas Psychological Foundation, the American Psychology-Law Society, and the American Psychological Association.

Lab News

  • Undergraduate Yessica Colin received the TPA Diversity Division award for best paper!

  • Congrats to all of the 2017 graduates! Kaisa, Anna, Ema, and Jennifer received their MA degrees.

  • Kaisa Marshall recently received a $300 travel award for the American Psychological Association conference and was selected for the 2017 Student Publication Subcommittee position with the APA Division 56 Trauma Psychology Newsletter.

  • Anna Abate recently published a piece in the Texas Psychologist. Check it out!

  • The Lab has received an $8,000 award from SHSU's EURECA to collect follow-up data on risk and protective factors in recently immigrated teens. Undergraduates Aleyda Arreola and Yessica Collin will work with Dr. Venta on this project in Summer 2017.
Interested in volunteering as a research assistant?

Please fill out our application at