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

  • Cassie received the Outstanding Graduate/Doctoral Student Award at the 2018 Sammy's Award Show! 
  • Tessa and Cassie participated in Three Minute Thesis. Learn more about the competition and watch Cassie's "People's Choice" winning video here: 
  • Congratulations to Kaisa Marshall who successfully proposed her dissertation study!
  • Ericka Ball received a travel award from APLS-- congrats! 
  • Undergraduate Yessica Colin received the TPA Diversity Division award for best paper!

Interested in volunteering as a research assistant?

Please fill out our application at