Welcome to Barbara Ball, Ph.D., LPC-AT, our new Senior Research Associate!

BarbaraBWe recently sat down with Barbara Ball, Ph.D., LPC-AT, one of three new staff members, to learn a little bit more about her! Barbara is our Senior Research Associate for the Texas Youth Permanency Study. Her work over the past 20 years has been devoted to supporting children and youth who have experienced violence and abuse, trauma and adversity. We are so happy to have her join us! To learn more about Barbara, please visit her staff profile.

What excites you or interests you most about the work you do?

I am excited about joining this team because it offers an opportunity to support children and youth through research, program development, and advocacy for systems’ change.  My previous work focused on violence prevention and working with schools. Right now, I am learning as much as I can about the complexities of the foster care system – observing courts, listening to youth and adults who have been in the system, learning from foster parents, reading. I am thinking about how the system can increase connections and build relationships, rather than fracturing them further. I can’t wait to get the Texas Youth Permanency Study off the ground to build a foundation for answering some of these questions.

What is something you hope to achieve in your career?

I would like to connect the dots between violence prevention, trauma-informed practices, mental health, and promoting healthy relationships and sexual health.

Past jobs or work you want to highlight?

My work over the past 20 years has been devoted to supporting children and youth who have experienced violence and abuse, trauma and adversity. As an art therapist in various psychiatric, out-patient, residential, and school-based settings, I saw the impact of trauma in children’s lives. Through these experiences, I became deeply committed to working toward prevention. At the SAFE Alliance in Austin, I was responsible for developing program materials, curricula, and trainings. I also coordinated the evaluation of Expect Respect, a comprehensive program to reduce dating and sexual violence and promote healthy relationships. This program supports vulnerable youth who face significant adversity, discrimination and victimization, and empowers them through skill development and leadership opportunities. I believe that promoting safe and respectful relationships for children, youth and families is inextricably linked with promoting mental, sexual, and reproductive health. Increasing safety, health, and wellbeing require community-level change. For this reason, I am engaged in several collaborations, including Kids Living Well, the Travis County Children’s Mental Health Plan, and the Manor Collaborative for Safe and Healthy Relationships.

What are some of your personal hobbies?

Creating peaceful gardens, making sculptures, traveling around the world whenever I can, music, books, and mostly spending time with my kids who are growing up way too fast (not a hobby, but important part of my life).