Sheree L. Toth, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Psychology
Professor of Psychology
Dr. Toth’s research interests are broadly focused in the field of developmental psychopathology. She is especially interested in examining the effects of maltreatment and parental depression on child development. Dr. Toth is also committed to the evaluation of preventive interventions for high risk populations.
Dr. Toth’s research interests are guided by a developmental psychopathology perspective that emphasizes the interplay between normal and atypical development and addresses the transactions between ecological contexts and development. As such, she is invested in elucidating processes and mechanisms that contribute to the adaptation of children who are confronted by significant psychosocial adversity. In particular, Dr. Toth’s work addresses the development of children who have experienced maltreatment or who have been reared by a depressed caregiver. Her research has examined representational development in these youngsters, specifically with regard to self-system processes and the emergence of depression.
Much of Dr. Toth’s empirical work has examined factors contributing to maladjustment in children who have been physically abused, sexually abused, or neglected. She is particularly interested in examining the relation between representational development of self and caregiver and the emergence of internalizing disorders.
In addition to basic research, Dr. Toth is committed to bridging research and clinical practice. Building upon a developmental psychopathology framework, she has received NIMH-funding to initiate and evaluate a number of randomized clinical trials of preventive interventions. Dr. Toth has also received funding from NIMH since 1991 to conduct investigations with maltreated children and offspring of mothers with Major Depressive Disorders. This body of work has significantly advanced the field’s understanding of the adverse consequences of negative caregiving on child development.