Doctoral Student Awarded AADA Research Grant for Study on Aging

HandsThomas Christensen, a doctoral student in counseling and counselor education, will be presented with a competitive research grant award for his studies on adult development and healthy aging.
The award from the Association for Adult Development and Aging (AADA) Research Grant Program will be used to provide financial support while Christensen continues to research and write his dissertation on older adults, one of the most marginalized populations today. Christensen, one of two students selected nationally to receive this year’s research grant, will be honored with the award at the 2014 American Counseling Association Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 29.
Christensen, a licensed mental health counselor who actively consults with nursing homes, is studying the self-advocacy experiences of older adults receiving long-term care in nursing home settings through the use of photovoice. This approach will allow residents to photograph and document their daily life experiences through photos and narratives that they will then share with nursing home peers and employees, as well as policymakers and legislators, at self-advocacy exhibits. This process, Christensen hopes, will ultimately help to create dialogue among nursing homes and the broader community around mental health, disability, and healthy aging.
Research shows that more than 85 percent of long-term care residents are not involved in their placement decisions. “There is a lack of voice and choice among the aging population, particularly when it comes to providing long-term care in nursing homes,” he said. “This award will allow me to help clients identify, resist, and challenge ageist attitudes with the goal of promoting a sense of voice among the elderly.”
Christensen, a resident of Rochester, served as vice president of the Mental Health Association of Rochester prior to enrolling in the PhD program at Warner. In addition to AADA, he is a current member of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), the North Atlantic Region Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NARACES), the American Counseling Association (ACA), and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). He has served as a board member of the Regional Center for Independent Living and is currently an adjunct faculty in the creative arts therapy program at Nazareth College.
Chartered in 1986, AADA serves as a focal point for information sharing, professional development, and advocacy related to adult development and aging issues. AADA also addresses counseling concerns across the lifespan. 

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform. 
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Tags: adult development, aging, Association for Adult Development and Aging, counseling, counselor education, doctoral student, doctoral student experience, gerontological mental health counseling, gerontology, student