Ellen P. Lukens

Sylvia D. & Mose J. Firestone Centennial Professor of Professional Practice


Dr. Ellen Lukens has extensive experience in the development and application of educational and psychoeducational interventions designed to improve quality of life and outcomes for adolescents, adults, and families faced with trauma, mental illness, or other significant life challenges. She is particularly interested in the use of group interventions, and how the combined professional and practical knowledge of leaders and participants can enhance both the educational and therapeutic aspects of treatment, strengthen resiliency and coping skills, and reduce stress. In addition she has clinical expertise related to practice with families, adolescents and children, and with siblings of persons with chronic illness. Currently she is involved in several research projects related to her clinical interests.

Research Interests:

  • Mental health and the family
  • Evidence-based practice for persons with mental health challenges
  • Family psychoeducation and wellness management
  • Caregiving and care receiving across the life cycle
  • Impact of trauma on diverse communities
  • Impact of trauma on children and adolescents
  • Psychoeducational family group interventions for children and adolescents in care
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Collaborative program development and evaluation

Current Projects:

  • Community Awareness through Psychoeducation for Persons with Severe Mental Health Conditions: The CAPE Project
  • Supporting Resource Families and Parenting Youth in Foster Care through Psychoeducation

Selected Publications:

Books Chapters

Lukens, E., & Ogden L. (in press). Psychotic Disorders. In A. Gitterman & N. Heller (Eds.), Mental health and social problems: A social work perspective.  Routledge: London, UK.

Lukens, E., & Thorning, H.  (in press). Siblings in families with mental illness. In J. Caspi (Ed.), Sibling relationships in practice: Cultural and environmental influences.

Lukens, E., & McFarlane, W. (2006). Psychoeducation as evidence-based practice: Considerations for practice, research and policy. In A R. Roberts & K. R. Yeager (Eds.), Foundations of evidence-based social work practice (pp. 241-319). New York: Oxford University Press.

Shibusawa, T., & Lukens, E. (2004). Analyzing qualitative data in a cross-language context: A collaborative model. In D. K. Padgett (Ed.), The qualitative research experience. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson.

Lukens, E. (2003). Treatments for people with severe and persistent mental illness. In Encyclopedia of Social Work (19th ed.).  Washington, DC: NASW Press.

McFarlane, W. R., Dixon, L., Lukens, E., & Lucksted, A. (2002). Severe mental illness. In D. Sprenkle (Ed.), Effectiveness research in marriage and family therapy. Alexandra, Virgina: AAMFT.

Lukens, E., & McFarlane, W. R. (2002). Psychosocial aspects of schizophrenia. In W. R. McFarlane (Ed.), Multiple family groups and severe mental illness. New York: Guilford Press.

Journal Articles

Bledsoe S. E., Lukens, E., Onken, S., & Bellamy, J. (2008) Mental illness, evidence-based practice, and recovery: Is there compatibility between service user identified recovery facilitating and hindering factors and evidence based practices? Best Practices in Mental Health: an International Journal, 4, 34-58.

Lohrer, S., Lukens, E., & Thorning, H. (2007). The costs of caring: Instrumental caregiving involvement among adult siblings of persons with mental illness. Community Mental Health Journal, 43, 129-151.

Lukens, E., & McFarlane, W. (2004). Psychoeducation as evidence-based practice: Considerations for practice, research and policy. Journal of Brief Practice & Crisis Intervention, 4, 205-225.

Lukens, E., Thorning, H., & Lohrer, S. (2004). Sibling perspectives on severe mental illness: Reflections on self and family. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 74, 489-501.

Lukens, E., O’Neill, P., Thorning, H., Cecutti, J., Gubiseh-Ayalla, D., Baptista, M., & Chen, T. (2004). Building resiliency and cultural collaboration post September 11th: A group model of brief integrative psychoeducation for diverse communities. Traumatology, 10, 107-131.


Franks, C., Lukens, E., O’Neill, P., Riedel, M., Sormanti, M., & Witte, S. (2008, Fall). Challenging dialogues in the classroom. Workshop presented at CSWE, Philadelphia, PA.

Lukens, E., O’Neill, P.,Thorning, H., Gheith, A., & Kapadia, A. (2009, January) Enhancing communication and effective response in the event of a pandemic:  Evaluating a social work prevention program for government, community and spiritual first responders during crisis and disaster.  Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Lee, R., Lukens, E., & Herman, D. (2009, January). Policy change and mental health service utilization in early psychosis. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research Conference, New Orleans, LA.