Dr. Katherine Shear Named Marion Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University School of Social Work

April 7, 2006 @ 4:00 am

April 7, 2006
New York, NY – The Columbia School of Social Work (CUSSW), the first established social work school in the nation, welcomes Dr. Katherine Shear as the Marion E. Kenworthy Chair of Psychiatry in Social Work.

Established in 1956, the Marion E. Kenworthy Chair of Psychiatry was the first professorship created at CUSSW. Dr. Kenworthy was the first female professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and served as the Director of the former Department of Mental Hygiene at the School of Social Work. Says Dean Jeanette Takamura: “We are excited to have Dr. Katherine Shear join our faculty team. Her expertise and revolutionary study of complicated grief, as well as her extensive research on mood and anxiety disorders, have contributed significantly to the international psychiatric community. Our faculty and students are already greatly benefiting from her work.”

Says Dr. Shear: “Social workers comprise the psychotherapy work force of the country. CUSSW is the largest social work school in the country, training more than 700 Master’s students each year in more than 300 practicum placement agencies. We have a unique and very exciting opportunity to offer these students training in proven efficacious psychotherapy methods for mental health problems.”

Dr. Shear graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and attended Tufts University Medical School. After completing residencies in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry, and a research fellowship in psychosomatic medicine, she joined the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Cornell University Medical College. During her tenure at Payne Whitney Clinic, she established the Department’s first clinical research program in Anxiety Disorders. In 1992, Dr. Shear moved to the University of Pittsburgh, where she served as Professor of Psychiatry until January, 2006. Her work focused on the development and implementation of funded research in anxiety disorders, depression, and grief, primarily in the area of psychotherapy studies. She has conducted studies and provided mentorship using a wide range of psychotherapy methods. Her research entails development and testing of treatment methods that can be used to improve mental health care in the community.

While in Pittsburgh, Dr. Shear obtained a National Institute of Mental Health infrastructure grant for clinical services research targeting women with mood and anxiety disorders. This grant supported a series of innovative pilot projects initiated by more than a dozen different investigators, including trainees and faculty from a range of disciplines. Projects were performed at sites that served low-income minorities in rural communities, primary care medical facilities and community agencies serving women victims of abuse.

Her recent research has been in the area of bereavement and grief. She developed and tested a novel treatment for the newly identified condition of complicated grief. This work culminated in June 2005 in the publication of a landmark randomized controlled treatment study showing efficacy. Her treatment manual is currently scheduled for publication by Guilford Press. She lectures nationally and internationally on the topic of grief and conducts training in treatment strategies for bereaved people. A recent project included collaboration with the grief response team at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, a large and rapidly growing church serving a primarily low income African American congregation.

Dr. Shear has engaged in a line of investigation, as a component of her treatment research, related to the development and testing of assessment instruments. Among the instruments that resulted from this work are the widely used Panic Disorder Severity Scale, as well as a newer Generalized Anxiety Disorder Severity Scale – a structured version of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety, which is an instrument used to assess adult separation anxiety disorder and several new grief assessment measures. She has served on the scientific advisory board of the Italy-based Spectrum Project (www.spectrum-project.org) that has created and tested a range of instruments to assess the spectrum of clinical features associated with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Among these is the recently completed trauma and loss spectrum instrument. Dr. Shear plans to continue her work in bereavement and grief, collaborating with colleagues at CUSSW as well as elsewhere in the university.