Erlanger (Earl) Turner was a graduate student in clinical psychology at TAMU from 2004 through 2009. He is now a faculty member at the University of Houston, Downtown.
Hi Earl, What are the main topics of your research?
My research is focused broadly on mental health disparities and health equity. To date, I’ve published research in peer-reviewed journals on ethnic minority mental health, access to behavioral health services for youth, and cultural competency in clinical practice. I’m currently in the process of collecting data to examine how African Americans views about seeking professional counseling may be influenced by their cultural values (i.e., spirituality, religious practices, and ethnic identity).
I know that you will be giving an important speech at the upcoming convention of the American Psychological Association. What will you be talking about?
At the upcoming APA convention, I have several presentations on mental health among African Americans.
What motivates you to conduct research?
As an undergraduate student, I had the desire to engage in conducting research that could better understand mental health attitudes among African Americans. Since completing my degree at TAMU, my knowledge has increased on this population. I am motivated to improve our understanding of how culture impacts treatment seeking with the goals of reducing mental health disparities through improving clinician’s behaviors with clients from diverse backgrounds and expanding how we identify people of African descent in research studies. Often individuals are grouped as Black of African American and we lose the diversity within this population (e.g., Caribbean, Jamaican, Haitian, and African).
I know you have been recognized for you research. Can you tell us about that?
I don’t have any recent awards. However, I have received some grant funding to conduct my research through the American Psychological Association (APA). One award and supplemental grant was to help examine factors that impact psychotherapy use among African American parents. I also have earned leadership roles in psychology. Currently, I am the chair of the APA’s Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest. Currently, I am the chair of the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest. I was also appointed last year to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.
What do you hope to accomplish as a teacher of undergraduate students?
My goal as an instructor is to expose undergraduate students to applications of psychology and encourage critical thinking about how psychology can impact the community. In my courses, we often engage in discussions about how current events relate to psychological concepts in the course. I’m especially passionate about mentoring students as reflected by my recent publications co-authored with undergraduate students.