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Doctoral grad creates online aid for children and families

Jesse Boring
December 07, 2011

Struggles and hardships are worth it when you can accomplish a goal you are truly passionate about, says Jesse Boring. He is graduating from ASU this December with a doctorate in clinical psychology, from ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

During the seven years of his doctoral study, Boring has developed Children of Divorce-Coping with Divorce (CoD-CoD), an online program to help prevent emotional and health problems for the 1.1 million children who experience divorce each year.

“These children are at twice the risk of developing a range of mental health problems as compared to children from intact families,” he says.

For his dissertation, Boring conducted a full-scale randomized clinical trial of the program he developed. “My proudest moment was when, after three years of planning, program development, recruiting and tracking, the analysis showed the program actually worked and did what it was meant to do. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Internet-based interventions are becoming a significant part of clinical psychology programs and Boring hopes that some of the innovative approaches he developed for CoD-CoD can help advance future online programs.

Receiving his doctorate creates an opportunity to take the next steps towards doing what he believes in, says Boring, which includes getting CoD-CoD out into the world where it can help the children it was designed to serve, and working with other psychologists to put more mental health programs online where they are accessible to the public.

“I think the great tragedy of clinical psychology today is that we have many programs that we know help people, but we haven't figured out yet how to get them to the people who need them.”

Boring has supported his education through a combination of scholarships, fellowships and student loans. “In order to save money and allow myself enough time to create the CoD-CoD program, for the past two years I lived with family members and in a friend's basement. I often slept on rooftops when I had to travel in order to save money on hotels.”

He dismisses the financial challenges. “It was fun to do something I believed completely in doing.”

Mentorship and guidance from Keith Crnic and Irwin Sandler, ASU professors, fueled him throughout his research, he says. “I am also grateful to the ASU Graduate College for funding me while I completed my clinical trial through the Graduate College Completion Fellowship.”

The CoD-CoD program is planned for distribution next June through a nonprofit agency. Meanwhile, Boring is working with psychologists at the Pennsylvania State University Prevention Research Center and ASU’s Prevention Research Center to help develop other online programs for what he cares about most – easily accessible help for children and families when it is needed most in a crisis.

Michele St George
Publications, Graduate College