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Center Spotlight: Dr. Paula Zeanah

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The Picard Center would like to acknowledge the recent work and successes of Dr. Paula Zeanah. She has a number of publications currently in press, a grant-funded project that just ended successfully, and a new grant proposal under review. She has also recently given a number of scholarly presentations and has received professional trainings in new areas of expertise. Dr. Zeanah is a valuable member of our team at the Picard Center, and we are thankful for and appreciative of her rigorous pursuits and dedication to her work.

Recent Trainings:

Of note is the training she received for the DC: 0–5™ Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood, which incorporates the best evidence and most current thinking on mental health disorders in young children. The approach emphasizes developmental and contextual factors that contribute to understanding mental health in young children, and it will facilitate research on infant and early childhood mental health. This content will help guide Picard Center’s research on early childhood health, mental health, and early education (for more information, see

Dr. Zeanah also recently attended a week-long training on Systematic Reviews, conducted by the LSU School of Nursing. Using the model of evidenced-based health care developed by the Joanna Briggs Institute in Australia, systematic reviews contribute a rigorous, transparent, evidence-based methodology to collect, appraise, and synthesize bodies of research (including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods, and other sources of evidence) to improve health outcomes, systems, and professional practice ( Stay tuned for more information about how these methods will be applied to our work at Picard and the University.

Grant-Funded Projects:

Thanks to a mini-grant from Project LAUNCH, Dr. Zeanah developed and hosted Wrap Your Arms Around Reading. This 3-session educational program for new parents and new infants (0-6 months of age) incorporated research that demonstrates the powerful impact of the early parent-infant relationship on brain development and the child’s long term development. Research shows that early parent-infant reading can boost young children’s cognitive and academic skills. The educational and interactive sessions highlighted awareness of how very young infants communicate, using reading as an activity that both enhances the developing parent-infant relationship and develops early reading experiences that are fun and rewarding for the baby and parent. Parents and infants received books at each session to take home and enjoy. Though the initial group was small, the response was positive, and we are continuing to develop and extend this program to reach more new parents.

Recent Publications:

Zeanah, P. & Zeanah, C. (in press). Perspectives on infant mental health. In Y. Aoki & H.Matsumoto  (Eds.). In The Basics and Practices of Infant Mental Health, (pp. 14-30). Iwasaki Publishers.

Forsyth, C., Burstein, K., Dick, S., Biggar, R., Hsu, S., & Zeanah, P. (2016). A theoretical model for preparing incarcerated youth for careers in an increasingly technological world: Computational logic as a vehicle for improving human decision-making skills. Journal of Correctional Education,

Sciaraffa, M., Zeanah, P. & Zeanah, C. (in press). Understanding and promoting resilience in the context of adverse childhood experiences, Early Childhood Education Journal.

Zeanah, P.D. (in press). Tackling the tough stuff [Review of the book Tackling the Tough Stuff: A Home Visitor’s Guide to Supporting Families at Risk, A. Tomlin and S. Viehweg.] Infant Mental Health Journal.

Recent Presentations:

Zeanah, P.D., Mukerjhee, S., Venturanza, J., Hinshaw-Fuselier, S., & Easterly, G. (April 2017). When the problem is mental health: Supporting home visitors who support vulnerable families (April 2017). Presented in paper session, A. West, Chair, Building A Better Workforce: What Supports are Needed for Effective Early Childhood Practice? Society for Research in Child Development, Austin, TX.

Lin, H.C., Yang, Y., McDermott, M. J., & Zeanah, P. (April 2017). Difficulties in emotion regulation exacerbates the relation between adverse childhood experiences and adult distress symptoms. Poster presented to the Society of Research on Child Development  Biennial Meeting, Austin, Texas, USA.

Lin, H. C., Zeanah, P., Yang, Y., MacGyvers, V., Richard, T. (April 2017). The association between adverse childhood experiences and adult sexual self-esteem through attachment working models. Poster presented to the Society of Research on Child Development Biennial Meeting, Austin, Texas, USA.

Fuselier, S.H., Zeanah, P.D., Korfmacher, J., Valliere, J., Welch, Y., & Bergeron, G. (December 2016). Programs, principles, and practice: Meeting mental health needs in home visitation. Presented to Zero to Three’s Annual Educational Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Zeanah, C.H. & Zeanah, P.D. (2016, November). Attachment and attachment disorders. Presented to the Four Winds Annual Conference, Nagasaki, Japan.

Venturanza, J., Mukherjee, S., Zeanah, P., Mason, K., Knight, J., & Suire, S. (2016, October). Improving the design of Louisiana’s Infant Mental Health Augmentation using qualitative insight from program staff and clients. Multi-paper session presented at the American Evaluation Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

Zeanah, P., Mukherjee, S., Venturanza, J., Mason, K., Knight, J., & Suire, S. (2016, October). Strategies and challenges of evaluating an established program: Impact on design, implementation, and program processes. Multi-paper session presented at the American Evaluation Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

Purdy, I., Melwak, M.A., Craig, J., & Zeanah, P. (September 2016). Development and dissemination of evidence-based recommendations for psychosocial support of NICU Parents: Post-discharge & beyond. Poster presented to the 15th Annual Research & Evidence-Based Practice Conference at University of California at Los Angeles.

Dolvik, S., Leirbakk, M.J., Bratli, E., Hjelmerud, T., Neerland Opsahl, J., Wiborg, K.A., Zeanah, P., & Magnus, J.H. (2016, June). Advancing public health nursing care in a multi-ethic population: Critical reflection captures needs for training and assessment. Paper presented to the European Union Public Health Association, Oslo, Norway.