Teaching at Lyndon State College has been a privilege, one made even more meaningful for me by the fact that three generations of my family once lived in the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to my academic appointment in 2005, I spent 15 years as a clinical practitioner in various community mental health agencies specializing in the assessment and treatment of individuals diagnosed with chronic and severe mental illness such as schizophrenia-spectrum, major mood and anxiety disorders including co-occurring substance dependence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. My professional background includes training and supervising social workers, psychiatric nurses, and case managers in the use of evidence-based mental health practices. I also have an extensive publications record in community-based research. Earlier in my career, I spent five years at the University of Rhode Island as Director of Substance Abuse Prevention Services. The skills and experience I acquired as a clinical social worker have served me well as an instructor. I enjoy experimenting with different teaching methods that emphasize collaborative, hands-on learning.
One of my greatest joys in teaching is in helping students cultivate their own talents and recognize their potential for academic success. Because I really get to know my students, it’s especially gratifying to witness their professional development in our program. Our department prides itself on its student-centered approach to teaching and advising. As faculty members, we hope to inspire our students to become skilled, compassionate, and ethical practitioners in their chosen fields.
My professional interests include community-based services for adults diagnosed with chronic forms of psychopathology; clinical practice with families; death, dying and bereavement; psychosocial interventions for psychological trauma; and mental health disaster response. My current research focuses on the association between cognitive appraisal and traumatic stress symptoms among mental health clients with severe mental illness.
One of my elective courses, Responding to Psychological Trauma, resulted from an interdisciplinary collaboration with a faculty colleague, Dan Williams, a professor of Journalism. My course was designed primarily for helping professionals seeking knowledge and skills in handling psychological trauma with different client populations. Professor Williams developed an abbreviated one-credit course for Journalism majors. Our courses are linked with overlapping training sessions. One of our goals has been to encourage more responsible media coverage sensitive to victims of violence, natural disaster, and other traumatic events. With a mutual commitment to experiential learning, Professor Williams and I require our students to participate in a joint disaster drill exercise with emergency personnel in the community. Our disaster response exercises have provided a unique training opportunity for our students and valuable practice sessions for local emergency groups, including fire departments, state and local police, ambulance and hospital personnel, and members of the American Red Cross. This is has been a satisfying collaboration that has generated interest from both inside and outside the college.
Below are two video clips from our disaster response exercise held in November 2011:
Sherrer, M.V. & O’Hare, T. (2008) Clinical case management. In The Clinical Handbook of Schizophrenia. New York: Guilford Press.
Sherrer, M.V. & Read, J.P. (1998). The college culture: does it encourage drug abuse?Your College Experience: Strategies for Success (2nd ed.) pp. 59-66. Wadsworth Publishing Co. Chapter included in the University of Rhode Island textbook for mandatory first-year seminar.
Selected Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals
Sherrer, M.V. (2011). The role of cognitive appraisal in adaptation to traumatic stress in adults with serious mental illness: a critical review. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 12 (3), 151-167.
O’Hare, T., Shen, C., & Sherrer, M.V. (in press). Validation of a brief PTSD scale for clients with severe mental illnesses. Research on Social Work Practice.
O’Hare, T. & Sherrer, M.V. (2011) Subjective distress associated with sudden loss in clients with severe mental illness. Community Mental Health Journal, 47, 646-653.
O’Hare, T. & Sherrer, M.V. (2011). Drinking motives as mediators between PTSD symptom severity and alcohol consumption in persons with severe mental illnesses. Addictive Behaviors, 36, 465-469.
O’Hare, T., Shen, C., & Sherrer, M.V. (2010). High risk behaviors and drinking to cope as mediators of lifetime abuse and PTSD symptoms in clients with severe mental illness.Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23(2), 255-263.
O’Hare, T. and Sherrer, M.V. (2009). Lifetime traumatic events and high risk behaviors as predictors of PTSD symptoms in persons with severe mental illnesses. Social Work Research, 33 (4), 209-218.
O’Hare, T. & Sherrer, M.V. (2009). Effects of clinic staff support on psychosocial wellbeing and PTSD symptom severity in clients with severe mental illnesses. Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal, 5 (2), 1-13.
O’Hare, T. and Sherrer, M.V. (2009). Impact of the most frequently reported traumatic events on community mental health clients. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 19 (2), 1-13.
O’Hare, T., Sherrer, M.V., Yeamen, D. & Cutler, J. (2009). Correlates of PTSD in male and female community clients. Social Work in Mental Health, 7 (4), 340-352.
O’Hare, T., Shen, C., and Sherrer, M.V. (2007). Validating the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder scale (interview version; PSS-I) with persons who have severe mental illnesses.Research on Social Work Practice, 17 (6), 720-728.
O’Hare, T. & Sherrer, M.V. (2006). Measuring practice skills with community clients. Best Practices in Mental Health, 2 (2), 31-42.
O’Hare, T., Sherrer, M.V., & Shen, C. (2006). Subjective distress from stressful events and high risk behaviors as predictors of PTSD symptom severity in clients with severe mental illness. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19 (3), 1-12.
O’Hare, T. and Sherrer, M.V. (2006). Stress, recent changes in alcohol consumption level and problem drinking in freshman first offenders. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 13 (3), 33-50.
O’Hare, T. and Sherrer, M.V. (2005). Assessment of youthful problem drinkers validating the drinking context scale (DCS-9) with freshman first offenders. Research on Social Work Practice, 15 (2), 110-117.
Sherrer, M.V. & Williams, D. A model program for disaster response in rural communities.Poster presentation at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) annual conference held in Montreal, QC, Canada. (November 2010).
O’Hare, T. & Sherrer, M.V. Severe mental illness, lifetime sexual abuse, PTSD drinking motives and high risk behaviors: potential mediating pathways. Presentation at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) annual conference, Montreal, QC, Canada. (November 2010).
Sherrer, M.V. & Bailin, D. Hearing every voice: using the World Café to facilitate change on campus. Pre-conference session at the NACADA annual conference in San Antonio, Texas (September 2009).
Sherrer, M.V. Understanding & Responding to Psychological Trauma. Workshop session for Vermont Women in Higher Education Fall 2007 Conference. This workshop presentation provided an overview of the research on psychological trauma with an emphasis on understanding and responding to traumatic stress in work-related settings (November 2007).
O’Hare, T. and Sherrer, M.V. Effects of staff social support on PTSD symptom severity in clients with severe mental illnesses. Paper accepted for presentation at the Society of Social Work and Research (SSWR) annual conference held in Washington, D.C. ( January 2008).
O’Hare, T. & Sherrer, M.V. Correlates of PTSD in male and female community clients.Paper accepted for presentation at the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) annual conference held in San Antonio, Texas ( January 2006).
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR)
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS)
American Red Cross , Northern Vermont Chapter