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Doctoral Candidate Tackling Black Health Disparities

decorative photo of Dogan
UK counseling psychology doctoral candidate Jardin Dogan’s research is helping to eliminate mental, social and sexual health disparities for Black people.

By Elizabeth Chapin

Jardin Dogan says her clinical practice and own life experiences have inspired her research, which is helping to eliminate mental, social and sexual health disparities for Black people.

The counseling psychology doctoral candidate in the University of Kentucky’s College of Education counsels people who are experiencing mental health issues from racial trauma, substance abuse and criminal justice involvement.

“I have dealt with some of the same struggles within my own family,” said Dogan. “The truth is that many Black people are directly or indirectly impacted by these issues, but they remain taboo. Working with my clients has informed my research, which I hope will open up the dialogue on some of these issues no one really talks about.”

During her time at UK, Dogan has conducted research on topics including substance use and incarceration, identity, race-based stress and racial trauma, and Black intimacies and sexualities. She was recently honored with the UK Center for Health Equity Transformation’s (CHET) Equity Changemaker Award for her research and its impact on racial health equity.

Under the guidance of College of Education faculty mentors including Candice Hargons, Ph.D., and Danelle Stevens-Watkins, Ph.D., her scholarly work has resulted in more than 12 studies, which have been published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Dogan has led or participated in research including studies on the association of cannabis use with race-related stress among incarcerated Black men, the exploration of Black teens’ experiences of racial identity, and power dynamics in sexual encounters of Black college students. These studies provide counseling considerations to increase mental, social and sexual wellness for Black people.

Dogan is dedicated to making her research more relevant and accessible through community outreach and social media. She shares mental health research for Black people on her Instagram account, @blkfolxtherapy, which reaches more than one million people. Since March, she has hosted seven virtual mental health and self-care workshops for Black people who are navigating synergistic pandemics of COVID-19 and anti-Black racism.

“Community work is really where I find the most joy,” Dogan said. “I work with some of the most prohibited Black populations who typically don’t have access to academic research, so being able to broadcast and disseminate this information to people that may not otherwise see it is fulfilling a need.”

Dogan’s research experience has also helped guide her counseling psychology practice. She says the clinical experience she has gained at UK has allowed her to connect with the local community.

Dogan currently conducts assessments with patients at the Lexington VA Health Care System and provides clinical services to Black and Brown clients at the Center for Healing Racial Trauma, which was founded by her mentor Candice Hargons, Ph.D. She also serves as a counselor for participants in a National Institute of Drug Abuse study being led by UK College of Medicine Professor William Stoops, Ph.D. This summer, she will begin a year-long internship with the Federal Medical Center in Lexington while completing her dissertation.

After earning her doctorate, Dogan plans to join the professoriate to continue her research on Black health inequities and start a clinical practice to provide therapy services for people who were formerly incarcerated.

“Many counseling psychologists either conduct research or do clinical practice because it’s hard to prioritize both,” said Dogan. “UK has helped bridge that gap for me.”