Dr. Kimberly Zlomke
“If I walked away from academia/psychology now, I would be a travel agent. I love to travel; and even more than travel, I love to plan travel.” These are the words of Dr. Kimberly Zlomke, Professor of Psychology. Luckily for the College of Arts & Sciences, Zlomke is happily ensconced in her department, where she researches parent-child interactions across childhood and in various pediatric populations and is a core faculty member in the doctoral program in Clinical and Counseling Psychology (CCP).
Zlomke joined the Department of Psychology in August 2010 as an Assistant Professor after completing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Louisiana State University. She completed her clinical residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in the Department of Pediatrics/Psychology and was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital in the Adolescent Medicine section.
At USA, Zlomke has produced numerous peer-reviewed publications, and she is close to completing research on a long-term intervention study focused on parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Her concern, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), is an intervention which aims to alter parent-child interaction to improve positive parenting skills, consistency in consequence, and child behavior. Zlomke has already published some of the findings from this project and expects more publications from the data. Along with Dr. Brenda Beverly, USA Speech Pathology & Audiology, Zlomke co-authored a chapter in the Handbook of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Children on the Autism Spectrum.
Dr. Zlomke’s more recent investigations are moving away from direct intervention with children and parents. According to Zlomke, “A newer direction for my research is examining the quality of life (QOL) and health outcomes of caregivers of children with special healthcare needs such as autism spectrum disorder. My lab is starting a national study to examine QOL and predictors of QOL in caregivers using an innovative mobile application.” Additional on-going projects are examining perceptions of care for behavioral health care within pediatric primary care and family interactions around food/eating in children with a history of pediatric cancer.
Teaching is also very important to Zlomke. She loves to teach the graduate Clinical Health Psychology class, which functions as a capstone course in the Clinical and Counseling Psychology doctoral program. According to Zlomke, it is wonderful to teach students who are completing their training because you can see the development they have undergone since first entering the graduate program. Zlomke is looking forward to teaching the undergraduate course on Parent-Child Relations this fall for the first time. She plans to develop a study-abroad offering for summer 2021, focusing on cultural aspects of child development and family relationships.
When asked about how her interest in psychology developed, Zlomke says the discipline runs in her family. Indeed, her father was a psychologist. Growing up in rural southeast Nebraska, she says there was not a lot of discussion about careers among her high school classmates. While an undergraduate at St. Louis University, Zlomke began to zero in on the type of psychologist she hoped to become. Undergraduate research in Applied Behavioral Analysis particularly engaged her and subsequently guided her academic choices.
When asked about the benefits of students choosing Psychology as their major, Zlomke is not at a loss for words. She truly believes that being a Psychology major can make students better people. She explains, “Not only are they provided with a broad education across many aspects of psychology, so many of our courses include personal reflections and push students to get outside of their comfort zone to take the perspectives of others.” She adds that the Psychology curriculum inculcates in students “both soft-skills (people skills) as well as transferable skills to many other professions, such as managerial or customer service fields.”
In addition to her work with the Ph.D. Program in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Zlomke collaborates with the Department of Pediatrics. Along with her graduate student in the CCP program, her team provides consultation services to a number of sub-specialty clinics in pediatrics. Another way that she contributes to the Department of Pediatrics is through the training of pediatric residents. Zlomke provides a monthly lecture on psychosocial and behavioral topics.
If Dr. Zlomke’s teaching and research were not enough to keep her busy, she also serves as the Director of the USA Psychology Clinic. The Psychology Clinic is the primary training location for 30 doctoral students in the CCP. Each year, clinicians provide more than 3,000 hours of services to members of the USA and greater Mobile communities. In the current year, 275 individuals are receiving either counseling or psychological assessments within the USA Psychology Clinic.
With all of these roles within USA, Dr. Zlomke does try to find time for self-care. Due to her love of travel, Zlomke and her family avail themselves of as many opportunities as possible to visit other places. Since it is nearby, she and her husband and two daughters visit New Orleans often and have a beach condominium for short get-a-ways. At home, her two daughters keep her busy. Zlomke enjoys cooking with her 6-year-old. Her 8-year-old is a competitive gymnast; so, as you can imagine, she spends lots of time sitting in the bleachers at practices and competitions.