ARCH Lab


ARCH Lab Logo

 

                                                                                  spring arch

A bit about the ARCH Lab:

Why an ARCH? An arch is a structure, either man made or natural, designed to support weight through compression under stress. Our research focuses on supporting healthy child development through learning more about coping and resilience in the face of stress. ARCH researchers recognize the importance of parents, caregivers, and families in growing healthy children. We hope our research empowers and supports families so that they can empower and support children. In that way, we like the image of an arch as it not only serves to support, but it serves to bridge. We want our research to build a bridge between science and practice.

What do the words in the ARCH acronym mean?

        Affect: This word has two meanings---and we like that. Affect (verb) means “to have an effect on; make a difference to; to touch the feelings of someone or move emotionally.” Affect (noun) means “emotion, especially as influencing behavior or action.” In the ARCH lab, we’re interested in understanding emotions and how they impact our mental and behavioral health. Emotions are universal—meaning that everyone feels emotions. Emotions are also essential-they help us survive and thrive. Emotions can also cause problems—particularly when we have trouble managing them (see Regulation below). Combined, when we think “affect” we think “to make a difference through understanding and supporting emotional experiences in families.”

       Regulation: Regulation means “to adjust, to manage, to balance.” We regulate the temperature in our house by adjusting the thermostat (or opening a window). Just like adjusting temperature (moving things up or down to find a comfortable balance), we can also regulate our psychological experiences—our emotions, thoughts, bodily feelings, and behaviors. Research in the ARCH lab seeks to understand and promote adaptive emotion regulation, so that one can feel empowered to understand and manage their emotions in a way that promotes balance internally (in our bodies and minds) and externally (in our relationships).

       Coping: “To face and deal with problems or difficulties, particularly in a calm manner.” All families face difficulties. Part of growing up is learning how to cope with difficulties, and one way children learn this is through watching how their families cope. Research in the ARCH lab seeks to better understand how to help families face and overcome challenges with a sense of calm confidence.

When we have safe and stable relationships to rely on, overcoming challenges can lead to learning and growing. Unfortunately, not everyone has safe and stable relationships and most folks will be exposed to at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) across their childhood. This takes us to our final word…Health.

       Health: As ACES go up, so does risk for physical and mental health difficulties. In the ARCH lab, we seek to empower families to understand ACES, how ACES impact parenting, how ACES impact child development, and how to break the cycle of ACES being passed from one generation to the next. We hope our research empowers families to cope in the face of adversity, to build supportive relationships that buffer the impact of stress, and to feel confident in their ability to create a safe environment for healthy family growth.

Current Projects in the Lab:

Religion, Emotions, and Current Health (REACH) Project

           o This project examines college students’ history of stressful life experiences and their current health and health-related behavior. The broad goal of this study is to identify past (from childhood) and current factors that predict mental health symptoms in young adults. This study examines emotional and religious experiences from childhood and adulthood to better understand factors that heighten risk as well as factors that promote resilience in the face of past and current stressors.

Mom Power in Tennessee Project

          o Mom Power is a relationship-based and trauma-informed parenting and self-care skills group designed for mothers and their young children (ages 0-6). Mom Power has been shown to help all sorts of families, but can be particularly helpful for mothers who have been impacted by ACES. Mom Power focuses on promoting family strengths and resilience. The broad aim of the Mom Power project is to determine feasibility and effectiveness of Mom Power with families in Northeast TN. The ARCH lab is excited to partner with Families Free to reach families in the Tri Cities and surrounding areas.

Two Gen: Feeling Better Project

          o This project examines the links between emotions, coping, and health in caregivers and children. It’s called Two Gen because it crosses two generations (caregiver-child) to better understand how to help caregivers feel better (physically and emotionally) so they can help children feel better (physically and emotionally). The ARCH lab is excited about this project because it teaches us and families about how our bodies and minds are connected, and by understanding those connections, we can promote coping across generations. For those who get excited about the nerdy science stuff—this project uses salivary bioscience (aka spit) and electrocardiography (ECG, aka heart rate) to learn more about how children and caregivers respond to stress.

 

Want more information? Please feel free to email the ARCH Lab at ARCHLAB@etsu.edu or use the ARCH Lab direct phone number at 423-439-5014 if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about these projects.

 

Logo art was designed by Sarah Tidwell

Natural arch photographed by David Arnold.