Carryl P. Navalta, Ph.D.

Carryl P. Navalta

Assistant Professor


I received my B.S. in Psychobiology from the University of California-Los Angeles and my M.A. and Doctoral degrees from Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY.


I am a faculty member of Boston University School of Medicine as of January 2012. From 1998 to 2011, I was on the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. I worked during this period as a clinical and research psychologist at Children’s Hospital Boston (2008-2011) and McLean Hospital (1998-2008). Although my general area of expertise is mental health disorders of childhood and adolescence, I have a strong interest in the neurobiological and psychosocial consequences of early psychological trauma as well as effective interventions for such sequelae. To that end, I was an investigator on several NIH grant-funded projects focused on understanding the neurobehavioral effects of childhood maltreatment (e.g., sexual and physical abuse, verbal abuse, witnessing domestic violence). I also served as a researcher on a SAMHSA-funded center devoted to developing, adapting, evaluating, and disseminating effective treatment approaches for traumatized children and youth. Presently, I am a member of the Family Systems Workgroup of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and a research associate at the Trauma Center, which is participating in a multisite field trial to validate the proposed diagnosis, Developmental Trauma Disorder, for inclusion in DSM-V. Clinically, I use a scientist-practitioner framework and provide evidence-based mental health services. Specifically, I conduct applied behavior analysis, behavior and cognitive-behavior therapy (including direct therapeutic exposure), and trauma systems therapy. My overarching mission is to improve the lives of children and adolescents who are either at risk for or already have impairing mental health problems.

Questions and Answers

Q: Please describe your theoretical orientation and teaching philosophy

A: Behavior and cognitive-behavior approaches are the predominant evidence-based interventions for mental health problems during childhood and adolescence. However, the interaction of biological and psychosocial forces drives both typical and atypical human functioning. That is, both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ work in synergy to guide development. As a means to link these issues, I use a developmental psychopathology framework to orient both my research and therapeutic work. This model spans across scientific fields, including psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, and molecular biology, to best inform how children and youth can become impaired and dysfunctional and, in turn, how this maladaptive course can ultimately be redirected toward a normalized developmental trajectory.

Educating the next generation of practitioners is highly important given the public health impact of mental health problems locally, nationally, and globally. Because of this great need, I follow a philosophy of teaching that strives for excellence in students’ critical thinking and clinical savvy as they develop and mature into their future professional lives. To that end, I use a combination of didactic and experiential learning activities to ensure that students gain the necessary knowledge and competencies that they can use to effectively help individuals in need of mental health services and support.

Q: Why did you choose to be faculty in the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine Program?

A: I was exposed early on to the gratifying and meaningful experiences of a career in the ‘helping professions’ because of my father’s identity and work as a physician. Although I began undergraduate studies with the expectation to subsequently attend medical school, I eventually steered toward a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology. This education ‘opened my eyes’ to the equal importance of psychological health and physical well-being. My college experiences also included an introduction to the delivery of mental health services at both ends of the service-setting continuum (i.e., home and inpatient hospital unit), which showed me that psychotherapeutic care can be compassionately and effectively provided regardless of where delivered. Moreover, I had the privilege during this time to meet a preeminent psychologist and psychiatrist who both encouraged me to pursue a doctoral program in psychology that emphasizes excellence in research as well as clinical training. Fortunately, I was accepted to and subsequently attended a program that fostered my development as a mental health professional in the scientist-practitioner tradition. To this day, my professional work in the mental health field continues to align with the definition of psychology and related fields as a “science of human behavior”.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching in the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine Program?

A: As a mid-career Counselor Educator, I believe that I have attained sufficient clinical wisdom to effectively educate the next generation of licensed mental health clinicians. I also strongly feel the duty to pass along what I have learned over the years to my students. Moreover, I become immensely gratified whenever I get that ‘sense’ that my students are truly learning and consequently maturing both personally and professionally. This genuine impact that I can have on future practitioners is what continuously motivates me to teach and what gives me joy.

  • Invited Speaker: Martha Eliot Health Center, Boston, MA. Child behavior Therapy (2011)
  • Invited Speaker: National Child Traumatic Stress Network Grantees Meeting,
  • Baltimore, MD. The Role of the Family in Child Traumatic Stress and its Treatment (2011)
  • Invited Speaker: National Child Traumatic Stress Network Webinar Series, Baltimore, MD. How to Include Families – Effective Models: Treatment Planning Considerations (2011)
  • Invited Speaker: Martha Eliot Health Center, Boston, MA. Pediatric Bipolar Disorder (2010)
  • Invited Speaker: Martha Eliot Health Center, Boston, MA. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (2010)
  • Invited Speaker: Martha Eliot Health Center, Boston, MA. Childhood Trauma (2010)
  • Invited Speaker: College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Argosy University,
  • Honolulu, HI. A Systems Approach to Treating Traumatized Children and their Families (2010)
  • Invited Speaker: Division of Developmental Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston, MA. Exposure to Early Adversity and Neurobehavioral Trajectories: Child Abuse as a Case in Point (2009)
  • Seminar Speaker: Center for Behavioral Science, Children’s Hospital Boston, MA. Trauma Systems Therapy (2009)
  • Pre-Meeting Institute: International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 25th Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA. The Importance of Organizational-Level Factors in the Delivery of Trauma-Informed Interventions (2009).

  • ACA – American Counselors Association 2010 – present
  • AMHCA – American Mental Health Counselors Association 2010 – present

Theory and Practice of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy (GMS MH-717)
Clinical Internship (GMS MH-922)

  • Brown AD, McCauley K, Navalta CP, Saxe GN. Trauma Systems Therapy in residential settings: A focus on emotion regulation and the social environment of traumatized children and youth in acute care. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma (In Press).
  • Saxe G, Ellis BH, Fogler J, Navalta CP. Innovations in Practice: Preliminary evidence for effective family engagement in treatment for child traumatic stress–trauma systems therapy approach to preventing dropout. Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2011 doi: 10.1111/j.1475-3588.2011.00626.x.
  • Ellis BH, Fogler J, Hansen S, Beckman M, Forbes P, Navalta CP, Saxe G. Trauma systems therapy: 15-month outcomes and the importance of effecting environmental change. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, And Policy 2011 doi:10.1037/a0025192.
  • Tomoda A, Sheu Y, Rabi K, Hanako S, Navalta CP, Polcari A, Teicher MH. Exposure to parental verbal abuse is associated with increased gray matter volume in superior temporal gyrus. NeuroImage 2011 54(Suppl 1):S280-286.
  • Navalta CP. Neuropsychological aspects of child abuse and neglect. In AS Davis (ed.), Handbook of pediatric neuropsychology 2011 (pp. 1041-1050). New York, NY: Springer Publishing.
  • Andersen SL, Navalta CP. New frontiers in developmental neuropharmacology: Can long-term therapeutic effects of drugs be optimized through carefully timed early intervention. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2011 52(4):476-503.
  • Tomoda A, Navalta CP, Polcari A, Sadato N, Teicher MH. Childhood sexual abuse is associated with reduced gray matter volume in visual cortex of young women. Biological Psychiatry 2009 66(7):642-648.
  • Teicher MH, Andersen SL, Tomoda A, Navalta CP, Polcari A. Neuropsychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence. In SC Yudofsky & RE Hales (eds.), Textbook of neuropsychiatry 2008 (pp. 1045-1113). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Navalta CP, Tomoda A, Teicher MH. Trajectories of neurobehavioral development: The clinical neuroscience of child abuse. In ML Howe, GS Goodman, & D Cicchetti (eds.), Stress, trauma, and children’s memory development: Neurobiological, cognitive, and clinical perspectives 2008 (pp. 50-82). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Navalta CP, Ashy M, Teicher MH. Emotional trauma. In G Reyes, J Elhai, & J Ford (eds.), Encyclopedia of psychological trauma 2008 (pp. 246-249). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Navalta CP, Goldstein J, Ruegg L, Perna DA, Frazier JA. Integrating treatment and education for mood disorders: a youth case report. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry 2006 11(4):555-568.
  • Navalta CP, Polcari A, Webster DM, Boghossian A, Glod CA, Teicher MH. Effects of childhood sexual abuse on neuropsychological and cognitive function of young adult college students. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2006 18(1):45-53.