Three Questions with Mark Vosvick, UNT Assoc. Professor of Counseling Psychology
Three Questions is an initiative to share the value that our faculty, students, and others in the UNT community derive from using the Unique Collections at UNT Libraries.
How important are Unique Collections in your teaching, learning or research?
The UNT LGBT Archive of the South is an important collection of primary source documents for my teaching and research. As the director the LGBT Studies Program at UNT, the Archive is a resource I send students to who are preparing for various classes that address issues relevant to sexual and gender minorities, particularly here in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. I teach two seminar courses, Biopsychosocial Issues in HIV/AIDS and Psychosocial Issues in LGBT Communities, in the Psychology department that prepares psychology majors and doctoral students to better work in the future with sexual and gender minorities by exploring the social, psychological and environmental complexities faced by members of these communities. The Archive provides a window for students into the realities of living in the South for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. The resource is invaluable to students who want to gain a deeper understanding of the stressors and barriers to care that this community experiences.
As the director of the UNT Center for Psychosocial Health Research, my research program focuses on psychological and social health of people living with HIV/AIDS and/or people who identify as a sexual or gender minority. The rich material in the Archive provides context to my researchers about the populations here in DFW that we study. As more material in the collection is digitized access to these materials for research purposes is enhanced. Understanding the day-to-day circumstances that LGBT people experience in the South help researchers better develop interventions tailored to the communities here in DFW.
How have Unique Collections changed the way you approach your research, teaching or learning?
Most importantly, the LGBT Archive of the South allows students, researchers and healthcare providers to access material that documents the unique negative and positive experiences, over time, that members of the LGBT communities experience. Just as historically health researchers studied men and then inappropriately generalized findings to women, much research in the U.S. that draws samples from the U.S. coastal cities, ignores the geographic and cultural differences that sexual and gender minorities experience. The Archive can facilitate researchers and healthcare providers gaining insight into the unique factors (e.g. southern conservatism, the bible belt) that require LGBT communities to develop specialized coping strategies to manage the stressors associated with living in the South. Additionally, the creative ways documented in the Archive in which these communities have developed resilience to minority stress can offer important lessons for developing interventions that can be effective. The geographic and cultural influences to the psychological and social wellness has not been carefully studied and the Archive is an excellent resource to clarify the relevance of Southern living for LGBT people.
What do you want others to know about your research?
Now that people living with HIV/AIDS are living longer and enjoying more full lives, quality of life becomes an important dimension to target. The Center for Psychosocial Health Research explores how quality of life can be enhanced by managing stress, developing resilience and improving overall wellness.Similarly, we conduct research in communities closely tied to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. – the LGBT and ethnic/racial communities. We are finding that the day-to-day stressors of living as a minority, regardless of seropositive status, are important contributors to wellness in these communities. Our objective is to identify factors that may be ameliorated through targeted interventions for these communities to improve overall quality of life.
Dr. Mark Vosvick is a behavioral scientist and associate professor of counseling psychology in UNT’s College of Arts and Sciences. Vosvick trained at Yale, Rutgers, Harvard, Stanford and the Medical College of Wisconsin before coming to UNT. As a health psychologist, he directs the Center for Psychosocial Health Research, which is touted as the only Center of its kind in the South.Under his leadership, the Center trains undergraduate and graduate students in the behavioral sciences related to health and wellness in ethnic, racial, gender and sexual minority communities and provides education on HIV/AIDS research locally, nationally, and internationally.
In 2009, Vosvick became the co-director of UNT’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies Program which enables students to explore the role of gender and sexual minorities in modern society across diverse disciplines. He also was instrumental in the UNT Libraries’ acquisition of the archives of the Resource Center Dallas (RCD), a major collection tracing 60 years of the history of the LGBT social movements in the North Texas region. The collection, the UNT LGBT Archive of the South, constitutes the largest single archive of this kind in existence.