University of Texas Visual Media & Qualitative Inquiry Research Team

Individual Research Team Member Biographies


Iris Cahill.jpg

Iris Cahill Casiano
Doctoral Student, Counseling Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
With an academic and professional background in the arts, I am interested in the use of visual arts and media as a platform for personal and social healing. My current focus is on the consideration of non-traditional settings, such as museums and galleries, as spaces for therapeutic processes which support the development of personal and cross-cultural understanding, nurture empathy, complement professional development, and promote overall psychological well-being. I am especially interested in applications for arts-based therapies within multicultural counseling, such as the creation of personal and cultural identity in Hispanic and multi-ethnic communities and the development healthy interpersonal relationships in diverse settings.  My goal is to continue  research in arts-based counseling and practice as a licensed psychologist. 
Personal Interests: traveling, yoga, guitar, drawing/painting, exploring Austin and, of course, enjoying good food!
B.F.A. 2011, Fine Art, University of Texas at San Antonio,
B.A. 2011, Art History and Criticism, University of Texas at San Antonio,
M.A. 2013, History of Art and Architecture, Boston University


Andrew Costigian
Doctoral Student, Human Development, Culture, Learning & Society
University of Texas at Austin
Prior to attending UT, I worked as a special education teacher and language therapist. My dissertation explores self-compassion as a psychological resource for adolescents with dyslexia and the teachers who work with them. I am using video to conduct and articulate research while working on various projects with our research team. I am involved in several on-campus and local organizations addressing the role of higher education in the face of pressing contemporary challenges, namely inequality and environmental degradation. My ideal career involves teaching and research that integrates the local community. My hobbies include running, backpacking, travel, music and video production.
Undergraduate:  Vassar College (B. A., English)
Graduate: Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (M.Ed., Educational Psychology).



Crystal Guevara
Doctoral Student, Counseling Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
My research and clinical interests are the phenomena of migration, acculturation, and globalization. In particular I seek to understand an individual’s immigration experience and its impact on identity formation as well as challenges presented during acculturation. Specific populations of interest are immigrant youth, also known as the 1.5 generation, and immigrant women who experience trauma and violence in their country of origin, immigration journey, and further unique challenges in the host country due to gender. My practicum work involves group counseling for immigrant women currently held at a Texas detention center.  My aim is to perform field research and explore how policy and social attitudes toward immigration affect an individual’s development. In addition, I am interested in using qualitative and quantitative data to explore common experiences among this population to better serve them during therapy.




Amal Kouttab
Doctoral Student, Counseling Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
My primary research interests include early attachment and anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addressing stigma around mental health issues through popular education and new media. For several years I worked in a variety of community-based settings as a creative arts therapist, substance abuse counselor, group facilitator, and prevention education and outreach coordinator.  

I also worked with small businesses, universities, performing artists, and non-profit organizations to create short educational films, documentaries, promotional videos, and websites.




Leslie Lewis
Doctoral Student, Counseling Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
I would like to work with human trafficking victims in my research endeavors. In particular, I'm interested in the multi-faceted trauma that human trafficking victims face and the long-term effects that this very particular type of abuse has on its victims. I would like to use a combination of art and narrative therapy to give human trafficking victims a platform to tell their story and then use the art created to advocate social change. I want to do research that improves counseling for victims of multi-layered abuse.   My goal is to pursue a career in both counseling and research and to advocate for my client base, using my research to promote social change.
Personal Interests: Photography, reading, traveling, being outdoors, dancing, eating as much queso as possible, and my beautiful dog, Theo.
Undergraduate: Abilene Christian University, B.S. in Psychology with minors in English and Ethnic & Women's Studies



Hannah McDermott.jpg

Hannah McDermott
Doctoral Student, Counseling Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
I am interested in the individual and community effect of trauma and structural inequity and their impact on identity.  In particular, I am interested in conceptualizing incarceration as a form of trauma and exploring the experiences of formerly incarcerated women as they reenter society.  Other interests include exposure to violence (including sexual, domestic and community violence), homelessness and housing instability.  I am interested in feminist and multicultural counseling as frameworks through which to understand these experiences.  I want to use qualitative and mixed-methods research methodologies to explore these experiences and use media to create interventions that function at both the level of the impacted individual(s) and the wider community.  My goal is to pursue career opportunities in research and clinical practice
Personal Interests: Hiking, biking and rafting the desert southwest, pie-making, skiing, and my dog, Lola! 
Undergraduate: Wesleyan University, B.A.  English and Spanish


David Rosenblatt.jpg

David Rosenblatt
Doctoral Student, Counseling Psychology
University of Texas at Austin
For the last fifteen years I have been studying and practicing the communication of narratives as a professional film editor.  In this roll I contributed to two Academy Award winning films, and was fortunate enough to work with a diverse group of exceptional storytellers.  The roll of an editor encompasses the breadth of both the scientific-technical, and emotional-creative characteristics of filmmaking.  I was drawn into the field by that balance of discipline.  In recent years I have focused editing documentary films, and the challenge of communicating personal narratives and perspectives to a diverse, and growing audiences.  As a counselor in training I find a great deal of this experience informs both my approach to counseling, and conversely the tremendous addition counseling has made to my filmmaking.