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Take 5 with Lisa Dalton

Friday, January 21, 2011
Take 5 with Lisa Dalton
By Katie Land, news editor

Composed of a diverse array of faculty, staff and administrators, the Oakland University community is unique, creative, and dedicated. As part of a continuing effort to explore the various roles and lives of our Golden Grizzlies, the News @ OU website presents a new interview series. We invite you to share these stories and “Take 5” with OU.

“Take 5 with Lisa Dalton”

Lisa Dalton is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the associate director of the Social Work program. Lisa joined the Oakland community in 2008, trading in the hot sun over New Mexico State University, as well as her Texas roots, for the many seasons of Michigan. As a social worker, Lisa worked hands on in her field before becoming a teacher and researcher. Her current focus is on the many forms and various people affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

1) What made you decide to choose such a ‘heavy’ topic of study?

When I was the director of a family violence center, I had a number of social work interns who took their work very seriously and who brought the emotions of their work home with them. All of their lives were falling apart. They were each having trouble with their important relationships and found themselves continually in a dark place. I began to look at emerging literature for PTSD and found that all of the interns shared these symptoms.

These symptoms developed after they spent time listening and working with children who had had truly terrible experiences, and the interns could not leave this work behind them. They carried it with them all the time, and it affected the way they viewed the world. That experience caused me to look into research on people in the human services fields – those such as firefighters, law enforcement officers, social workers, nurses, counselors and others - that may be suffering from PTSD.

2) What do you like best about working at Oakland?

The students! It may sound a little cheesy, but it's true. I have had some of the brightest and best students of my career here. I have also had a number of students who faced tremendous obstacles and had to struggle to meet their goals. They are wonderful to see and interact with. Oakland students are just great.

3) What is your favorite vacation spot?

Anywhere with a beach or where I can ride my motorcycle. Once I brought my bike to Los Angeles and rode down the California coastline on the Highway One. Those were the best three weeks of my life.

4) Have you had any unique experiences while working in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology?

I love the rocking fifth floor of Varner! I was surprised at how many of my colleagues have become my real friends. It is an incredibly warm, supportive environment, which is rare in academia. We spend time together, care about each other. We’re friends.

5) Are you currently conducting any research in your field?

Currently, I am looking at how to incorporate the ideas of "self care" for social workers into the national curriculum. To be a social worker, there are many general concepts, ideas and guidelines that are standard teachings, but self care is not among them right now. Self care is determined on an individual basis and is simply about self replenishment. People in the human services fields often get burned out, and really need to remember to take care of themselves emotionally and physically. It can be anything that makes you feel better. Listening to music, doing yoga, meditation or anything that helps to replenish you as a person.

Along with Maria Beam, our OU coordinator for field practices, I have given a national presentation and am working in the field to teach about the importance of self care. We are conducting PTSD studies and research with other schools as well.

To read other "Take 5" interviews, view the website at