alvin thomas headshot

Alvin Thomas

Assistant Professor
Human Development and Family Studies Department; Human Development and Family Studies Major
Office 4103
“It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken adults (men).”

–Frederick Douglass

I am a clinical psychologist focused on the risk and protective factors for boys situated in conditions that imperil them toward negative outcomes. My work exists at the intersection of positive child and youth development and father involvement. More broadly, I also research ethnic identity, father-son engagement and relationships, and mental health in men and boys. I focus on risks and protections for Black children and youth, especially boys, and explore outcomes including violence, grades, and well-being. I am interested in influencing fatherhood policy to highlight the efficacy of father involvement for Black and underrepresented families and for fathers across other contexts. Currently, I am exploring gaps in diversity training specifically related to father (non-resident) involvement in service provision to their children, as well as aggressive behavior, social media use, and police interactions for Black youth.

I am an alumni fellow of the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course and the Health Equity Leadership Institute, and my work has earned numerous awards, including the Rackham International Student Fellowship, Patricia Gurin Research Award, Center for the Education of Women Graduate Scholarship (first man to receive an award from the Center in its 40-year history), and the Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, the last of which I used to pilot an intervention aimed at addressing the mental health needs of juveniles in state custody on a Caribbean island.

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PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Michigan
MS, Clinical Psychology, University of Michigan
BA (Summa Cum Laude), Psychology, Morehouse College

Recent press

SoHE and CommNS to partner on 3 new Wisconsin Partnership Program grants, SoHE News, Oct 19, 2020
The mental health toll of current events, Milwaukee Courier, June 19, 2020
[Op-ed] Black men and boys are especially vulnerable to mental health challenges because of coronavirus and police violence, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 18, 2020
Racial disparities heightened with COVID-19 crisis, Cap Times, May 13, 2020
Health leaders to host virtual support group for Black men concerned about COVID-19, Cap Times, Apr 16, 2020
Q&A: Dr. Alvin Thomas on Black men’s mental health resources, SoHE News, June 5, 2020
Black community leaders address disparities as COVID-19 hits African-Americans hard, WKOW 27 News, Apr 8, 2020
Facebook Live Support Group will address Black men’s mental health and well-being during COVID-19 pandemic, Madison365, Apr 2, 2020

Social Media

Twitter: @Dr_AT758

* Khahra, A., Thomas, A., *Beasley, C., *Caffery, S., Hudson Banks, K., & Kohn-Wood, L. (2019). Hope Springs Eternal: Moderation of the link between discrimination experiences and Depressive symptoms among African American Emerging Adults, Journal of Black Psychology. (In Press)

Hoggard, L.S., Vanessa, V., Thomas, A., Wallace, E., Ellis, K., (2019). The Role of Emotional Eating in the Links between Racial Discrimination and Physical and Mental Health. Social Science & Medicine (In Press)

Assari, S., Thomas, A., Caldwell, C.H., Mincy, R.B. (2018). Blacks’ Diminished Health Return of Family Structure and Socioeconomic Status; 15 Years of Follow-up of a National Urban Sample of Youth. Journal of Urban Health. 95(1), 21–35.

Thomas, A. (2017). Our Throw Away Children: Extending and Developing Interventions in the Caribbean; Working with High Risk Populations. Caribbean Journal of Psychology, (9)1, 72–96.

Thomas, A., Caldwell, C.H., Assari, S., Jagers, J., Flay, B. (2016). You do what you see: how witnessing physical violence is linked to violent behavior among male African American adolescents. Journal of Men’s Studies, DOI: 10.1177/1060826516641104.

Thomas, A, Caldwell, H.C., Jagers, R., Flay, B. (2016). It’s in my hood- Perception of neighborhood safety in African-American boys. Journal of Community Psychology, 44(3), 311–326.

Thomas, A., & Kohn-Wood, L. (2014). Chill, Be Cool Man: African-American Men, Identity, Coping and Aggressive Ideation. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Aug 4 , 2014, No Pagination Specified. doi: 10.1037/a0037545 (In Press)

Miller, E. L., Grabell, A., Thomas, A., Bermann, E. & Graham-Bermann, A. S. (2012). Child Abuse, Maternal Depression, Gender and Violent Television Contribute to Sibling Aggression. Psychology of Violence, 2(2), 165-178.

Thomas, A., Caldwell, C., and DeLoney, H.E . (2011). Black Like Me: The Race Socialization of African American Boys by Nonresident Fathers. In Sullivan, J.M. & Esmail, A. (Eds.), African American Racial Identity: A Research Exploration Across Disciplines (249-272). Maryland: Lexington Books.