Althought Therapy

Meet Dr. Samantha Awalt, PhD

“I have extensive research training in cognition, exploring how we think and why we do the things we do, as well as in early life experiences and their impact on our individual outcomes in adulthood. I studied maternal stress during the perinatal period (from pregnancy to postpartum), how early life experiences can alter the way our genes are read and function (epigenetics), and the attachment styles between parents and their children. Additionally, I have conducted research on how early life stress or trauma can fundamentally alter our ability to regulate stress from childhood through adulthood.

With my diverse research training in early life experiences, hormonal regulation, epigenetics, maternal stress, cognition, and attachment patterns, I take a holistic, biopsychosocial perspective towards my clients. What does this mean specifically? When we sit down together, I aim to gain a thorough understanding of what has shaped you into the person you are. Every individual has a unique set of experiences, and I don’t adhere to a one-size-fits-all therapeutic protocol. In other words, I believe in a personalized approach. When working with me, you can expect to delve into a comprehensive exploration of your childhood, discuss any major life events that have impacted you, and examine how you think and respond in your daily life. Whether you come to me as an individual, a couple, or a family, we will take a panoramic view of your life or lives to identify the root of the issues that are causing you distress and then set goals together to address them.

What will it feel like to work with me? First and foremost, I bring a strong sense of compassion into the room. Deciding to engage in therapy isn’t always easy, as it often involves discussing very difficult topics that you may not typically share even with your closest loved ones. Therefore, when you decide to embark on this therapeutic journey with me, you will be entering a judgment-free zone where my sole goal is to support you and the direction you wish to take. I want to assure you that therapy isn’t about the therapist deciding what is best for you; rather, it’s about supporting you on your own personal journey of self-discovery and helping you actualize your dreams.”

Female Psychologist

Dr. Awalt's Creditials

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles by Dr. Awalt

A dog’s life: Early life histories influence methylation of glucocorticoid (NR3C1) and oxytocin (OXTR) receptor genes, cortisol levels, and attachment styles

In our study, we explored dogs as a model to understand parent-infant attachment and the adverse effects of early life stress on both attachment behaviors and physiological changes. Our findings indicate that dogs exposed to stress early in life show significant epigenetic differences compared to those without such experiences. Furthermore, these stressed dogs are more prone to developing insecure attachment styles.

Early life adversity in dogs produces altered physiological and behavioral responses during a social stress-buffering paradigm

In our research, we investigated the behavior of dogs with histories of early life stress when approached by a stranger, analyzing whether the presence of their owner affected their response. This behavior was then compared to that of dogs without such stress histories. Our findings reveal that dogs with early life stress histories exhibit lasting social effects, demonstrating more pronounced behavioral differences than dogs who did not experience early life stress.