Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Laurel M. Hicks

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Laurel is PhD candidate pursing a dual-title degree in Clinical Social Work and Infant Mental Health. Her primary research interest is the utilization and effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in improving mental health, and parent-infant outcomes in urban pregnant women and new parents. A secondary interest is understanding the effects of trauma on physiological and psychological stress responses and how this effects the health of both mothers and fathers during antenatal and postnatal periods. 

Areas of Expertise
  • Clinical Interventions
  • Perinatal Mental Health
  • Infant Mental Health
  • Mindfulness Interventions
  • Yoga Interventions
  • Birth Trauma
Research Focus

 Perinatal mental health, infant mental health, child welfare, mindfulness interventions, physiological effects of stress, trauma-informed care, secondary trauma

Training Offered

Mindfulness Based Interventions in the Perinatal Period

Mindfulness for Stress Reduction

Mindful Parenting


Courses Taught

 SW 6991: Mind, Body, Spirit Approaches in Social Work Practice


Ph.D. in Social Work (Clinical Concentration) and Infant Mental Health (expected graduation May 2017)

Master of Social Work, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON


·       09/2016 – Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Education Professional Training

·       07/2015 – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Training

·       06/2014 – Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia – Data Collection and Analysis

·       09/2013 – Working Model of the Child Interview Coding Training

·       08/2013 – Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

·       05/2013 – Mindful Schools Curriculum Training

·       10/2012 – Non-Violent Communication Training

·       09/2011 – Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Training

·       09/2011 – Alive! Canada Suicide Prevention Training

·       09/2011 – Therapeutic Story Telling for Children

·       05/2010 – Teaching Yoga to At-Risk Populations Training, taught by Hala Khouri LC

·       02/2008 – Off the Mat into the World, Leadership Training Intensive, NYC by Seane Corn

·       09/2008 – Reiki Training and Certification – Level 1 (Healing Touch Therapy)

Research Project Title
Improving Mental Health, Birth and Maternal Outcomes in Detroit Mothers - A Mindfulness-Based Intervention

BlueCross BlueShield of Michigan - Student Research Award "Improving Mental Health, Birth and Maternal Outcomes in Detroit Mothers - A Mindfulness-Based Intervention"

Honors and Awards

2016, 2015, 2014                      Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Predoctoral Fellow, Wayne State University.

2016                                          Mind Life Summer Research Institute Research Fellow

2015                                          1st place poster – Wayne State University Graduate Exhibition

2014                                          Wayne State University, School of Social Work Travel Award

2015, 2014                                Merrill Palmer Skillman Travel Award

2014                                          Blackstone Launch Pad, Mobile App Competition: Best Non-WSU based app, Wayne State University

2014                                          Thomas C. Rumble Fellowship Development of Research and Scholarship Award, Wayne State University. Presented to doctoral student who shows high promise in research and scholarship. Provides tuition and $16,000 stipend.

2014                                          Wayne State Graduate School External Funding Application Award

2013                                          Thomas C. Rumble Fellowship Recruitment Award, Wayne State University. Presented to outstanding new doctoral recruit. Provides tuition and $16,000 stipend.

2011                                          Graduate Professional Scholarship, Wayne State University. Presented to outstanding academic graduate students who show promise in research.

2011                                          Metro Canadian Scholarship

2011                                          Elizabeth Brehler Scholarship Finalist

2011                                          Yale Child Study Centre Post-Grad MSW Fellowship Finalist

2011                                          Phi Alpha Honor Society – Chapter Omicron Omicron

2011                                          Golden Key International Honor Society





Dayton, C., Matthews, W., Hicks, L. M., Malone, J. (2017). The expression of music throughout the Lives of expectant Detroit parents. Journal of the Psychology of Music.


Brown, S., Victor, B., Hicks, L. M., & Tracy, E. M. (2016). Recovery support mediates the relationship between parental warmth and quality of life among women with substance use disorders. Journal of Quality of life research, 1-9. 


Brown, S., Hicks, L. M., & Tracy, E. M. (2016). Parenting Efficacy and Support in Mothers with Dual Disorders in a Substance Abuse Treatment Program. Journal of dual diagnosis(just-accepted), 00-00. doi:10.1080/15504263.2016.1247998


Dayton, C. J., Buczkowski, R., Muzik, M., Goletz, J., Hicks, L., Walsh, T. B., & Bocknek, E. L. (2016). Expectant fathers’ beliefs and expectations about fathering as they prepare to parent a new infant. Journal of Social Work Research, 40(4), 225-236. doi:10.1093/swr/svw017


Gonzalez-Prendes, A. A., Hicks, L. M. (2016). “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” Oxford Bibliographies in Social Work. Ed. Edward J. Mullen. New York: Oxford University Press.




Hicks, L. M., Dayton, C. J., Brown, S., Muzik, M. (revise and resubmit). Dispositional Mindfulness Moderates Depression and Quality of Parental Bonding in Urban Expectant Parents. Journal of Mindfulness.


Dayton, C. J., Johnson, A., Hicks, L. M., Goletz, J., Green, K., Primuse, T. Sex Differences in the Social Ecology of Breastfeeding:  A Mixed Methods Analysis of Breastfeeding Views of Expectant Mothers and Fathers. Submitted to Journal of Parenting: Science and Practice 02/2017.


Day, A., Curtis, A., Paul, R., Chenyang, S., Hicks, L. M., Quist, L, Jianrattanasawat, L. Predictors of Early Pregnancy, Access to Timely and Adequate Prenatal Care and Delivery Services among Female Youth in Foster Care: An Analysis of Medicaid Claims Data. Submitted to Journal of Pediatrics 02/2017.



Hicks, L. M. Mental Health and Mindfulness in Low-SES Expectant Parents.

Hicks, L. M. Trauma History, Mindfulness and Potential for Future Child Abuse in Parents-to-be.

Hicks, L. M. Connections between Mindfulness and Expectant Parents’ Physiological Stress Response to a Baby’s Cry.


Hicks, L. M., Dayton, C., Muzik, M. (invited for publication) Mind-body Interventions in Trauma Exposed Populations. Will submit before July 2017 to Integrative Medicine Insights.


Muzik, M., Hicks, L. M., Brookens-Harvey, B. Mindful yoga in pregnancy. In I. Ivtzan, The Handbook of Mindfulness-Based Programs: Every Established Intervention, from Medicine to Education: Routledge Press.


Dayton, C., Hicks, L. M., Martinez-Torteya, C., Basu, A., Muzik, M., Brown, S.  Cortisol response to a parenting stress stimulus in violence-exposed expectant mothers and fathers.


Brown, S., Dayton, C. J., Hicks, L. M., MacWilliams, M. J., Junquist, A. Making It Real: Prenatal, Relationship-Based Interviews with Pregnant Women Exposed to Environmental Risk.


Brophy-Herb, H., Stacks, A., Hicks, L. M., Wong, K. Reflective Functioning, Mind-Mindedness and Mindfulness.


Dayton, C., Hicks, L. M., Swain, J. The implications of new parenting neurobiology findings on infant mental health practice.