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Camille Wortman

Camille Wortman

Camille B. Wortman, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at Stony Brook University in New York. For the past 15 years, she has served as the director of the Social and Health Psychology Graduate Training Program at Stony Brook. Her research focuses on bereavement, with an emphasis on how people react to the sudden, traumatic death of a loved one. She received the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution in Psychology from the American Psychological Association for this work. Her work has been featured in such media outlets as The New York Times, CBS This Morning, NPR (National Public Radio), USA Today, PBS (The Public Broadcasting System), The Washington Post, Scientific American, The BBC (The British Broadcasting Corporation), Psychology Today, The Associated Press, and many others.

Dr. Wortman received her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1972. She was a faculty member at Northwestern University for over five years, and at the University of Michigan for over a decade. During the past several years, she has completed two large-scale prospective studies of conjugal loss, one of which includes psychological, physiological and cognitive measures. She has also completed several studies on how people react to the sudden, unexpected death of a family member. This research was funded both by federal agencies (e.g., the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health) and private foundations (e.g., the MacArthur Foundation, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). These studies provide clear evidence that compared to control respondents, those who experience the sudden, traumatic loss of a spouse or child show enduring difficulties in nearly all areas of their lives. On the basis of these studies, Dr. Wortman received an award from the Science Directorate at the American Psychological Association and the National Science Foundation. This award was designed to recognize the achievements of women in science.

Dr. Wortman has authored four books and more than 100 articles and book chapters, most dealing with grief and loss. She has been invited to speak at numerous institutions of higher learning including Stanford University, Ohio State University, Yale University, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, and many others. She has been asked to present her work at many national conferences, as well as to governmental agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. She has also been invited to speak at international conferences in many countries, including France, Italy, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden and Norway.

Following the September 11 catastrophe, Dr. Wortman was contacted by administrators at three New York universities, and was asked to offer a workshop on the treatment of traumatic bereavement. This treatment program, which was featured in the New York Times, was designed to prepare therapists for working with people who had lost a loved one as a result of 9/11. During that time, Dr. Wortman was also asked to provide assistance to a non-profit organization called Trial Lawyers Care. This organization offered free legal services to those who lost loved ones in the attacks. Dr. Wortman coauthored a position paper on the long-term effects of experiencing the sudden, traumatic death of a loved one. This paper was utilized by Special Master Kenneth Feinberg in determining awards for those who lost family members on September 11. On the basis of this work, she received a service award from the Board of Directors of Trial Lawyers Care for providing “Assistance to families who lost loved ones in the attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Dr. Wortman has been invited to develop educational materials on trauma and loss for several websites, including those of the American Psychological Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Over the past few years, she has also volunteered her time to help develop a website on grief and loss for the Public Broadcasting System. She wrote a number of blogs for that website on such topics as how to offer support to the bereaved, and getting through the holidays.

As a University Professor, an important aspect of Dr. Wortman’s job involves teaching. At every college at which she has taught, Dr. Wortman has received recognition for her teaching and awards for teaching excellence. Her most recent award, which was received from the Psychology Department at Stony Brook in May of 2013, was for Teacher of the Year This award is based on the votes of graduating seniors, who are asked to identify the professor who has inspired them the most. In addition to teaching college students, she has been invited to give lectures, presentations, and workshops to such groups as Hospice and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

In addition to publishing research articles on sudden, traumatic loss, Dr. Wortman has a strong commitment to writing articles and books for therapists. Her goal has been to help therapists attain a more accurate understanding of the ramifications of traumatic loss so that they can offer more effective treatment to this population. She has recently completed a book with Laurie Pearlman and Therese Rando entitled, “Traumatic Bereavement: A Practitioner’s Guide”, which was published by Guilford Press in 2014.

Primary Interests:

  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Causal Attribution
  • Close Relationships
  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Health Psychology
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Personality, Individual Differences

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  • Carr, D., Nesse, R., & Wortman, C. B. (2006). Spousal bereavement in late life. New York: Springer.
  • Pearlman, L. A., Wortman, C. B., Feuer, C., Farber, C., & Rando, T. (in press). Traumatic bereavement: A practitioner’s guide. New York: Guilford Press.

Journal Articles:

  • Bonanno, G. A., Wortman, C. B., Lehman, D., Tweed, R., Sonnega, J., Carr, D., & Nesse, R. (2002). Resilience to loss and chronic grief: A prospective study from preloss to 18-months postloss. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1150-1164.
  • Carnelley, K. B., Wortman, C. B., Bolger, N., & Burke, C. T. (2006). The time course of grief reactions to spousal loss: Evidence from a national probability sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 476-492.
  • Lehman, D. R., Wortman, C. B., & Williams, A. F. (1987). Long-term effects of losing a spouse or child in a motor vehicle crash. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 218-231. Excerpted in Maddvocate (1990), 3, 13.
  • Prigerson, H. G., Horowitz, M. J., Jacobs, S. C., Parkes, C. M., Asian, M., Goodkin, K., Raphael, B., Marwitt, S. J., Wortman, C., Neimeyer, R. A., Bonanno, G., Block, S. D., Kissane, D., Boelen, P., Maercker, A., Litz, B. T., Johnson, J. G., First, M. B., & Maciejewski, P. K. (2009). Prolonged grief disorder: Psychometric validation of criteria proposed for DSM- V and ICD-11, PLoS Med, 6(8), e100021.
  • Silver, R. C., & Wortman, C. B. (2007). The stage theory of grief. JAMA, Letters Section, 297, 2692.
  • Wortman, C. B., & Silver, R. C. (1989). The myths of coping with loss. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 349-357.

Other Publications:

  • Pearlman, L., Wortman, C. B., Feuer, C., Farber, C., & Rando,T. (2012). Traumatic bereavement. In C. Figley (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Trauma (pp. 750-754). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Wortman, C. B., & Boerner, K. (2011). The myths of coping with loss: What the scientific evidence tells us. In H. Friedman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of health psychology (pp. 441- 479). New York: Oxford University Press.

Courses Taught:

  • Health Psychology
  • Teaching of Psychology

Camille Wortman
Department of Psychology
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, New York 11794-2500
United States

  • Phone: (631) 632-7829
  • Fax: (631) 689-5902

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