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Isha Metzger

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Adjunct Assistant Professor
Clinical Program, Director, The EMPOWER Lab
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Director, The EMPOWER Lab

Dr. Metzger IS NO LONGER reviewing applications for the admission of Clinical Psychology graduate students at UGA.


2015  Doctor of Philosophy, University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC    

2011  Masters of Arts, University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC    

2008  Bachelor of Arts, Georgia State University; Atlanta, GA   

Research Interests:

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My research focuses on reducing mental health disparities through increasing engagement and enhancing mental health treatment outcomes among underserved minority populations (e.g., African Americans). Specifically, I am interested in preventing engagement in risky behaviors (e.g., sexual activity, alcohol use, delinquency) as well as understanding risk and resilience factors (e.g., trauma experiences, racial socialization and racial discrimination, family and peer relationships) that impact the relation between trauma exposure and problematic outcomes (e.g., STI/HIV exposure, unintended pregnancies, revictimization, drunk-driving accidents, legal system involvement). I also am engaged in translational research including the conceptualization, implementation, dissemination, and systematic evaluation of prevention programming aimed at reducing mental health and health disparities among African American youth.


Current Research Funding


Project NaviGAte: Connecting Georgia to Substance Use and HIV Prevention. Project NaviGAte targets two pervasive public health concerns, HIV and substance misuse among at-risk and underserved communities, specifically trauma-exposed racial/ethnic minorities. Project NaviGAte will provide much needed navigation services, develop a public health messaging and awareness campaign, and enhance HIV and substance misuse screening, prevention and treatment among trauma-exposed racial/ethnic minorities in 4 of the 48 federally-designated “hotspots” hardest hit by the HIV epidemic: Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties in GA.


The Impact of Racial Socialization and Racial Stress on the Association between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Detrimental Outcomes among African American Adolescents. Studies suggest that traumatic experiences (e.g., physical abuse, criminal victimization, witnessing domestic violence) take a disproportionate toll on African American youth than their Caucasian and Hispanic peers. This pilot project aims to test hypotheses regarding risk (e.g., racial discrimination, vicarious racial trauma) and protective (e.g., racial socialization) mechanisms associated with African American youths' adjustment to traumatic and abusive experiences.


Culturally Enhanced Trauma Treatment to Reduce HIV Risk for African American Youth: Integrating Racial Socialization. Creation of a standardized cultural enhancement for existing evidence-based trauma treatments. Integrating racial socialization by clinicians both within (e.g., psychoeducation) and between (e.g., in-vivo, “in real life” assignments) sessions with African American youth and caregivers in order to improve engagement and decrease trauma sequelae (e.g., PTSD, HIV risk) for this population.


Are lifestyle factors contributors to rural youths’ substance abuse vulnerability? Challenging rural environments take a toll on neurocognitive development, undermining the development of decision making skills and affecting substance use vulnerability.  Emerging research also suggests that youths’ development of decision making competencies may be affected by a number of lifestyle factors including sleep, physical activity, food, caffeine, and interactive media. This study focuses on how stressful environments affect substance use via neurocognitive pathways.


A Community Based Participatory Research Approach to Reducing Health Disparities in Service Initiation and Engagement following Trauma Exposure. Mixed methods Community Based Participatory Research Study designed to explore barriers and facilitators to service initiation and engagement, and to identify strategies to address barriers to service engagement among racial/ethnic minority youth and families who are referred to Children’s Advocacy Centers following potential trauma exposure.

Selected Publications:
  • Ritchwood, T., Malo, V., Jones, C., Metzger, I., Atujuna, M., Marcus, R., Conserve, D., Handler, L., & Bekker, L. G. (in press, 2020). What happens after adolescents living with HIV transition to adult care? A systematic review. BMC Public Health.
  • Metzger, I., Anderson, R., Are, F., & Ritchwood, T (in press, 2020). Healing interpersonal and racial trauma: Integrating Racial Socialization into TF-CBT for African American Youth. Child Maltreatment.
  • Metzger, I., Cooper, S., Griffin, C. B., Golden, A., Opara, I., & Ritchwood, T., (in press, 2020). Parenting Profiles of Academic and Racial Socialization: Associations with Academic Engagement and Perception of Academic Ability of African American Adolescents. Journal of School Psychology.
  • Griffin, C. B., Metzger, I., Halliday-Boykins, C., & Salzar, C. (in press, 2020). Exploring Associations Among African American Youths’ Perceptions of School Racial Climate and School Engagement: Does Gender Matter? School Psychology Review.
  • Opara, I., Lardier Jr. D.T., Metzger, I., Herrera, A., Franklin, L., Garcia-Reid, & Reid R.J.. (in press, 2020). “Bullets have no names”: A qualitative exploration of community trauma. Journal of Child and Family Studies.
  • Jones, S. T., Metzger, I., & Anderson, R., (in press, 2020). “Standing in the Gap”: The continued importance of culturally competent therapeutic interventions for Black youth. Evidence-Based Practice in Child & Adolescent Mental Health.
  • Anderson, R., Metzger, I., Jones, S., Lozada, F., (in press, 2020). Interrupting the Pathway from Discrimination to Psychological Outcomes: Investigating Racial Worries and Racial Socialization Competency. Child Development.
  • Griffin, C. B., Gray, D., Hope, E., Metzger, I., & Henderson, D. X. (in press, 2020). Do Coping Responses and Racial Identity Promote School Engagement Among Black Youth? Using an Equity-Elaborated Social-Emotional Learning Lens. Urban Education.
  • Salami, T., Lawson, E., & Metzger, I., (in press, 2020). The Impact of Microaggressions on African American College Students' Worry about Their Future Employment: The Moderating Role of Campus Support and GPA. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.
  • Opara, I., Assan, M.A., Pierre, K., Gunn, J III., Metzger, I., Hamilton J., & Arugu, E. (2020). Suicide among Black Children: An Integrated Model of the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide and Intersectionality Theory for Researchers & Clinicians. Journal of Black Studies.
  • Griffin, C. B., Metzger, I., Halliday-Boykins, C., & Salazar, C. (in press, 2020). Racial Fairness, School Engagement, and Discipline Outcomes in African American High School Students: The Important Role of Gender. School Psychology Review.
  • Henderson, D., Jones, J., McLeod, K., Jackson, K., Lunsford, A., & Metzger, I. (2020). A Phenomenological Study of Racial Harassment in School and Emotional Effects among a Sample of Older Adolescents. The Urban Review. 1-24. 10.1007/s11256-020-00551-5.
  • Jones, S., Anderson, R., Gaskin-Wasson, A., Sawyer, B. Applewhite, K., & Metzger, I., (2020). From “Crib to Coffin”: Navigating Coping from Racism-Related Stress throughout the Lifespan of Black Americans. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry , 90(2), 267.
  • Cooper, S. M., Metzger, I., Georgeson, A., Golden, A. R., Burnett, M., & White, C. N. (2019). Communicative Support and Parental Knowledge among African American Residential Fathers: Longitudinal Associations with Adolescent Substance Use. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(12), 3433-3445.
  • Stewart, R. W., Orengo-Aguayo, R., Wallace, M., Metzger, I. W., & Rheingold, A. A. (2019). Leveraging Technology and Cultural Adaptations to Increase Access and Engagement among Trauma-Exposed African American Youth: Exploratory Study of School-Based Telehealth Delivery of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 0886260519831380.
  • Metzger, I., Salami, T., Carter, S., Halliday-Boykins, C. A., Anderson R. E., Jernigan, M. M., & Ritchwood, T. (2018). African American Emerging Adults’ Experiences with Racial Discrimination and Drinking Habits: The Moderating Roles of Perceived Stress. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. Doi:10.1037/cdp0000204.
  • Williams, M. T., Metzger, I. W., Leins, C., & DeLapp, C. (2018). Assessing racial trauma within a DSM–5 framework: The UConn Racial/Ethnic Stress & Trauma Survey. Practice Innovations, 3(4), 242-260.
  • Ritchwood, T., Metzger, I., Powell, T., Vander Schaff, E., Wynn, M., Zhou, W., Lin, F., Corbie-Smith, G., & Akers, A. (2018). How Does Pubertal Development Impact Caregiver-Adolescent Communication about Sex in Rural, African American Families? An Examination of Mediation Effects. Journal of Early Adolescence, 39(8), 1129-1153.
  • Jaffe, A. E., Bountress, K. E., Metzger, I. W., Maples-Keller, J. L., Pinsky, H. T., George, W. H., & Gilmore, A. K. (2018). Student Engagement and Comfort During a Web-Based Personalized Feedback Intervention for Alcohol and Sexual Assault. Addictive Behaviors, 82, 23-27.
  • Apatu, E., Hamadi, H., Abrams, J., Metzger, I., & Spaulding, A. (2018). Association between Hospital Community Services and County Population Health in the United States. Journal of Public Health.
  • Walker, J. H., Bountress, K. E., Calhoun, C. D., Metzger, I. W., Adams, Z. W., Amstadter, A., Thomas, S. & Danielson, C. K. (2018). Impulsivity and Comorbid PTSD-Binge Drinking. Journal of Dual Diagnosis. doi:10.1080/15504263.2018.1439212.
  • Golden, A. R., Griffin, C. B., Metzger, I., & Cooper, S. M. (2018). School Racial Climate and Academic Outcomes in African American Adolescents: The Protective Role of Peers. Journal of Black Psychology, 44, 47-73.
  • Neilson, E. C., Bird, E. R., Metzger, I., George, W. H., Norris, J., & Gilmore, A. K., (2018). Understanding Sexual Assault Risk Perception in College: Associations among Sexual Assault History, Drinking to Cope, and Alcohol Use. Addictive Behaviors, 78, 178-186.
  • Metzger, I., Blevins, C., Calhoun, C., Ritchwood, T., Gilmore, A., Stewart, R., Bountress, K. (2017). An Examination of the Impact of Maladaptive Coping on the Association between Stressor Type and Alcohol Use in College. Journal of American College Health, 65, 534-541.
  • Ritchwood, T.D., Powell, T. W., Metzger, I. W., Dave, G., Corbie-Smith, G., Atujuna, M., Vander Schaaf, E., Wynn, M., Lin, F., Zhou, W., & Akers, A.Y. (2017). Understanding the Relationship between Religiosity and Caregiver-Adolescent Communication about Sex within African-American Families. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26, 2979-2989.
  • Griffin, C B., Cooper, S. M., Metzger, I., & Golden, A. (2017). School Racial Climate and the Academic Achievement of African American High School Students: The Mediating Role of School Engagement. Psychology in the Schools, 54, 673-688.
  • Bountress, K., Metzger, I., Maples-Keller, J., & Gilmore, A. (2017). Reducing Sexual Risk Behaviors: Secondary Analyses from a Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Alcohol Intervention for Underage, Heavy Episodic Drinking College Women, Addiction Research & Theory, 25:4, 302-309, DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2016.1271416. NIHMSID 843907.
  • Metzger, I., Cooper, S. M., Ritchwood, T. D., Onyeuku, C., & Griffin, C. B. (2017). Profiles of African American College Students’ Alcohol Use and Sexual Behaviors: Associations with Stress, Racial Discrimination, and Social Support. The Journal of Sex Research, 54(3), 374-385. PMCID: PMC5373031. NIHMSID: 845176.
  • Ritchwood, T.D., DeCoster, J, Metzger, I., Bolland, J., & Danielson, C.K. (2016). Does it Really Matter which Drug you Choose? An Examination of the Influence of Type of Drug on Type of Risky Sexual Behavior. Addictive Behaviors, 60, 97-102. NIHMSID 780214. PMCID: PMC4884511.
  • Stewart, R.W., Tuerk, P.W., Metzger, I., Davidson, T.M., & Young, J. (2016). A Decision Tree Approach to the Assessment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Engineering Empirically Rigorous and Ecologically Valid Assessment Measures. Psychological Services, 13, 1-9. NIHMSID 845190.
  • Andrews III, A. R., Jobe-Shields, L., López, C. M., Metzger, I. W., de Arellano, M. A., Saunders, B., & Kilpatrick, D. G. (2015). Polyvictimization, Income, and Ethnic Differences in Trauma-Related Mental Health During Adolescence. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 50(8), 1223-1234. NIHMSID 698028. PMCID: PMC4521986.
  • Cooper, S.M., Smalls-Glover, C., Metzger, I., & Brown, C. (2015). African American Fathers' Racial Socialization Patterns: Associations with and Racial Identity Beliefs and Discrimination Experiences. Family Relations, 64, 278-290.
  • Cooper, S.M., White-Johnson, R., Brown Griffin, C., Metzger, I., Avery, M., Eaddy, H., Shephard, C., & Guthrie, B. (2015).  Community Involvement and Reduced Risk Behavior Engagement among African American Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Empowerment Beliefs. Journal of Black Psychology, 41, 415-437.
  • Cooper, S. M., Brown, C., Metzger, I., Clinton, Y., & Guthrie, B. (2013). Racial Discrimination and African American Adolescents’ Adjustment: Gender Variation in Family and Community Social Support, Promotive and Protective Factors. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(1), 15-29.
  • Metzger, I., Cooper, S. M., Flory, K., & Zarrett, N. (2013). Culturally Sensitive Risk-Behavior Prevention Programs for African American Adolescents: A Systematic Analysis. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16, 187-212.
  • Guthrie, B. J., Cooper, S. M., Brown, C., & Metzger, I. (2012). Degrees of Difference among Minority Female Juvenile Offenders’ Psychological Functioning, Risk Behavior Engagement, and Health Status: A Latent Profile Investigation. The Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 23, 204-225.
  • Williams, R. S., Terry, N. P., & Metzger, I., (2012). Kid Categories:  A Comparison of the Category Productions of LSES and MSES Elementary School Children. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 34, 71-8.
  • Cooper, S.M., Guthrie, B.J., Brown, C.L., & Metzger, I. (2011). Daily Hassles and African American Adolescent Females’ Psychological Functioning: Direct and Interactive Associations with Gender Role Orientation. Sex Roles, 65, 397-409.
Articles Featuring Isha Metzger

Clinical psychology faculty member, Dr. Isha Metzger, was recently featured in a Q & A with UGA Research. Dr. Metzger discusses her commitment to helping minority populations cope with racial trauma and reducing mental health disparities within…

Congratulations to Dr. Isha Metzger and her team who just received a coveted multiyear, $1M SAMHSA grant to research community applications in HIV and substance misuse populations with a focus on…

With emancipation must come education.

Dr. Isha Metzger and Dr. Janet Frick recently presented to Cedar Shoals High School Peer Leadership students on the issues of trauma and human development. Together, they discussed the field of psychology, development, trauma, and the ways that early…

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