M. Katherine Shear, MD

Center Director

Dr. Kathy Shear, Founder and Director of the Center for Complicated Grief, is a an internist and a psychiatrist with the heart of a social worker. She is a talented clinician who has been studying and treating people with complicated grief for more than 30 years. She developed a short-term therapy that was influenced by her inherent optimism and faith in human creativity and resilience. Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT) has the strongest evidence base of any grief treatment in the world.

But this isn’t the whole story. Kathy is accessible, generous and warm. She is also a force to be reckoned as a clear and creative thinker. Kathy engages deeply in research, teaching and writing and is fascinated by possibilities offered by digital innovations.

Workwise at the end of the day her heart is in clinical practice. She finds it deeply gratifying that CGT has helped so many people rediscover enthusiasm for life while finding a way to accept and honor their loss.

Colleen Bloom, MSW

Center Manager

Colleen Bloom, Manager of the Center for Complicated Grief, is a masters level social worker. Colleen is a member of the team that started the Center and has played a central role in Center operations.

As Manager of the Center for Complicated Grief, she has many responsibilities and is pivotal in launching and developing new projects.

Gaëlle Bottex, BS

Assistant Manager

Gaelle Bottex, Program Assistant for the Center for Complicated Grief, completed undergraduate work in Psychology and Spanish. She brings an interest in grief and its universality along with a love for learning, organizing, and planning to her work with the Center’s administrative team.

Gaelle is energetic, inquisitive, and creative and as the youngest member of the Center’s team, she brings her millennial insights into all aspects of the Center’s work. She is passionate about health promotion and the elimination of health disparities on a global scale and hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health in the future.

Bonnie Gorscak, PhD

Senior CGT Trainer

Dr. Bonnie Gorscak, Senior Trainer, is a lead presenter of our CGT Workshops and also serves as a supervisor in our study testing the usefulness of a mobile app for bereaved military families.

Bonnie has been working with Kathy since 2001 when she was a therapist in our first NIMH-sponsored study. After seeing that CGT brought relief to suffering, bereaved people in a remarkably short time, Bonnie became convinced of the need to help us teach others to deliver it.

Natalia Skritskaya, PhD

Research Scientist & CGT Trainer

Dr. Natalia Skritskaya is a researcher and clinical psychologist who was a member of the team that started the Center for Complicated Grief. Natalia’s dedication, clarity of thought and creative vision are assets to the development of the team’s research projects and training initiatives.

In addition to her sharp intellect, Natalia’s gentleness, clinical insights, and devotion to using science enrich her work.

Mary Sormanti, PhD

Senior Educational Partner

Mary Sormanti, Senior Educational Partner, has extensive experience in social work education and a long-standing interest in loss, grief, and adaptation associated with life-threatening illness. She organizes and supervises our field placement program and works with us on a range of educational and research projects. She is a member of the support team for our mobile app for bereaved families.

John Bean LCSW, LP

Center Affiliate & CGT Trainer

John Bean, Trainer, brings decades of clinical social work experience and unfailing good humor to his work at the Center for Complicated Grief. John was a research therapist for our recent NIMH funded studies. His ongoing work with CGT in his private practice continues to enrich his training presentations.

Known for his approachability, sensitivity and passion to share his knowledge of CGT, John is a valued member of our training faculty.

Nancy Turret, LCSW, MSW

Center Affiliate & CGT Trainer

Nancy Turret, Trainer, has decades of experience as a research and clinical social worker at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center. She was the first therapist trained to do CGT in New York and a therapist in each of our Columbia-based CGT studies. She continues to provide this treatment in her private practice and brings this experience to her teaching activities.

Nancy is also a talented photographer. When asked about her own aspirational goal by a CGT study participant she realized that she wanted to photograph people from different cultures. She began a project that took her the streets of New York and produced a series of photography books including a photo series called A Time to Die. When she accompanied Kathy to Japan to train clinicians after the 2011 Tsunami she documented the trip in a photographic essay, Japan Through My Eyes.

Desmond Patton, PhD, MSW

Faculty Affiliate

Dr. Desmond Upton Patton is the founding director of SAFELab at Columbia School of Social Work. He is a Public Interest Technologist who uses qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine the relationship between youth and gang violence and social media; how and why violence, grief, and identity are expressed on social media; and the real world impact these expressions have on wellbeing for low-income youth of color.

Associate Professor Desmond Upton Patton is a Public Interest Technologist who uses qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine the relationship between youth and gang violence and social media; how and why violence, grief, and identity are expressed on social media; and the real world impact these expressions have on wellbeing for low-income youth of color. Dr. Patton is the founding Director of the SAFE lab, a member of the Data Science Institute, a faculty affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and holds a courtesy appointment in the department of Sociology. He is the recipient of the 2018 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR), and was named a 2017-2018 Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

Dr. Patton studies the ways in which gang involved youth conceptualize threats on social media, and the extent to which social media shapes and facilitates youth and gang violence. In partnership with the Data Science Institute, he is developing an online tool for detecting aggression in social media posts. Dr. Patton’s research on “internet banging” has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Boston Magazine, ABC News, and Vice. It was cited in an Amici Curae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, which examined the interpretation of threats on social media.

Nicole Alston, MSW

Center Affiliate

Nicole Alston is an assessment rater for our research project testing the usefulness of a mobile app for bereaved military families. Nicole joined us as a research recruitment coordinator shortly after coming to Columbia School of Social Work more than a decade ago.

Nicole is trained as a CGT therapist and has treated families who experienced death by homicide, death by suicide, perinatal loss, and the death of a family member due to a life-limiting illness.

Kim Glickman, PhD

Center Affiliate

Dr. Kim Glickman is a clinical social worker and educator. She works with us to train assessment raters and as a faculty member on the team working on curriculum development. She is also taking the lead on publications from our clinical studies to further understand how CGT works. Kim joined us as an independent evaluator on our CGT clinical trials where she was known for her thoughtfulness, as well as her warmth and skill as a clinical interviewer.

In addition to her work at the Center, Kim is an assistant professor at York College of City University of New York where she teaches courses in research methods and clinical practice. She is a trained CGT therapist and provides the treatment in her private practice.

Christine Mauro, PhD

Center Affiliate & Biostatistician

Dr. Christine Mauro is our Center Biostatistician. She joined us a Biostatistics doctoral student in 2011 and has worked with us ever since. She has led our groups’ work in diagnostic criteria testing and won an award for her dissertation on that topic. She currently works with us on developing manuscripts from our completed studies and as the Biostatistician for our ongoing research.

In addition to work at the Center, Christine is actively engaged in a number of other public health projects and educating graduate students.