In 1970 Vivian B. Shapiro joined the research group headed by Professor Selma Fraiberg within the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. This clinical research group, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and part of a multi-university effort that included groups at NIH, Harvard, and Yale, focused on the assessment and treatment of very young children with emotional and developmental difficulties. The Michigan group found that often these families had significant problems in parent-infant attachment relationships, and many of these parents had disturbed early attachment relationships within their own early lives. The team created new models of therapeutic approaches to help these parents overcome their early traumas and empathetically care for their infants. Professor Shapiro also initiated a statewide training program in infant mental health. Based on this research, Selma Fraiberg, Edna Adelson, and Professor Shapiro published the article "Ghosts in the Nursery," which has been recognized as an important addition to the clinical fields of social work and child psychiatry.
From 1980 to 1988, Professor Shapiro worked as assistant and then associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. During this time she continued to do research and publish on the subject of children's emotional well-being and new clinical approaches.
In 1987 Professor Shapiro's husband Harold, tenth president of the University of Michigan (1980-87), accepted the position of president at Princeton University. She was given professor emerita status. At that time she joined the Mount Sinai Medical School in New York, where she worked in the Department of Pediatrics during the height of the AIDS difficulties. Learning of the cultural losses and poverty in these parents' lives, she was inspired to study narrative theory and entered a PhD program at Smith College. In 2001 Professor Shapiro published a book entitled Complex Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology: A Developmental Approach to Clinical Practice, which she co-authored with her daughter Janet Eisenberg and Isabel Paret.
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University of Michigan
School of Social Work
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106