A photo of Rachel Lawton.

Rachel Lawton, PhD


  • Pediatric Psychologist, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
My approach to care focuses on the fundamental idea that parents are the experts on their children and a child is an expert on who they are, who they’d like to grow up to be and what they value. My role then is to help children and families identify what is getting in the way of their own health and emotional well-being and their ability to meet their goals.

About

Biography

As a child psychologist, I specialize in caring for at-risk youth and families who are impacted by social and/or medical adversity. More specifically, my clinical and research interests lie within the intersection of child mental health and childhood trauma. I am interested in the development, dissemination and integration of child mental health assessment and intervention into pediatric healthcare settings, particularly pediatric primary care and tertiary subspecialty settings that serve at-risk and under-resourced communities.

Having the privilege to learn from, work with and empower at-risk youth and their families inspired me as a student and continues to inspire me now. My approach to care focuses on the fundamental idea that parents are the experts on their children and a child is an expert on who they are, who they’d like to grow up to be and what they value. My role then is to help children and families identify what is getting in the way of their own health and emotional well-being and their ability to meet their goals. I work to help them find and implement strategies that foster change.

I believe in resilience and empowerment through shared conversation, active listening and strategic intervention. Theoretically, I'm grounded in family systems theory. This approach recognizes that children and parents function within a broader family structure, and emphasizes that to understand a child and parent we need to understand the family in which they live. I believe that parents are a fundamental part of the treatment process, and while the role of parents and caregivers may shift as a child gets older, their presence and engagement are important throughout the therapeutic process.

From an intervention perspective, I most frequently implement cognitive and behavioral therapeutic strategies for patient care. This approach is evidence-based and strongly grounded in the notion that our mental health impacts, and is impacted by, the way we think, behave and feel. Interventions that influence and change these domains have the potential to change our overall mental health.

My current research explores how integrated behavioral health can collaborate with interdisciplinary partners to positively impact patient care. More specifically, this includes research that 1) examines the impact of medical-legal-psychology partnerships and 2) seeks to understand ways that integrated psychologists can implement crisis assessments and emergency department diversions in primary care settings.

In my free time, I enjoy hiking anywhere — mountains, fields or coastlines. I also love spending time outside with my family and friends. I spent a year living abroad in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, earning a degree in medical anthropology and sociology before deciding to pursue graduate school in clinical psychology.

Location

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Publications

"The Tough Get Going ": Understanding the Role of Resilience and a Multidimensional Conceptualization of Mental Health Among Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Lawton, RC. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2021.

Mental Health Costs of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Szigethy, E; Murphy, SM; Ehrlich, OG; Engel-Nitz, NM; Heller, CA; Henrichsen, K; Lawton, R; Meadows, P; Allen, JI. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2021; 27:40-48.

Medical-Legal-Psychology Partnerships - Innovation in Addressing Social Determinants of Health in Pediatric Primary Care. Lawton, R; Whitehead, M; Henize, A; Fink, E; Salamon, M; Kahn, R; Beck, AF; Klein, M. Ambulatory Pediatrics. 2020; 20:902-904.

The Cost of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: An Initiative From the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Park, KT; Ehrlich, OG; Allen, JI; Meadows, P; Szigethy, EM; Henrichsen, K; Kim, SC; Lawton, RC; Murphy, SM; Regueiro, M; et al. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2020; 26:1-10.

Methotrexate for the Treatment of Pediatric Crohn's Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Colman, RJ; Lawton, RC; Dubinsky, MC; Rubin, DT. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2018; 24:2135-2141.

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