Dr. Malitta Engstrom

Malitta Engstrom, PhD, LCSW

  • Associate Professor

  • Director, Master of Social Work Program

  • Faculty Fellow, Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse

  • Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute

  • Fellow, Gerontological Society of America

3701 Locust Walk, Caster Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
  • office: 215.573.6454
  • fax: 215.573.2099

Research Interests

Substance use and intersections with criminal justice system involvement, victimization, HIV, and mental health, particularly in relation to women across the life course and families

Informing, developing, and testing interventions to address co-occurring concerns

Enhancing the value of scientific findings for use in practice

Multigenerational social work practice with families

Malitta Engstrom is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice. With the aims of advancing understanding and services, her research focuses on substance use and intersections with criminal justice involvement, victimization, HIV, and mental health, particularly in relation to women across the life course and families; informing, developing, and testing interventions to address these intersecting concerns; and enhancing the value of scientific findings for use in practice. Dr. Engstrom’s research has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Penn Center for AIDS Research, and other sources. Her research on childhood sexual abuse and HIV risk behaviors among women in methadone treatment was recognized by the Society for Social Work and Research in 2017 (Engstrom, Winham, & Gilbert, 2016, SSWR Excellence in Research Honorable Mention).

Dr. Engstrom has taught social work practice courses for over 15 years, including courses that focus on foundation practice, substance use practice, and practice with families experiencing physical and mental health concerns. She received the Excellence in Teaching Award for Standing Faculty in the School of Social Policy & Practice in 2014 and 2015. Dr. Engstrom has mentored many doctoral students who have conducted innovative research related to substance use, criminal justice system involvement, trauma, mental health, and HIV. Her teaching and scholarship are informed by numerous years of practice experience with individuals, couples, families, and groups and by her experience as a clinical supervisor and field instructor.

Dr. Engstrom has held institutional leadership positions at multiple institutions. These positions include serving as Personnel Committee Chair (Penn), Foundation Practice Sequence Chair (Penn), Clinical Concentration Chair (University of Chicago), Admissions Committee Chair (University of Chicago), and Morningside Institutional Review Board Student Representative (Columbia University). Dr. Engstrom has also served as a faculty advisor for multiple student organizations, including international social welfare, student support, and publication groups.

Before joining the SP2 faculty, Dr. Engstrom held appointments at the University of Chicago and Columbia University. She received her PhD in social work with distinction from the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where, as a National Institute of Mental Health National Research Service Awardee, she focused on mental health services research. Dr. Engstrom also holds a master’s degree in social work from the Columbia University School of Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University with an AB in educational studies (with honors) and in women’s studies.

Selected Publications

Masin-Moyer, M., Engstrom, M., & Solomon, P. (In press). A comparative effectiveness study of a shortened Trauma Recovery Empowerment Model (TREM) and an attachment-informed variation (ATREM). Violence Against Women.

Engstrom, M., Alford, S., Hampton, K., Longmire, M., Schwarz, M. K., & Eder, M. (2019). Evaluation of SISTA and Safety Counts in “real-world” settings with African American women in Chicago. Journal of HIV/AIDS & Social Services, 18(3), 213-228.

Sharlein, J., & Engstrom, M. (2018). Neighborhood disproportion in juvenile justice contact. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 69(4), 25-41.

Wimberly, A. S., Engstrom, M., Layde, M., & McKay, J. R. (2018). A randomized trial of yoga for stress and substance use among people living with HIV in reentry. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 94, 97-104.

Conner, L. R., Engstrom, M., Junious, E., & Edwards-Knight, K. (2018). Woman to Woman (W2W): Adapting an HIV risk reduction intervention for older women. Journal of Women & Aging, 30(5), 428-443.

Engstrom, M., Winham, K. M., Golder, S., Higgins, G., Renn, T., & Logan, T. (2017). Correlates of HIV risks among women on probation and parole. AIDS Education and Prevention, 29(3), 256-273.

Wimberly, A., & Engstrom, M. (2017). Stress, substance use, and yoga in the context of community reentry following incarceration. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 24(1), 96-103.

Engstrom, M., Wimberly, A., & Franke, N. (2017). Mass incarceration: What’s at stake and what to do. In J. L. Jackson, Jr. (Ed.), Social policy and social justice(pp. 20-41). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Engstrom, M., Winham, K. M., & Gilbert, L. (2016). Types and characteristics of childhood sexual abuse: How do they matter in HIV sexual risk behaviors among women in methadone treatment in New York City? Substance Use & Misuse, 51(3), 277-294.

Golder, S., Engstrom, M., Hall, M. T., Higgins, G., & Logan, T. (2015). Psychological distress among victimized women on probation and parole: A latent class analysis. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(4), 382-391.

Winham, K. M., Engstrom, M., Golder, S., Renn, T., Higgins, G. E., & Logan, T. (2015). Childhood victimization, attachment, psychological distress and substance use among women on probation and parole. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(2), 145-158.

Golder, S., Hall, M. T., Engstrom, M., Higgins, G. E., & Logan, T. (2014). Correlates of recent drug use among victimized women on probation and parole. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(4), 1105-1116.

Canada, K. E., Engstrom, M., & Jang, E. (2014). Psychosocial and re-incarceration risks among older adults in mental health courts. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22(8), 845-849.

Engstrom, M., El-Bassel, N., & Gilbert, L. (2012). Childhood sexual abuse characteristics, intimate partner violence exposure, and psychological distress among women in methadone treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 43(3), 366-376.

Engstrom, M.(2012). Family processes in kinship care. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Normal family processes: Growing diversity and complexity (4th ed., pp. 196-221). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Engstrom, M.(2012). Physical and mental health: Interactions, assessment, and interventions. In S. Gehlert and T. Arthur Browne (Eds.), Handbook of health social work (2nd edition, pp. 164-218)Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Engstrom, M., Mahoney, C. A., & Marsh, J. C. (2012). Substance use problems in health social work practice. In S. Gehlert and T. Arthur Browne (Eds.), Handbook of health social work(2nd edition, pp. 426-467). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Engstrom, M., Shibusawa, T., El-Bassel, N., & Gilbert, L. (2011). Age and HIV sexual risk among women in methadone treatment. AIDS and Behavior, 15(1),103-113.

Lee, H. S., Engstrom, M., & Petersen, S. R. (2011). Harm reduction and 12 steps: Complementary, oppositional, or something in-between? Substance Use & Misuse, 46(9), 1151-1161.

Engstrom, M.(2008). Involving caregiving grandmothers in family interventions when mothers with substance use problems are incarcerated. Family Process, 47(3)357-371.

Engstrom, M., El-Bassel, N., Go, H., & Gilbert, L. (2008). Childhood sexual abuse and intimate partner violence among women in methadone treatment: A direct or mediated relationship? Journal of Family Violence, 23(7), 605-617.

Schiff, M., El-Bassel, N., Engstrom, M., & Gilbert, L. (2002). Psychological distress and intimate physical and sexual abuse among women in methadone maintenance treatment programs. Social Service Review, 76(2), 302-320.

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