People

Sarah Gzesh

Sarah Gzesh, MSW

  • Student, PhD in Social Welfare

Cohort: 2021-2022

Advisor: Dr. Johanna Greeson

Research Interests

Mentorship for trans/gender expansive and LGBIA+ youth

Continuum of agency between consensual sex work and sexual exploitation

Youth system involvement and factors impacting transitions to adulthood

Harm reduction

Resiliency-focused interventions

Critical theory

Participatory Action Research

Sarah has worked in direct practice with marginalized young people for over a decade, as both an educator and therapist. After studying Art History and English at Bryn Mawr College, Sarah joined Teach for America and earned a Secondary English Teaching Credential. Sarah taught English Language Arts and Critical Theory for six years in Title I schools throughout the Bay Area, CA. Sarah earned a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University, in the clinical track for Children, Youth, and Families. As a clinician, Sarah worked at Westcoast Children’s Clinic and Larkin Street Youth Services, and supported system-involved youth experiencing sexual exploitation, substance use, and homelessness. Sarah is passionate about exploring how identity-based supports provide corrective experiences for past attachment ruptures, embodied oppression, and complex trauma. Sarah believes that harm reduction and participatory action research are integral to accurately ascertaining gauges of distress (such as consensual sex work vs. exploitation, substance mis/use), so as to avoid exacerbating marginalization and pathologization. Sarah’s research goal is to expand definitions of family systems within the field of social welfare to harness cultural wealth embedded in LGBTQ+ communities, and to use research-informed practice and practice-informed research to improve clinical interventions for transitional age youth.

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