Teresa Davis LaFromboise was born in a small southern Indiana town. She is of American Indian (Miami Nation) and European descent and is best known for her work in American Indian adolescent suicide prevention.
LaFromboise began her career as a middle school art and language arts teacher with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and later the Saginaw Chippewa in Michigan, where she also worked with the Johnson-O’Malley Program. Noticing that 80% of the American Indian students on the Saginaw Chippewa reservation were dropping out of school, she sponsored a group of her students to participate in Suitcase Theatre, a national youth performing arts program that aimed to empower youth and promote respect for cultural diversity. As LaFromboise became more aware of how limited her opportunities were, as a teacher, to impact student issues, she wrote a grant that was funded to provide counseling services for the Saginaw Chippewa middle school students. At that point in her career, her family moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where she worked as a teacher for homebound students and began her graduate studies, focusing on mental health issues among American Indians. LaFromboise began her doctoral education at the University of Oklahoma fully intending to provide clinical services to American Indians. As she became aware of the lack of published research addressing American Indians, her focus shifted to a career in academics and research. LaFromboise received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Oklahoma in 1979. She was on the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Wisconsin-Madison before going to Stanford University.
LaFromboise’s research topics include interpersonal influence in multicultural counseling, bicultural competence development, and ethnic identity and adolescent health. Her American Indian Life Skills Development is among the promising evidence-based treatments for youth suicide prevention and is used extensively in schools and public health prevention programs. LaFromboise has written extensively about multicultural service delivery. She is currently investigating the effectiveness of a culturally tailored suicide prevention intervention with American Indian youth in school and in home settings. In addition to assessing the impact of this intervention on the reduction of suicidal behavior, LaFromboise is exploring the role of cumulative stress, perceived discrimination, cultural identity, depression, and substance use on suicidal ideation. She teaches seminars titled Adolescent Development and Mentoring in an Urban Context, Racial and Ethnic Identity Development, Social and Emotional Learning in Schools, and Psychology and American Indian Mental Health. LaFromboise’s research and published works have gained the respect and notice of academicians worldwide.
In the early 1990s, LaFromboise was appointed to the Office of Technology Assessment Committee to produce the report on adolescent health. Her daughter was an emerging adolescent at the time that LaFromboise served on this committee, which was also examining American Indian adolescent health statistics. During that time she became much more aware of the issues impacting her daughter’s current and future health. With an appointment to the National Research Council on the effectiveness of community-based interventions for youth, LaFromboise moved her research and work toward issues of resilience and positive youth development.
Among the honors LaFromboise has received are the Distinguished Career Contribution to Research Award from the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues, 2002; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Excellence Award, 2005; Effective Practices and Models in Communities of Color: Effective Behavioral Health Interventions for Children, Adolescents, and Families of Color from the First Nations Behavioral Health Association, 2005; and Who Made a Difference from the University of Oklahoma College of Education, 2004.
LaFromboise is currently the chair of Native American Studies at Stanford. She has served as president of the American Psychological Association Division 45: Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues and on the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives.
- Bryant, A., Jr., & LaFromboise, T. D. (2005). The racial identity and cultural orientation of Lumbee American Indian high school students. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 11(1), 82-89.
- LaFromboise, T. (1996). American Indian life skills development curriculum. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
- LaFromboise, T. (2006). American Indian youth suicide prevention. Prevention Researcher, 13(3), 16-18.
- LaFromboise, T. D., Hoyt, D. R., & Oliver, L. (2006). Family, community, and school influences on resilience among American Indian adolescents in the upper Midwest. Journal of Community Psychology, 34(2), 193-209.
- Miranda, J., Bernal, G., Lau, A., Kohn, L., Hwang, W. C., & LaFromboise, T. (2005). State of the science on psychosocial interventions for ethnic minorities. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1(1), 113-142.
- Yoder, K. A., Whitbeck, L. B., Hoyt, D. R., & LaFromboise, T. D. (2006). Suicide ideation among American Indian youths. Archives of Suicide Research, 10(2), 177-190.