Cara Maffini, PhD

Cara Maffini

Associate Professor, Child & Adolescent Development

Cara's research encompasses intersections of culture, mental health, trauma particularly among adolescents and emerging adults. She focuses on socioemotional, cultural, and developmental elements of risk and resilience. Cara has expertise in counseling psychology, trauma-informed care, and culturally-responsive approaches to healing and healthy development. She is a founding faculty member of SJSU's Health Development Community Clinic (HDCC).


  • Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, Indiana University
  • M.A., Psychology, Sacramento State University
  • B.A.S., Psychobiology and Dance, UC Davis

Recent Publications

  • Marx, R., Maffini, C. S., Peña, F. (2022). Understanding nonbinary college students’ experiences on college campuses: An exploratory study of mental health, campus Involvement, victimization and safety. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. 10.1037/dhe0000422

  • Maffini, C. S., Paradis, G., & Molthen, F. (2022).  Integrating two families: Factors influencing relationship satisfaction among intercultural couples. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 53(2), 238-257. 10.3138/jcfs.53.2.050

  • Maffini, C. S., & Dillard, K. C. (2022). Safe & sound? Perceptions of campus safety for Black college students. Race Ethnicity and Education, 25(1), 2-17.

  • Paradis, G., & Maffini, C. S. (2021). Navigating intercultural relational dynamics: The roles of attachment and cultural values. Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development, 49(4).

  • Linares, J., & Maffini, C. S. (2020). Voces de resistencia: Exploring Salvadoran students’ experiences and needs in higher education. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 19(4), 388-403.
  • West, M. T., & Maffini, C. S. (2019). ‘What are you?’ Conceptualizing the complexities of bicultural and biracial college student experiences. Journal of College Counseling, 22, 164-178.
  • Simpson, L. A., Maffini, C. S., Schuck, R. (2019). Examining use of school personnel in CBT interventions for anxiety in students with ASD. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 54, 301-312.   

Recent Presentations

  • Palmer, A., & Maffini, C. S. (2021, April). Growing up with a sibling with Autism: College students’ perspectives. Poster Presentation at the annual Western Psychological Association (WPA) Virtual Convention.
  • Chavez, K. & Maffini, C. S. (2021, April). Experiences of Latinx College Students during COVID-19. Poster Presentation at the annual Western Psychological Association (WPA) Virtual Convention.
  • Marx, R., Peña, F., & Maffini, C. S. (2021, April). Who’s under the LGBTQ+ umbrella? Understanding nonbinary college students’ experiences on campus. Flash Talk Session: Attitudes toward and experiences of transgender and gender diverse youth. Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Virtual Biennial Meeting.

Noteworthy Grants and Awards

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Congressional Directive Spending Projects - $500,000

Areas of Research Interest

  • Adolescents / emerging adults
  • Bicultural
  • Campus safety
  • Communities of color
  • Intergenerational transmission of trauma
  • Psychological well-being / mental health
  • Refugees

Recommended Reading

Personality Playlist

Listen to Cara's playlist below and access all of the personality playlists on our Lurie College of Education Spotify account