Michaela Farber


  • National Catholic School of Social Service
  • Expertise

  • Parenting
  • effects of adult-parental mental health on childbearing
  • early childhood development
  • mentoring and training of health care professionals delivering family
  • program and practice evaluation
  • Bio

    Dr. Farber has over 20 years of experience as a clinical social worker combined with academic expertise in teaching, research, and community service, including case management, professional consultation, grant writing, project development, and practice and program evaluation in the context of agency services.
    She has primarily focused on addressing the needs and well-being of vulnerable, economically impoverished, multicultural families caring for infants, children, and adolescents with and without disabilities, who struggle with mental health, trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence, chronic poverty, immigration, and various disabilities. She maintains LCSW-C license in Maryland and has a Diplomate-level certification by NASW and Board Certified Diplomate (BCD) status at the American Board of Examiners for Clinical Social Work (ABECSW).

    Dr. Farber very much values and fondly reflects on her undergraduate training (in Cleveland) both in social work and psychology, participating in internships and volunteer experiences that taught her about (a) typical and atypical child development of children living in a residential setting due to emotional and developmental disabilities; (b) coping and caregiving of parents trying to adopt children with developmental delay or learning disabilities in the U.S.; and (c) coping and adaptation of parents with children struggling with cancer (at Cleveland Clinic).

    Dr. Farber started her social work MSW career continuing to focus on the needs and well-being of families with children and adolescents. In her foundation graduate internship, she relished the opportunity to hone her counseling and advocacy skills with young children, their parents, grandparents, and other caregivers. She was directly responsible for orchestrating a program in which interested elderly residents (from a nursing home) read stories to and interacted with young children in a local daycare center. In her advanced graduate internship, she became a (awarded) fellow in an inter-disciplinary training program for health care professionals, the Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program at the Kennedy Krieger (formerly known as John F. Kennedy Institute) in Baltimore, Maryland. She started to specialize in the delivery of clinical services in health care, inpatient and outpatient hospital settings, advocacy and case management in the community, and mental health and instrumental social support in the home for families of children and adolescents with disabilities.

    Post MSW, Dr. Farber worked for several years in the “trenches” doing social work that taught her clinical practices with different types of families (bio, foster, adoptive, multigenerational, and partnered) caring for children with and without disabilities in the context of child welfare. She carried out clinical individual or group therapy with adolescents, play therapy with young children, and couples therapy with parenting adults including adolescent mothers. Later, during this time, she also worked as a state-level of MD case manager, specifically forging a policy for an interdisciplinary system of care geared to support and assure quality of life of young and older adults with severe and multiple disabilities, including those who lived in rural areas of Baltimore County.

    She loved her work as a clinical social worker, while also becoming interested in examining factors that help to identify and predict psychosocial functioning and human well-being as pertains to having a quality family life. Her inquisitiveness and problem-solving led her into a PhD level work; her dissertation developed and empirically tested a quantitative multi-factorial model that predicted coping and adaptation of around 400 families rearing a child with Down syndrome. She also collected and analyzed qualitative data that provided an in-depth insight into the needs of these families. The knowledge gained during developing and executing her own dissertation research planted seeds for and served as a platform in her ongoing valuing of research (and using empirical data) in translation of clinical practice efforts.

    During and after her PhD, Dr. Farber continued working as a clinical social worker in the community, engaging in part-time private practice, agency and professional consultation for client-clinical mental health services and practice and program evaluation, and teaching in social work. Her ongoing interests in the promotion of well-being of children and families, and her continual awareness of the ongoing societal needs for using research to document and evaluate the effectiveness of clinical practice efforts, led her to forge the current path in academia at NCSSS.

    Academically, Dr. Farber began teaching in the MSW program at NCSSS in 1991, joining as an assistant professor in 2003, and being promoted to an associate professor with tenure in 2009.
    In the past, she has taught MSW foundation social work research methods, generalist practice with individuals, families, and groups, theories of human behavior and social environment, psychopathology, advanced social work practice and program evaluation, and context of social work practice with families and children. She has also taught a foundation research course in the doctoral program.
    At present, she teaches across undergraduate, masters, and doctoral social work level of education, focusing on research and statistics, and practice evaluation.

    Recently, she has developed (with a team of three other professionals from other disciplines) and taught a year-long, graduate level, on-line course for health care professionals at GWU.
    With two other NCSSS faculty colleagues, Dr. Farber developed, later directed, and is a continuing member of a CUA-NCSSS research center, presently known as the Center for Advancement of Children, Youth, and Families (CACYF).

    Dr. Farber has conducted and developed multiple research projects including population needs assessments and process and outcome evaluations, designed to strengthen the capacity of local and national social agencies to respond to the complex needs of high-risk families with children and adolescents, including those affected by trauma. Because Dr. Farber has always valued inter- and trans-disciplinary collaboration, she also often involves graduate level students from NCSSS, CUA, and other local universities in some part of her research.

    Her major long-range research projects include participating as: (a) A research analyst on a federally funded longitudinal evaluation of Early Head Start (EHS) services, a partnership project between NCSSS and Department of Special Education at CUA (1998-2006). Currently, she continues as an active member of the National Research Consortium on EHS. (b) Co-Principal Investigator for CUA with GWU, and GU, on an interdisciplinary federally funded (by HRSA and MCHB) Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND), a training program for health care graduate-level professionals at the Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. (2003 – 2012). (c) Co-Principal Investigator with the Lt. J.P. Kennedy Institute (JPKI), Providence Hospital, and the Perry Family Health Center on a federally funded (by OERI) project that developed, implemented, and evaluated (by pilot testing and a small randomized trial) a parent mentoring intervention provided to high-risk African American and Latino families with infants and toddlers (2002-2007). (d) Co-principal Investigator with the Lt. J. P. Kennedy Institute of the Catholic Charities in Washington, DC, on a federally funded project (by ARRA and ACF) that has developed a new, home-based, Early Head Start (EHS) program with high-risk African American and Latino families rearing very young children with and without disabilities (2009-currently ongoing). In her current project, Dr. Farber has worked on developing an innovative mental health protocol that assures timely screening and support to mothers (and fathers) identified with depression.

    Personally, Dr. Farber has derived life-experience from living in Northeastern Europe (Czech Republic - Prague) and India (Hyderabad, Trichinopoly). She and her pediatrician-husband of 30-some years have two almost grown children, and three cats. Their beloved Scottish terrier guards the house. Some deer and other wildlife are known to visit as well. In some of her spare time, she loves hiking, globe-trotting, cooking, knitting, movies, theatre, swimming, and seeking sea-shells. She is always reading something; she can barely wait for the next installment of Patrick Rothfus’ science-fantasy trilogy; recently she very much enjoyed the reflections on life by Pat Summit, a major coach of women’s basketball; she inhaled the most recent edition of historical fiction on Catherine the Great by R. Massie; and she is currently chomping on a British mystery. And, she highly recommends that everyone reads: The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. She welcomes similarly shared information.

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    • Generalist social work practice

      Generalist social work practice

      Timberlake, E.M., Farber, M.L.Z., & Sabatino, C.A. (2008). Generalist social work practice: A Strengths-based problem-solving approach (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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    • The General method of social work practice

      The General method of social work practice

      Timberlake, E.M., Farber, M.L.Z., & Sabatino, C.A. (2002). The General method of social work practice: McMahon's generalist perspective. (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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    Recent Publications

    Zajicek-Farber, M. L., Lotrecchiano, G., Long, T., & Farber, J.M. (2015). Parental perceptions of family centered care in medical homes of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Maternal and Child Health Journal, Accepted. doi: 10.1007/s10995-015-1688-z

    Zajicek-Farber, M. L., Mayer, L. M., & Daughtery, L., & Rodkey, E. (2014). The buffering effect of childhood routines: Longitudinal connections between early parenting and pre-kindergarten learning readiness of children in low-income families. Journal of Social Service Research, 40(5), 699-720. doi: 10.1080/01488376.2014.930946

    Brophy-Herb, H.E, Zajicek-Farber, M. L., McKelvey, L., Bocknek, E. L., & Stansbury, K. (2013). Longitudinal connections of maternal supportiveness and early emotion regulation to later school readiness of young children in low-income families. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 4(1), 2-19. doi: 10.5243/jsswr.2013.1

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