Personal profile

Research Interests

Dr. Ostler is a Professor in the School of Social Work at UIUC. She was a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where she received her bachelor’s degree, MA and PhD in psychology. A licensed clinician in the State of Illinois, she was a faculty member for nine years in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois in Chicago and a lead member of the Parenting Assessment Team, a multidisciplinary team that evaluated parenting competency in individuals with severe and chronic mental illness and child protective service involvement. Dr. Ostler’s research focuses on developmental psychopathology, individuals with major mental illness as parents, and parent-child attachment relationships. Grounded in the fields of attachment theory and developmental psychopathology, my research interests concern the dynamics of at risk parenting behavior in mothers with major illness, with focus given to assessment and to understanding the etiology of extreme attachment attitudes and their links to mothers’ symptoms relationships and parenting behavior. Within an attachment perspective, I am particularly interested in the constructs of containment and segregated systems of thought and their links to disrupted mother-infant communication. I am also interested in understanding to which extent infant or child behavior may challenge the mother’s caregiving system sufficiently to dysregulate the attachment-caregiving system.


BA, Psychology, University of California - Berkeley, 1973

MA, Developmental Psychology, University of California - Berkeley, 1979

PhD, Developmental Psychology, University of California - Berkeley, 1984

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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