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Sandra G. Zakowski, PhD


Illinois School of Professional Psychology

Programs/Classes Taught:

  • PSYD 705 Biological Bases of Behavior
  • PSYD 735 Clinical Supervision
  • PSYD 723 Research Methods
  • PSYD 728 Psychology and Trauma
  • PSYD 849 CRP Proposal Development
  • PSYD 823 Therapy Practicum Seminar
  • PSYD 826 Advanced Practicum Seminar

Areas of Expertise:

Trauma, Refugee Psychology, International Psychology, Health Psychology


Dr. Zakowski is a professor in Clinical Psychology and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Illinois. She obtained her Ph.D. in Medical Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and subsequently completed a Clinical Respecialization at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  She has been teaching for over 20 years, and prior to joining the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, was a faculty member at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.  She also worked as mental health program director for Heartland Alliance in Northern Iraq and helped develop a Master’s program in Clinical Psychology at Koya University where she also taught. 

Her clinical and academic interests focus on trauma, refugee psychology and international psychology.  She is particularly interested in cross-cultural applications of trauma treatment and in the psychological consequences of human rights abuses and forced migration.  She worked as a therapist at the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture for about seven years and continues to volunteer there.  She provides pro bono forensic psychological evaluations for asylum cases and conducts clinical consultations and training workshops internationally on topics related to trauma, the psychological consequences of forced migration, as well as health psychology.


  • Clinical Psychology Respecialization, Department of Clinical Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology,Chicago, Illinois.
  • Ph.D., Medical Psychology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland                  
  • Licence de Psychologie and DEUG (Diplôme d’Etudes Universitaires Générales),  Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines, Université de Nice, France

Research and Interests:

Her current research investigates psychological trauma related to genocide, political persecution, and gender-based violence.   She is a member of the Scientists-on-Call program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has contributed scientific consultations for international organizations documenting human rights abuses. Prior to completing her clinical respecialization, her work was focused on health psychology research in the areas of psychoneuroimmunology, psycho-oncology, and the psychobiological effects of chronic and acute stress.


Recent Publications: 

Ibrahim, H., Muhammed, R., Ismail, A.A., & Zakowski, S.G. (under review). Gender, trauma, and cultural expression of distress: A mixed methods study of survivors of the Anfal genocidal operation in Iraqi Kurdistan. BMC International Health and Human Rights.

Bullock, M. & Zakowski, S.G. (under review).  Conducting psychological research across borders: Maintaining scientific rigor and safeguarding human rights. In N. Rubin & R. Flores (eds.). Handbook of Psychology and Human Rights.  Cambridge University Press.

Gorman, W., & Zakowski, S.G. (2018). Therapeutic challenges when counseling survivors of torture.  In S.A. Anderson & M. C. Nussbaum (eds.) Confronting Torture: Essays on the Ethics, Legality, History, and Psychology of Torture Today. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL.

Jensen-Johansen MB, O’Toole MS, Christensen S, Valdimarsdottir H, Zakowski S, Bovbjerg DH, et al. (2018). Expressive writing intervention and self-reported physical health out-comes – Results from a nationwide randomized controlled trial with breast cancer patients. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0192729.

Wildt, H, Umanos, J., Khanzada, N.K.,,Saleh, M.;,Rahman, H., & Zakowski, S.G. (2017). War trauma, distress and coping among Afghan civilians presenting at a primary health center in Kabul.  International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 6, 81-100.

Jensen-Johansen, M.B., Christensen, S., Valdimarsdottir, H., Zakowski, S.G., Bovbjerg, D., Bonde-Jensen, A., & Zachariae, R. (2012).  Effects of expressive writing intervention on cancer-related distress in breast cancer patients: Results from a nationwide randomized clinical trial. Psycho-oncology, DOI: 10.1002/pon.3193.

Zakowski, S.G., Herzer, M., Barrett, S., Gerfen, J., & Beckman, N. (2011). Who benefits from emotional expression? An examination of personality differences among gynecological cancer patients participating in a randomized controlled emotional disclosure intervention trial.  British Journal of Psychology, 101, 355-372.

Paderta, A., & Zakowski, S.G. (2010). Internationalizing the curriculum: Lessons from a student service learning project in Kigali, Rwanda.  International Psychology Bulletin, 14, 23-25. (Non-peer reviewed)

Herzer, M. Umfress, K., Aljadeff, G., Ghai, K., & Zakowski, S.G. (2009). Interactions with parents and friends among chronically ill children: Examining social networks. The Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 30, 499-508.

Schmaus, B., Laubmeier, K., Boquiren, V., Herzer, M., Zakowski, S.G. (2008).  Gender and stress: Differential psychophysiological reactivity to stress reexposure in the laboratory. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 69, 101-106.

Herzer, M., & Zakowski, S.G. (2006).  The relations between threat appraisal and social constraints in cancer patients and their spouses. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 549-560.

Quartana, P.J., Laubmeier, K.K., Zakowski, S.G. (2006). Psychological Adjustment Following Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer: An Examination of the Moderating Role of Positive and Negative Emotional Expressivity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 487-498.

Quartana, P., Schmaus, B.J., & Zakowski, S.G. (2005). Neuroticism and spousal constraints in cancer patients: The moderating effects of dispositional emotional expressivity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(4), 769-776.

Zakowski, S.G., Ramati, A., Morton, C., Johnson, P., & Flanigan, R (2004).  Written emotional disclosure buffers the effects of negative social interactions on distress in cancer patients. Health Psychology, 23, 555–563.

Contact Information:

Email :
phone/fax: (312) 261-3102


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