PD&A Expert Spotlight: Janine Shelby, Ph.D.

Dr. Shelby is a trauma psychologist, with expertise derived from a career dedicated to the study, assessment, and treatment of trauma survivors. Dr. Shelby is an Associate Clinical Professor at UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine and was honored to serve as the 2017-2018 Drake Guest Professor and Distinguished Fellow at Kobe College in Hyogo, Japan, where she resided, taught, and conducted research. In addition to her trauma-focused academic and clinical work, Dr. Shelby has considerable experience as a forensic consultant and expert witness in areas related to child sexual and physical abuse, adult rape, and psychological assessment.

Park Dietz related:

I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Shelby when we were each working on a civil lawsuit involving over a hundred plaintiffs.  I watched her field questions from every lawyer in the room with reason, science, grace, and the kind of wisdom that only comes from decades of experience in which the insights gained from real-world responsibilities are constantly challenged by journal editors, students, and cross-examiners.  I recruited her to PD&A because of these traits and her ability to communicate clearly without technical jargon. 

Only later did I come to appreciate that it was in part her work in busy crisis services in Los Angeles and the post-disaster chaos of more than a dozen countries abroad that have given her such an exceptional ability to remain calm under fire.

Dr. Shelby began her career as the Clinical Director of the Santa Monica-UCLA Rape Treatment Center, where she oversaw adult outpatient psychotherapy services, school-based education and rape prevention programs, and emergency crisis response systems for sexual assault survivors. Much of her work focused on coordinating interdisciplinary medico-legal services while promoting trauma-informed, psychologically sensitive responses to sexual assault survivors. In her subsequent professional role at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Shelby served as the Director of Training and Lead Forensic Interviewer in the Department of Pediatrics child advocacy service. There, she conducted and supervised child abuse forensic interviews, provided criminal court testimony, and collaborated with law enforcement and child protective services personnel to promote child welfare.

After transitioning to the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Shelby founded Harbor-UCLA’s Child Trauma Clinic and directed it for more than a decade until her retirement. In this specialty clinic, children, adolescents, and their caregivers received evidence-based, trauma-informed mental health care following sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, accidental injury, community violence, and other adverse events. At Harbor-UCLA, Dr. Shelby taught and supervised hundreds of psychology and psychiatry trainees as she and they provided trauma-informed care to thousands of young survivors. Concurrently, Dr. Shelby directed the Child and Adolescent Psychological Assessment Program, through which mental health professionals were trained to administer and interpret psychological assessment instruments.

With 50 peer-reviewed presentations and publications, as well as 30 additional publications, Dr. Shelby’s work has been influential to child-focused clinicians seeking to recognize common posttraumatic responses, implement research-based approaches to clinical care, and provide culturally and developmentally sensitive posttraumatic interventions. She has delivered more than 200 presentations in the US, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.

Dr. Shelby has been awarded grant funding to study the psychological effects on involuntarily sedated rape victims (funded by the Rape Foundation) and to studyJapanese therapists’ practices and attitudes regarding child-focused mental health treatments (funded by Kobe College and the Japanese Cultural Exchange).

As a consultant and humanitarian, Dr. Shelby has worked and volunteered locally, nationally, and in more than a dozen countries abroad following disasters, war, terrorism, and other adverse events. She was a long-term American Red Cross volunteer, consulted for the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, and contributed to the Psychological First Aid protocol for disaster and terrorism mental health response.

Dr. Shelby has been a licensed psychologist since 1997. Following her doctorate from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Child Psychology through the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She is a trained child forensic interviewer, a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, and certified in the practice/training of several evidence-based treatments for trauma survivors.