Laura Gallo, a new assistant professor in school counseling at the University of Iowa College of Education, is passionate about suicide prevention work within schools and training the next generation of school counselors.
Gallo received a bachelor’s degree from Central College in 1996 before working as an elementary teacher in various Iowa communities from 1996 to 2003. Gallo then received a master of arts degree from Iowa in 2005 and worked as a high school counselor at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa from 2005 to 2015. In 2016, Gallo received a doctorate from Iowa and began working as an assistant professor and School Counseling Program Coordinator at Boise State University, where she worked until 2021.
In her new position, Gallo says she is enjoying working with an excellent group of faculty who she’s known for many years and who are also passionate about the work they do. Gallo also says she’s enjoying working with students from all over the world and working with school counselors across the state of Iowa.
Gallo’s research focuses on suicide prevention within schools, including training future counselors in suicide assessment and intervention. Recently, she has begun to research mindfulness interventions that can be used for youth who have experienced trauma or who struggle with emotional dysregulation, a term used to describe an emotional response that is poorly regulated and does not fall within the traditionally accepted range of emotional reaction, also referred to as marked fluctuation of mood, mood swings, or labile mood.
“My goal is to prevent youth suicide as suicide rates continue to rise every year for children and adolescents” says Gallo. “If we can help children self-regulate, there is less chance they will get to the stage of suicide or suffer from extreme mental distress.”
Professionally, Gallo is most proud of a study she conducted with elementary school counselors on their experiences working with suicidal youth. This study was recently published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling.
“I felt this was an important population that had not been given enough time, attention, or training when it comes to suicide prevention,” says Gallo. “The school counselors who participated are desperate for training and services to help them feel better prepared to work with suicidal children. All of them had students who had attempted suicide in the past year.”
Gallo is committed to helping school counselors become suicide prevention experts, which includes conducting suicide risk assessments, doing outreach, and understanding how to help students in distress. She also wants to help train future school counselors and counselor educators.
Gallo knew she wanted to teach after working with Iowa as a site supervisor for its practicum and internship students in the counseling program while she was a practicing school counselor. It was in that role she realized teaching future school counselors was a unique way to make a difference in children’s lives.
“I love teaching and working with graduate students,” says Gallo. “I learn just as much from them as they do from me each year.”