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Seth Kurzban - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Seth Kurzban Seth Kurzban

Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Social work expert, theorizing interventions for severe and persistent mental illness, homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse.






University of Southern California Seth Kurzban about Community Awareness Psycho Education (CAPE)



Seth Kurzban was promoted from a post-doctoral fellow to assistant professor in 2009. He recently received his PhD from Columbia University School of Social Work, where he was named the Willie G. Perry Scholar for Outstanding Potential and the Evelyn Burns Scholar for Public Policy.

Kurzban has worked in a variety of clinical and research settings focused on helping individuals dealing with severe and persistent mental illness, chronic homelessness or incarceration, and substance abuse. He has worked for Westat -- a corporation providing research services to government agencies and other entities -- on policy analysis for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and National Institute of Mental Health as the evaluation coordinator for the Hartford Geriatric Faculty Scholars Program.

His current work focuses on developing and testing an intervention, Community Awareness Psychoeducation (CAPE), designed to help individuals improve their self-care and wellness, reduce the social isolation associated with mental illness and help improve their ability to live in their communities. As a post-doctoral fellow, Kurzban won a Larson endowment to adapt the group intervention for use at a Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health clinic for women with mental illness who are re-integrating into the community upon their release from jail.

Education (3)

School of Social Work, Columbia University: PhD, Social Work 2009

Columbia University: MA, Social Work 2007

Columbia University: MSW, Social Work 1998

Areas of Expertise (4)

Instrument Design and Testing Homelessness and Incarceration Practice and Policy Mental Health (Severe Mental Illness) Practice and Policy Intervention Research & Program Evaluation

Industry Expertise (10)

Health Care - Services Health Care - Facilities Public Policy Mental Health Care Writing and Editing Research Education/Learning Health and Wellness Program Development Health Care - Providers

Accomplishments (1)

Mental Health Services Research Fellow (professional)

Awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health


Articles & Publications (3)

Mindfulness-based treatment for people with severe mental illness: A literature review American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Lisa Davis


This article provides a synthesis of current findings from existing mindfulness-based treatment interventions and their relevance to individuals with severe mental illness (SMI). A mindfulness-oriented approach to coping with SMI goes beyond symptom management and exemplifies key recovery principles such as self-determination and resilience. Although previous studies and critical reviews provide evidence of a relationship between mindfulness training and positive mental health and physical outcomes for various populations, this is the first critical review to systematically examine the efficacy of these methods in treating SMI. Evidence suggests that this approach shows promise in reducing symptom-associated distress, increasing feelings of self-efficacy, and reducing psychiatric hospitalizations for individuals with psychotic disorders. This review also reveals several ongoing challenges in the field including the need for more rigorously controlled studies, further operationalization of the construct of mindfulness and evidence of construct validity, and greater insight into the specific mechanisms of change underlying mindful awareness. Overall, this innovative approach warrants further exploration, having been used as a component of existing evidence-based practices or provided in a stand-alone manner to promote adaptive coping and wellness among individuals with SMI.

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Paying human subjects in research: where are we, how did we get here, and now what? Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics


Both international and federal regulations exist to ensure that scientists perform research on human subjects in an environment free of coercion and in which the benefits of the research are commensurate with the risks involved. Ensuring that these conditions hold is difficult, and perhaps even more so when protocols include the issue of monetary compensation of research subjects. The morality of paying human research subjects has been hotly debated for over 40 years, and the grounds for this debate have ranged from discussion of legal rights, economic rights, philosophical principles of vulnerability and altruism to bioethical concepts of consent, best-interest determination, and justice theory. However, the thought surrounding these issues has evolved over time, and the way we think about the role of the human research subject today is markedly different than the way we thought in the past. Society first thought of the research subject as an altruist, necessarily giving of his time to benefit society as a whole. As time progressed, many suggested that the subject should not need to sacrifice himself for research: if something goes wrong, someone should compensate the subject for injuries. The concept of redress evolved into a system in which subjects were offered money as an inducement to participate in research, sometimes merely to offset the monetary costs of participation, but sometimes even to mitigate the risks of the study. This article examines ethical and legal conversations regarding compensation from the 1960s through today, examining theories of the ethics of compensation both comparatively and critically. In conclusion, we put forward an ethical framework for treating paid research subjects, with an attempt to use this framework as a means of resolving some of the more difficult problems with paying human subjects in research.

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Vocational, social, and cognitive rehabilitation for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia: a review of recent research and trends Current Psychiatry Reports,


A growing body of evidence suggests that social and vocational interventions effectively enhance social and vocational functioning for individuals with schizophrenia. In this review, we first consider recent advances in vocational and social rehabilitation, then examine current findings on neurocognition, social cognition, and motivation with regard to the impact these elements have on rehabilitation interventions and outcomes. A critical evaluation of recent studies examining standalone treatment approaches and hybrid approaches that integrate components such as cognitive remediation and skills training reveals several ongoing challenges within the field. Greater understanding of the differential impact of various approaches, methods that may increase the magnitude of treatment effects, and the generalization of treatment effects to community functioning are among crucial areas for future research. Overall, these treatments hold promise in improving psychosocial functioning and helping individuals with schizophrenia acquire important life skills.

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