Faculty Spotlight: Iva Naydenova

Associate Professor Helps Her Students Conduct, Present and Publish Research

Faculty Spotlight: Iva Naydenova

Since coming to Gardner-Webb University in 2009, Dr. Iva Naydenova’s focus has been to help students conduct research. “My background as a social psychologist—with a focus on relationship science—allows me to inform and guide my students with research that deals with projects in the area of close relationships,” she said.

Her students have received local and national awards, and their work has been published in scholarly journals. They have presented at regional conferences and been accepted into prestigious graduate schools. A few of the topics include methods for improving relationships; a comparison of the communication skills of singles with those in committed relationships; the influence of Disney movies on romantic relationships; and more recently, therapeutic photography.

Naydenova has followed the work of renowned researcher, Dr. John Gottman, for several years. She is Level 1 certified in his method for couples therapy and recently traveled to Seattle, Wash., to attend a training taught by Gottman and his wife, Julie Gottman, a clinical psychologist and researcher. “I wanted to inform my teaching and be able to translate what I learned from Gottman to my students,” she shared. “I wanted to be able to use the methodology he uses with my students and conduct research the same way.”

Gottman is one of the researches she features in the course she created at GWU, “Fatal Attractions.” The class also provides a survey of classic research and looks at other cutting-edge research in the field of close relationships.

The class has become one of the most popular with students. “I think it’s because it gives them actionable skills that they can apply to their relationships, such as the tools to be able to handle conflict, communicate better, etc.,” Naydenova observed. “Also, it’s an interesting topic many students can relate to, as many of them are in the developmental stage where they navigate romantic relationships, possibly dealing with painful breakups, while away from home and their support systems. This class helps them with all those things and introduces them to basic skills and approaches for improving their relationships.”

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