Vardha Kharbanda, MA

Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Student @IllinoisTech

About me

I am a Ph.D. student studying clinical psychology at Illinois Tech. I was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. My interdisciplinary background and training in psychology inform my mindful and multicultural approach. I am passionate about minority mental health with a stronger focus on minority and marginalized populations.Being a first-generation graduate student, I have experiential knowledge about the challenges and hardships minority communities face in academia. Thus, I strongly advocate for restructuring existing literature to make it inclusive and responsive to the minorities and underserved populations. My overarching goal is to work with students, behavioral health providers, and experts from diverse disciplines to make high-quality mental health care and education accessible for all across India.When I am not reading or geeking out on the latest technology trends, I like to spend my time cooking, hiking, traveling, blogging, and asking restaurants to make my food extra extra extra spicy (yet it is statistically proven that 9/10 times I will be disappointed). I am multilingual and fluent in various South Asian languages. The international exposure I have received throughout these years has motivated me to be a culturally competent psychologist, researcher, and educator.


Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology, Clinical Psychology August 2022-Present

M.A., Adelphi University, Psychology (SPECL: SUDs)
August 2019-August 2021

B.A., University of Delhi, Psychology
May 2016-May 2019


I study human motivation and well-being using proponents of self-determination theory. I am interested in exploring the impact of stressors such as discrimination, stigma, and stereotypes on help-seeking behaviors, levels of self-compassion, and overall behavioral and physical health within minority communities.It is interesting that various social, personal, and environmental factors that act as a protective shield for some individuals are responsible for putting other individuals at risk of developing maladaptive behaviors. I wish to explore such differences in the development of disinhibiting behaviors such as substance use, risky sex, and self-harm.For detailed information about the papers, conference posters, presentation, and outreach work please refer to my CV linked below

Current Projects

CEnR: Maternal & Child Outcomes for Teen Moms in Mississippi

The project aims to identify psychosocial, cultural, and environmental determinants of exercise behavior among pregnant and postpartum adolescents enrolled in the Mississippi Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. The data gathered will be utilized to promote the adoption and maintenance of antenatal exercise among adolescent WIC clients.

Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI), Substance Use & Relationship Dependency Among American College Students

The online-survey based project aims to examine the association between substance use, demographic characteristics, relationship characteristics, and non-suicidal self-injury and identified the underlying socio-cultural and familial aspects that act as either risk and protective agents in developing substance use and NSSI behaviors.

Understanding religiosity as a Protective factor Against Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI), Substance Use Among American College Students

The online-survey based project designed to explore religiosity as a protective factor against self-harm and buffer against maladaptive behaviors: substance use.

Past Projects

The Psychosocial Effects of the Blockade on the Wellbeing of Family and Children in Qatar: Stress, Coping and Resiliency

The project aimed to explore the psychosocial effects of the 2017 blockade on the families of Qatari nationals and residents. The goal was to Identify and assess perceived available support systems and coping strategies that best predict the level of psychological well-being- distress and resiliency - among affected family members of Qatari nationals and residents.

Decolonizing the curriculum: focus on anti-racist pedagogy

A thematic research review focusing on delinking colonial thought, social change, media literacy, and intersectionality in an attempt to redesign the curriculum to make it inclusive to gender, ethnic and racial minorities.

AIM 4 Teen Moms

A positive youth development program that encourages teen mothers to emphasize control over their future, and reproductive choices and defines motherhood as an identity strength rather than a stigma. In the long term, the program aims to reduce rates of unprotected sex leading to fewer repeat pregnancies and teen births.


Posters and Presentations

  • Kharbanda, V. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on marital stability: A systematic review. Doha International Family Institute Conference on Marriage: Formation and Constituents of Stability

  • Kharbanda, V. (2020). Parenting and attachment security in Indian cultures. Bharat Panchal Dialogues (Department of mental health and behavioral sciences, Fortis healthcare limited.

  • Kharbanda, V. (2020). Understanding the relationship between non-suicidal self-injury, substance use, and family characteristics in American youth. The 18th annual Scholarship and Creative Works Conference. Adelphi University

Published in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Kharbanda, V. (2020). Case study inquiry on psychosocial outcomes of uninvolved parenting in the Indian context. Journal of Sociology of the Family.

  • Kharbanda, V. (2020). Understanding issues in education through media portrayals from the lens of the movie 3 idiots. Journal of Psychology & Education.

  • Abu-Ras, W.; Elzamzamy,K.; Burghul, M.M.; Al-Merri, N.H.; Alajrad, M.; Kharbanda, V. Gendered Citizenship, Inequality, and Well-Being: The Experience of Cross-National Families in Qatar during the Gulf Cooperation Council Crisis (2017–2021). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 6638. https://

In Prepration

  • **Kharbanda, V. **, Legate N., Springer C. Understanding the relationship between non-suicidal self-injury and substance use among American college students. Adelphi University.

  • **Kharbanda, V. **Media portrayals of disability: analyzing the “Golmaal” series.

  • **Kharbanda, V. **, Legate N., Springer C. Understanding religiosity as a Protective factor Against Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI), Substance Use Among American College Students.


At the core of my teaching philosophy lies the belief that education should be a liberating and accessible experience for all. As a passionate psychology instructor, I am dedicated to fostering an inclusive and open learning environment where students can freely explore the depths of the human mind without constraints. I firmly advocate for the idea that knowledge should be freely shared and disseminated, as it empowers individuals to think critically, challenge assumptions, and ultimately contribute positively to society. Drawing from various pedagogical approaches, I strive to cultivate a dynamic classroom atmosphere that encourages active participation, collaborative discussions, and practical applications of psychological principles. Just as I once found inspiration and guidance from educators who shaped my journey, I am committed to being a mentor and guide for my students, nurturing their intellectual growth and enabling them to realize their full potential. It is my aspiration to become the catalyst that ignites a lifelong passion for learning, instilling in students the confidence to forge their own paths and make meaningful contributions to the world.I have had the opportunity of teaching the following classes to undergraduate students at Illinois TechIntroduction to Psychological Science (PSYCH 221)
Summer 2023
Introduction to Psychopathology (PSYCH 303)
Fall 2023

Contact me

Click on the links below to connect with me!