Ginny Focht-New

Ginny Focht-New, PhD

Clinical Assistant Professor


Research Interests

Issues of trauma, health teaching, mental health especially with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Courses Taught

HBSE I and II, Research Methods, Interpersonal Processes, Social Work Practice and People with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities, Treating Trauma

I began working as an adjunct faculty on Widener’s Harrisburg campus in 2006.  HBSE II was my main interest and focus.  Then an offer was made to teach research first to the Master’s students then also to the Doctoral students.  This was a very exciting opportunity! While my background is in nursing, my work has focused on supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a marginalized and oppressed population, for over 40 years.

My main focus as a faculty takes a learner-centered approach.  I believe that students learn when new information is presented in an interactive manner.  Students are encouraged to take an active role in their education.  Relating academic information to practice is important in my teaching strategies.  I believe that students need to know how new knowledge is important to their every day work and personal lives.  I enjoy teaching topics that students struggle to find interesting.  Overall, I love teaching and learning with the students!

In addition to working at Widener I maintain a small therapy and consultant practice that allows me to bring my clinical experience and examples into the classroom. Social work practices and values are at the center of my practice and educational approaches.  Students are encouraged to view people from the person’s perspective, experiences, and environment; understand and develop people’s strengths to learn address their own challenges; and view people with empathy and compassion.

I teach Human Behavior in the Social Environment II, Interpersonal Processes, Research Methods, Data Analysis, Trauma elective, and an elective about people with IDD in the Master’s program, and Qualitative Research in the Doctoral program.  


  • PhD in Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA. 
  • Dissertation titled – “A Transformation Process – Health Teaching by Nurses to Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.”
  • MSN in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Phila, PA
  • BSN, Widener University, Chester, PA


  • ANCC – Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist in 1996
  • DDNA – Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurses

Professional Activities

  • Volunteer to Project Homeless Connect in Harrisburg.
  • Self employed family, individual, and couples therapist. Current practice is mainly with adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, which other therapists will not provide services to.
  • Consultant to a variety of facilities providing services to adults with intellectual/ developmental disabilities who have had traumatic experiences and are dually diagnosed with mental illness. Have provided services in PA, NJ, NY, CA, MT, and Canada.
  • Legal Expert on cases in PA, NJ, and NY
  • Residential agency for persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities for 18 years in positions of Nurse, Director of Nursing, Assistant Director, and Director

Published Articles

  • Focht-New, G. (2012). Transformation through health teaching for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities: A qualitative study. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
  • Focht-New, G., Barol, B., Clements, P.T., & Milliken, T. (April, 2008). Persons with developmental disabilities exposed to interpersonal violence and crime: Approaches to intervention. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care: The Journal of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses, 44, 89-98.
  • Focht-New, G., Clements, P.T., Barol, B., Service, K. & Faulkner, M. (Jan. 2008). Persons with developmental disabilities exposed to interpersonal violence and crime: The impact of intrapsychic trauma. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care: The Journal for Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses, 44, 3-13.
  • Focht-New, G., & Clements, P.T. (2005). A review of Guidebook on Helping Persons with Mental Retardation Mourn by Jeffrey Kauffman. New York: Baywood Publishing Company, 2005. 124 pp. (ISBN 0-89503-300-3.)  Review for Journal of Death Studies.
  • Focht-New, V. (2004). Expanding our expectations: Individual and group counseling as effective therapy with people who have disabilities. Positive Approaches, 6(2), 1-10.
  • Clements, P. & Focht-New, G. (2004). Grief in the shadows: Exploring loss and bereavement in people with developmental disabilities, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 25, 799-808.
  • Focht-New, V. (1996), Beyond Abuse: Treatment approaches for people with disabilities, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 17, 427-438.

Special Recognition

  • Dean's Award, Widener University, School of Nursing Doctoral Students – 2010
  • Lillian Sholtis Brunner Award for Innovative Practice in Nursing,
  • University of Pennsylvania Alumni – May, 1998
  • Dean's Award, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing Masters' Students – 1994