University of Calgary

Deinera Exner-Cortens

  • Adjunct Associate Professor

Research Interests

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


Deinera Exner-Cortens is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, and is jointly appointed to the Department of Psychiatry, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. Dr. Exner-Cortens is also a full member in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, and an Associate Member in the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education. She holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology (Cornell University) and a Master of Public Health (Boston University). Dr. Exner-Cortens completed her CIHR-funded post-doctoral work at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's Centre for Prevention Science and with Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence in the University of Calgary's Faculty of Social Work. 

Dr. Exner-Cortens' research focuses on 1) evaluating healthy relationships/mental health promotion activities in school and community settings, 2) developing and evaluating implementation support tools for school-based mental health/healthy relationships service delivery; and 3) prevention of adolescent dating violence. In her work, Dr. Exner-Cortens collaborates with a number of community and research partners both provincially and nationally. Dr. Exner-Cortens’ teaching interests include research methods, youth development, and social determinants of health. She is also committed to student participation in research. Dr. Exner-Cortens currently holds an Early Career Award in Supporting Child and Youth Mental Health Outcomes in Alberta School Settings, sponsored by Alberta Health Services/PolicyWise.

Research and Scholarly Activity

Evaluating healthy relationships/mental health promotion programs in school and community settings

Developing and evaluating implementation support tools for school-based mental health/healthy relationships service delivery 

Understanding the role of pre-service and post-graduate education for building the healthy relationships capacity of teachers and social workers

Exploring outcomes and prevention of adolescent dating violence

Examining associations between masculinities and mental well-being for adolescent boys

Current Research

I am currently leading a five-year, mixed-methods evaluation (including quantitative, qualitative and arts-based methodologies) of a gender-transformative program for adolescent boys that aims to promote healthy relationships and positive mental health, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. I am also leading a SSHRC-funded study that will develop and evaluate a social-network informed coaching model to promote school-based mental health service delivery. Finally, I am collaborating on a Public Health Agency of Canada funded-project that will evaluate initiatives to promote the healthy relationships capacity of pre-service teachers and social workers.


2015-2016 Postdoctoral Scholar, Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary

2013-2015 Postdoctoral Scholar, Centre for Prevention Science, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

2014 PhD, Developmental Psychology, Cornell University

2011 MA, Human Development, Cornell University

2009 MPH, Social & Behavioral Science, Boston University

2007 BSc, Cellular, Molecular & Microbial Biology, University of Calgary

Professional and Community Associations

Research Community Member, Alberta Health Services Addiction and Mental Health SCN

RESOLVE Steering Committee Member

Research Partner, Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet)

American Public Health Association (Member)

Society for Prevention Research (Early Career Preventionists Network Steering Committee)

Society for Research on Adolescence (Member))

Awards (2012-present, selected)

Linda E. Saltzman New Investigator Award Finalist, Futures without Violence (2017)

Award for Curriculum Development, University of Calgary Teaching Awards (2017)

Hershel D. Thornburg Dissertation Award, Society for Research on Adolescence (2016)

Alice Wilson Award nominee, Royal Society of Canada (2014)

Media Work (2012-present)

Broadcast Interviews

Teen Dating Violence, CBC Radio

Teens Experiencing Dating Violence Face More Risk Later, Radio Canada International

Healthy Relationships, CTV News Calgary

Talk a Stand Against Bullying: Pink Shirt Day, Global News Morning

Teen Dating Abuse, Radio Health Journal

Teen Dating Violence Affects Adult Well-Being, Indiana Youth Institute Kids Count Radio Show

Teen Dating Violence and Outcomes in Young Adulthood, Hourly News Broadcast, CBS National Radio


Text Interviews

If a Teenager Has One Abusive Relationship, It’s Likely They’ll Experience Another, Washington Post

Violent Teen Relationships Linked to Future Abuse: U of C study, Metro News

Social Work Study Suggests Link Between Childhood Maltreatment and Working Memory, UToday

When Teen Dating Turns Dangerous, The Boston Globe

Teen Dating Violence Leaves Scars, Experts Say, Chicago Tribune

Why Teen Victims of Dating Violence Can’t Break the Cycle, Health & Family

Teen Dating Violence Affects Well-Being in Adulthood, USA Today

Publications from 2014-Present (selected)

*denotes trainee)


Exner-Cortens, D., Spiric, V., Crooks, C. V., *Syeda, M., & Wells, L. (2019). Predictors of youth healthy relationships program implementation quality in a sample of Canadian middle school teachers. Canadian Journal of School Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0829573519857422


Exner-Cortens, D., Wells, L., Lee, L., & Spiric, V. (2019).  Building a culture of intimate partner violence prevention in Alberta, Canada through the promotion of healthy youth relationships. Prevention Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11121-019-01011-7


Exner-Cortens, D., Hurlock, D., *Wright, A., Carter, R., & Krause, P. (2019). Preliminary evaluation of a gender-transformative healthy relationships program for adolescent boys. Psychology of Men and Masculinity. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/men0000204


Exner-Cortens, D., Wolfe, D. A., Crooks, C. V., & Chiodo, D. (2019). A preliminary randomized controlled evaluation of a universal healthy relationships program for youth. Canadian Journal of School Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/10829573518821508


Crooks, C. V.,Jaffe, P. G., *Dunlop, C., *Kerry, A., & Exner-Cortens, D. (2019). Preventing gender-based violence among adolescents and young adults: Lessons from 25 years of program development and evaluation. Violence Against Women. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1077801218815778


Corcoran, L., Exner-Cortens, D., & Wells, L. (2019) Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities: An interdisciplinary graduate program. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 31(2), 287-298.


Jenney, A., & Exner-Cortens, D. (2018). Toxic masculinity and mental health in young women: An analysis of Thirteen Reasons Why we need to be talking about consent and sexual violence when considering acts of self-harm. Affilia. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0886109918762492


Crooks, C. V., Exner-Cortens, D., Siebold, W., Moore, K., Grassgreen, L., Owen, P., Rausch, A., & Rosier, M. (2018). The role of relationships in collaborative partnership success: Lessons from the Alaska Fourth R project. Evaluation and Program Planning, 67, 97-104.


Exner-Cortens, D., & Cummings, N. (2017). Bystander-based sexual violence prevention with college athletes: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0886260517733279


Crooks, C. V., Exner-Cortens, D., *Burm, S., *Lapointe, A., & Chiodo, D. (2017). Mentoring for First Nations, Métis and Inuit adolescents: Promoting positive mental health. Journal of Primary Prevention, 38, 87-104.


Exner-Cortens, D., Eckenrode, J., Bunge, J., & Rothman, E. (2017). Re-victimization after physical and psychological adolescent dating violence in a matched, national sample of youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60, 176-183.


Claussen, C., Wells, L., Exner-Cortens, D., Abboud, R., & Turner, A. (2016). The role of community-based organizations in school-based violence prevention programming: An action research project. Cogent Social Sciences, 2, 1238609.


Exner-Cortens, D., *Gill, L., & Eckenrode, J. (2016a). Measurement of adolescent dating violence: A comprehensive review (Part 1, Behaviors). Aggression and Violent Behavior, 27, 64-78.


Exner-Cortens, D., *Gill, L., & Eckenrode, J. (2016b). Measurement of adolescent dating violence: A comprehensive review (Part 2, Attitudes). Aggression and Violent Behavior, 27, 93-106.


Whitlock, J., Exner-Cortens, D., & Purington, A. (2014). Assessment of non-suicidal self-injury: Development and initial validation of the Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Assessment Tool (NSSI-AT). Psychological Assessment, 26, 935-946.


Exner-Cortens, D. (2014). Theory and teen dating violence victimization: Considering adolescent development. Developmental Review, 34, 168-188.



  • - Developmental Psychology
    Cornell University, 2014
  • MA - Human Development
    Cornell University, 2011
  • MPH - Social and Behavioral Science
    Boston University, 2009
  • BSc - Cellular, Molecular & Microbial Biology
    University of Calgary, 2007
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