Research Lab at Portland Psychotherapy
A core part of Portland Psychotherapy’s mission is the conduct of scientific research intended to help develop new treatments for people who are suffering. Most behavioral research is conducted in university settings and dependent on federal grant funding. Politics can therefore play a major role in determining what research gets funded, and sometimes this is at odds with scientific advancement. In contrast, Portland Psychotherapy uses a unique business model that provides funding for its research through its clinical services, which allows our researchers to function more independently.
Our research lab has dedicated research funding, space, equipment, and staff. Our internal grant program offers additional support to our researchers. We also host a postdoctoral fellowship affording research opportunities, and offer mentorship to volunteer research assistants working on undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Purpose and Aims
We use contextual behavioral science and affective science to find new and more effective ways of alleviating psychological suffering and helping people live richer and fuller lives. To do this, we conduct both basic and applied research with the aim of helping the scientific community better describe, predict, and influence behavior with precision, scope, and depth. We also aim to create an environment that nurtures the personal and professional development of behavioral scientists.
Our ongoing research includes a variety of projects relevant to the following topic areas:
- Psychedelics and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy
- Stigma and substance use disorder
- The effects of social signaling, interpersonal behavior, emotion regulation, and emotion in highly shame prone and self-critical people
- Processes of change relevant to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Processes of therapeutic change related to self-compassion, shame, and self-criticism
Publications from the Lab
The findings of our researchers are shared with the larger scientific community and the world through publications (listed here) and through presentations at scientific conferences.
Volunteering to be a Research Assistant
We are pleased to be able to offer experience and mentorship to students who are interested in learning more about conducting psychological research. Ideal candidates will have a strong interest in continuing education and a career in a relevant field (e.g., psychology researcher, evidence-based clinical practitioner, etc.), and would typically be undergraduate or graduate psychology students.
The work involved would depend to some extent on your abilities and interests. Tasks range from collecting data from participants to data analysis to writing. Volunteer research assistants are expected to be available for at least 8 hours per week for at least 6 months. Volunteers are welcome to expand their time dedication and contributions from there depending on their abilities and availability.
If you are able to make this level of commitment and are interested in a volunteer RA position, please prepare your CV or resume and fill out our Interested in RA Position form.
Volunteering to be a Research Participant
If you are interested in making a contribution by participating in psychological research, you can learn more by visiting our clinic website to see studies that are currently open to volunteers. We appreciate your help!
Current Lab Members
is the Director of the anxiety clinic at Portland Psychotherapy. He conducts research on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention as applied to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior Disorders.
Sarah Smith, B.S. (she/her) received her degree in Psychology from Pacific University in 2020. She is currently the Clinical Research Coordinator at Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research, and Training Center and intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology to become a psychedelic-assisted therapist. The primary research projects she is involved with focus on psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, social anxiety disorder, and shame.
Will Lucas, B.S. (he/him) is a Clinical Research Coordinator at Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research, and Training Center. He graduated from Western Oregon University with a degree in Chemistry and has since demonstrated a strong commitment to the advancement of psychedelic therapies. Notably, he contributed to the Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Campaign in 2020 and managed a local initiative to protect Psilocybin Services in 2022. Today, his work is informed by his experience in project management and coursework on Clinical Research Coordination through the CITI Program. Will has a long-term goal of researching altered states of consciousness and continuing to advocate for policy reform in this area.
Angelica Spata, B.A. (she/her) received her BA in Psychology from Cal Poly Pomona. She works as a Research Assistant with Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research, and Training Center. Her research focuses on psychedelics, psychological flexibility, and substance use. Angelica’s aim is to holistically approach mental health treatments and is interested in psychedelic-assisted therapy for management of addiction and co-occurring disorders. She plans on pursuing a career as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
Past Lab Members
Past Postdoctoral Fellows
2021-2022 Han Tran, Ph.D. Went on to staff position at Portland Psychotherapy
2019-2020 M. Kati Lear, Ph.D. (University of Wyoming). Went on to be employed as: staff psychologist at the Sacramento VA until she transitioned to Research Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy.
2014-2015 – Melissa Platt, Ph.D. (University of Oregon) Went on to be employed as: Research Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy until she went into private practice.
2012-2013 – Scott Rower, Ph.D. (Alliant University) Went on to be employed as: Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy until he transition into private practice in Hood River, OR.
2011-2012 – Paul Guinther, Ph.D. (University of New Mexico) Went on to be employed as: Research Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy until he went on to work at an outpatient clinic.
2010-2011 – Richard Nobles, Ph.D. (University of Washington) Went on to be employed as: Staff psychologist at Truman Medical Center – Lakewood Counseling in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at University of Missouri – Kansas City.
2009-2010 – Brian Thompson, Ph.D. (University of Montana) Went on to be employed as: Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy.
2008-2009 – Chad Drake, Ph.D. (University of Mississippi) Went on to be employed as: Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University.
Past Research Coordinator
Christina Chwyl, B.A. Christina was our full time research coordinator from 2016-2019. She received her BA in Psychology from Stanford University and plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. She entered graduate school for clinical psychology at Drexel University in 2019.
Celia Lowe graduated from the University of Oregon where she studied Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Psychology. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology.
Andillon Del Pesco is an undergraduate at Portland State University currently earning a BS in Psychology and plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology.
Josh Kaplan, B.A. Josh began his academic career in psychology with a BA from Lewis & Clark College, and he is currently working towards his doctorate at Pacific University’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program.
Marissa Viramontes, B.A. Marissa comes to Portland Psychotherapy Research Lab with a BA in Psychology from the University of Portland. Her broad interests include emotional regulation and resilience
True Overlie received a BA in Psychology with a focus on neuroscience and fine arts from the University of Portland. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical neuroscience.
Sean Robertson Sean is an undergraduate psychology student at George Fox University. He hopes to enter graduate school after earning BS and would like to focus his research on the topic of addictions. Active May 2015 – January, 2016.
2015-2016 – Rebekah Harding Rebekah was an undergraduate student at George Fox University where she is pursuing degrees in both Psychology and Social Work.
2014-2015: Shagun Pawar, B.A. Shagun volunteered with us while working towards her doctorate in psychology as a health track student at Pacific University. She received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder in psychology and sociology.
2014-2015 – Carl Gauthier, B.A. Carl volunteered with us while working towards his doctorate at Pacific University. His research interests included suicidology and the application of psychology in legal settings.
2013-2015 – Megan Cheslock, B.A. – Megan earned her B.A. in Psychology from California State University in 2012 and would like to attend graduate school to study clinical and cognitive neuropsychology. She went on to become a paid research assistant at the Portland VA.
2014-2015 – Dylan Vaughn, B.A. – While volunteering at Portland Psychotherpy, Dylan earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Pacific University. He went on to work in a primate research lab, and he plans to attend graduate school
2012-2014 – Jackie Potter – Jackie worked with us as an undergraduate student at Lewis and Clark, with the intention of going on to attend graduate school.
2013-2014 – Monica Bahan, B.A. – Monica is applying to graduate school in psychology.
2012-2013 – Rob Meeker, B.A. – Rob is currently studying Community Psychology in the Applied Psychology Ph.D. Program at Portland State University.
2012-2012 – Reneee Cavanagh – Renee has completed a psychology Internship at VA South Texas and is working on her dissertation.
2011-2012 – Molly Ellis – Molly went on to graduate school as a nurse practitioner at Oregon Health Sciences University.
2011-2013 – Petra Horn-Keller – Petra is now working as a bench jeweler for a small company in Seattle while pursuing a teaching certificate to teach secondary art education.