Research Program

Our Current Studies

Not everyone experiences a traumatic event such as a car accident, sexual assault, or natural disaster in the same way. Although some may recovery over time, others may continue to experience symptoms months and even years after the traumatic event. Indeed, individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder often experience involuntary retrieval of horrific memories, including intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares for months or even years following the trauma. We are committed to better understanding how PTSD develops, its persistence over time, and how to better tailor our clinical interventions to improve clinical outcomes.

Understanding the Etiology and Maintenance of PTSD

In the Era of the #MeToo Movement: Memory, Sexual Assault, and Problematic Drinking on Campus
Principal Investigator: Emma PeConga, B.A.

The goal of this online longitudinal study is to understand common patterns of sexual assault narrative recall and their link to more basic memory processing mechanisms such as patterns of recall of other autobiographical events, normal forgetting processes, and general working memory in college-aged women.
Specifically, this research investigates memory functioning over time: examining trauma narrative recall; information processing deficits like autobiographical memory and retrieval-induced forgetting; the linkage of information processing deficits and trauma narrative recall; and predictors of memory dysfunction, specifically examining the moderation effect of alcohol use.

Undergraduate Opportunities Available (Psych 499)

We typically have a number of opportunities available for undergraduate research assistants, typically between 6-9 hours per week and asking for at least a two to three quarter commitment. Please call (206) 685-3617 and, if you leave a message, clearly indicate that you are an undergraduate wanting to work in the lab.

Personalizing and Enhancing PTSD Treatment

Project SARAH
Principal Investigator: Michele Bedard-Gilligan, Ph.D.

Following sexual assault, individuals may develop chronic problems including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and frequent or problematic alcohol use. Intervention provided soon after assault can decrease the risk of developing these problems long-term. We are recruiting female identifying individuals, ages 18-65, living in Washington state, who have experienced a sexual assault and increased drinking in the past year. This study includes an initial study evaluation, assessment, up to 12 no-cost treatment sessions, three post-treatment assessments across four months, and up to $247 in gift cards for compensation.

Visit uwprojectsarah.org for more information or contact Ash or Sarah at 206-685-3617 or projectsarah@uw.edu to determine if this study might be a fit for you.

Project STEP
Principal Investigator: Michele Bedard-Gilligan, Ph.D.

Survivors of a traumatic event may suffer for years afterward. Project STEP is a study on the effects of marijuana use on a brief treatment for psychological reactions following trauma. If you have been raped, attacked, or have experienced a car accident or combat, and you are 18 years or older, you may be eligible for a research study that provides no cost, confidential treatment. We are seeking participants with and without marijuana use. The study includes a no-cost evaluation, 6 daily no-cost treatment sessions, 3 months of follow-up visits, and up to $135 in gift cards for compensation.

Visit uwprojectstep.org for more information or contact Ash or Sarah at 206-685-3617 or uwstep@uw.edu (University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences).

Islamic Trauma Healing for Somali Victims of War and Violence
Principal Investigator: Lori Zoellner, Ph.D.

The Islamic Trauma Healing program (ITH) was developed out of the need for the Somali refugee community to address psychological distress in a culturally-sensitive setting. The program seeks to address the psychological wounds of trauma in the Somali community and to promote reconciliation with one another after years of violence and conflict.

Optimizing PTSD Treatments (OPT)
Principal Investigator: Lori Zoellner, Ph.D.

We are interested in understanding what treatment works for whom, focusing on the role of patient preferences, augmentation of psychotherapy with a pharmacotherapy, and biopsychosocial markers of treatment response.

Interested in participating?

Contact us!