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In the Trauma, Resilience and Recovery Lab, we conduct both observational and intervention research to study the process of adaption to psychological trauma exposure through three inter-related questions:

  • How do psychosocial factors that are present prior to trauma exposure reduce the harmful impact of trauma?
  • How do modifiable psychosocial factors influence functional adaptation and recovery following trauma exposure?
  • How can interventions promote resilience and recovery in relation to trauma by targeting these psychosocial factors?

Our approach involves embracing the complexity of post-trauma recovery by focusing on complex combinations of co-occurring mental and physical health challenges. In particular, we seek to identify transdiagnostic factors that influence functional recovery processes across specific diagnostic categories including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and alcohol and substance use disorders.

We focus on transdiagnostic psychosocial factors drawn from intervention models including “third wave” behavior therapies and contemporary forms of traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. These interventions are based on the integration of traditional behavior therapy with factors such as mindfulness, acceptance, personal values, self-compassion and emotion regulation.

The populations on which we have focused to date include people exposed to frequent psychological trauma through their employment such as active duty military, military veterans and emergency responders, as well as people living with acquired injuries including traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Current and Recently Completed Projects.

Enhancing Resiliency and Optimizing Readiness in Military Personnel (Meyer, Co-PI with Alan Peterson, PhD, ABPP).

The goals of this project are: 1) With stakeholder input, develop a psychological resilience enhancement intervention based on principles of Acceptance and Commitment Training; and 2) Conduct a randomized clinical trial to test the efficacy of this training intervention (Psychological Flexibility Training) with active-duty military personnel compared to military resilience training as usual (Master Resilience Training) for improving psychological resilience over time. This project is being conducted at Fort Hood, TX. This project is funded by the Department of Defense (W81XWH-18-PHTBIRP-R2OE-TRA).

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Post-Stroke Aphasia

This project is formally titled: Adapting acceptance and mindfulness-based behavior therapy for stroke survivors with aphasia to improve communication success, post-stroke adaptation, and quality of life (Evans, PI; Meyer, Co-I)

The goals of this project are to conduct a stakeholder-driven adaptation and pilot test of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for stroke survivors. This project is funded by NIH (NICHD; National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research; 1 R03 HD104246-01).

Pitt Center for Emergency Responder Wellness

The purpose of this research project is to provide counseling services to promote wellness at no cost to local emergency responders. We are providing evidence-based treatment delivered by providers who are trained in emergency response cultural awareness. Specifically, we are providing a type of talk therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy. This treatment approach has extensive evidence supporting its effectiveness for the types of problems that emergency responders are most likely to experience. These include anxiety, depressed mood, posttraumatic stress, and over-reliance on alcohol. This treatment approach is adapted to meet the needs of each person. You and your therapist would decide on your treatment goals. Services are provided either via video conference or in person at the University of Pittsburgh based on your preference and in accordance with Pitt’s guidelines regarding the pandemic.

Your involvement would include receiving treatment, consisting of one hour talk therapy sessions about once/week. You would receive between 8 and 20 sessions, depending on your needs. You will also be asked to complete online questionnaires three times: before treatment, right after treatment, and a follow-up assessment about 3 months after treatment ends. The questionnaires will take about 30 minutes. They help track progress toward your goals and help us determine how effective this treatment is and whether it should be made more broadly available to emergency responders. All information regarding your treatment will be confidential. Your employer will not have access to any of this information. The treatment is provided by advanced graduate students in mental health or recent graduates working toward their licensure. These treatment providers are closely supervised by Dr. Meyer, the project director, a licensed psychologist and professor of counseling who has extensive experience working with emergency responders. You will be compensated for completing the questionnaires: $30 at pre-treatment, $50 at post-treatment, and $40 at the follow-up assessment for a total of $120.

Contact us at (412) 624-4004 or firstresponderwellness@pitt.edu to inquire about receiving services.

People:

Eric Meyer

Director

Sheila Roth

Co-Investigator

Tom Platt

Co-Investigator

Amanda Fedunok

Project Clinician

Nicole Fuhr

Project Clinician

Emily Kirschner

Project Clinician

External Collaborators:  

Featured Publications  

*Indicates trainee co-author

  • Meyer, E.C., Coe, E., & Pennington, M.L., Gulliver, S.B. (under review) The Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders delivered via video conferencing to firefighters: Pilot treatment outcomes highlighting improvements in alcohol use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms.
  • Gulliver, S.B., Zimering, R.T., Knight, J., Morissette, S.B., Kamholz, B.W., Pennington, M.L., Dobani, F., Carpenter, T.P., Kimbrel, N.A., Keane, T.M., & Meyer, E.C. (2021). A prospective study of firefighters’ PTSD and depression symptoms: The first three years of service. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 13, 44-55. doi: 10.1037/tra0000980.
  • Morissette, S. B., Ryan-Gonzalez, C., Yufik, T., DeBeer, B. B., Kimbrel, N. A., Sorrells, A., Holleran-Steiker, L., Penk, W. E., Gulliver, S. B., & Meyer, E. C. (2021). The Effects of PTSD Symptoms on Educational Functioning in Student Veterans. Psychological Services, 64, 383-397.  doi: 10.1037/ser0000356. Epub 2019 Jun 13.
  • Meyer, E.C., Zimering, R.T., Knight, J., Carpenter, T.C., Kamholz, B., Morissette, S.B., Coe, E., Keane, T.M., Kimbrel, N.A., & Gulliver, S.B.  (2020). In firefighters, negative emotionality interacts with trauma exposure to prospectively predict PTSD symptoms during the first three years of service. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 34, 333-344. doi: 10.1002/jts.22632
  • Meyer, E.C., *Szabo, Y.Z., *Frankfurt, S.B., Kimbrel, N.A., DeBeer, B.B., & Morissette, S.B. (2019). Predictors of recovery from post-deployment posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in war veterans: The contributions of psychological flexibility, mindfulness, and self-compassion. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 114, 7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2019.01.002. Invited paper as part of special issue on mechanisms of and novel interventions for resilience and wellness in stress and anxiety disorders.
  • Bovin, M.J., Meyer, E.C., Kimbrel, N.A., Kleiman, S.E., Green, J.D., Morissette, S.B., & Marx, B.P. (2019). Using the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 to Assess Disability in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. PLoS One. Aug 7;14(8):e0220806. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220806. eCollection 2019. Shared first authorship
  • Elliott, T.R., Hsiao, Y., Kimbrel, N.A., DeBeer, B.B., Gulliver, S.B., Kwok, O., Morissette, S.B., & Meyer, E.C. (2019). Resilience facilitates psychological and functional adjustment through greater psychological flexibility among Iraq/Afghanistan War veterans with and without mild traumatic brain injury. Rehabilitation Psychology, 64, 383-397. doi: 10.1037/rep0000282. 
  • Meyer, E.C., Kotte, A., Kimbrel, N.A., DeBeer, B.B., Elliott, T.R., Gulliver, S.B., & Morissette, S.B. (2019). Predictors of lower-than-expected posttraumatic symptom severity in war Veterans: The influence of personality, self-reported resilience, and psychological flexibility. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 114, 7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2018.12.005. 
  • Meyer, E.C., *La Bash, H., DeBeer, B.B., Kimbrel, N.A., Gulliver, S.B., & Morissette, S.B. (2019).  Psychological inflexibility predicts PTSD symptom severity in war veterans after accounting for established PTSD risk factors and personality. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11, 383-390. doi: 10.1037/tra0000358. 
  • Meyer, E.C., Walser, R.D., Hermann, B., *La Bash, H., DeBeer, B.B., Morissette, S.B., Kimbrel, N.A., Kwok, O-M., Batten, S.V., & Schnurr, P.P. (2018). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Co-Occurring PTSD and Alcohol Use Disorders in Veterans: Pilot Treatment Outcomes. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 31, 781-789. doi: 10.1002/jts.22322.
  • Meyer, E.C., *Frankfurt, S.B., Kimbrel, N.A., DeBeer, B.B., Gulliver, S.B., & Morissette, S.B. (2018). The influence of mindfulness, self-compassion, psychological flexibility, and posttraumatic stress disorder on disability and quality of life over time in war veterans. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74, 1272-1280. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22596. 
  • Meyer, E.C., *Konecky, B., Kimbrel, N.A., DeBeer, B.B., Marx, B.P., Schumm, J., Penk, W.E., Gulliver, S.B., & Morissette, S.B.  (2018). Gender differences in associations between DSM-5 posttraumatic stress disorder symptom clusters and functional impairment in war veterans. Psychological Services, 15, 230-237. doi: 10.1037/ser0000171. Invited paper as part of special issue on military-to-civilian transitions.