Lab Members

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Matthew Cohen, M.A.
On Pre-Doctoral Clinical Psychology Internship
Duke University Medical Center, Adult-Health Concentration
cohenmj@email.unc.edu
M.A. in Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A. in Psychology Cum Laude, Tufts University, 2008

My goal within the lab is to address psychological issues through the lens of relationship health, as well as improving individual and relationship functioning. Specifically, the focus of my research and clinical work relates to psychopathology experienced in the perinatal period. I am interested in the transition to parenthood with the goal of helping individuals and couples navigate this significant life event, which often occurs in the context of a mood or anxiety disorder.

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Kimberly Pentel, M.A.

6th year Graduate Student

M.A. in Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016
B.Sc. in Clinical Psychology Magna Cum Laude, Tufts University, 2011
pentel@unc.edu

My research and clinical work focuses on developing and evaluating couple-based treatment for relationship distress and individual psychopathology. I especially enjoy the process of tailoring or adapting couple-based therapies for specific disorders and populations and studying how to maximize treatment gains and fit. My masters thesis examined how patient and partner insight into psychopathology may predict treatment outcome in couples where one member has anorexia nervosa. For my dissertation, I am developing and pilot testing a culturally tailored and affirming couple therapy for same-sex female couples (ACCESS: Affirming Couples Counseling to Engage Same Sex partners; ACCESSprogram@unc.edu), drawing upon the cognitive behavioral couple therapy framework and LGB minority stress literature.

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Danielle Weber, M.A.
3rd year Graduate Student

M.A. in Psychology, American University, 2016
B.A. in Psychology Summa Cum Laude, College of William and Mary, 2014
dmweber@live.unc.edu

My research focuses broadly on the experience of emotions within a dyadic context, particularly in how partners may support or impede each other’s ability to regulate negative emotions. I am particularly interested in how these emotional dynamics play out in couples in which one or both partners suffers from psychopathology. This focus on emotions naturally extends to how these emotional patterns are related to adaptive and maladaptive partner behaviors and cognitions, as well as overall relationship quality. These basic research interests are tied naturally with my clinical work, as understanding more about the experience of emotions within couples can hopefully enhance couples therapy and couple-based interventions for psychopathology.

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thumbnail_Wojda AlexandraAlexandra Wojda
2nd year Graduate Student
B.A. in Psychology Summa Cum Laude, CUNY Hunter College, 2014
akwojda@email.unc.edu

My research interests currently center on ecological models of relationships – primarily, the risk and protective factors that promote, or reduce, dysfunction in low-income couples. I am interested in elucidating the reciprocal interactions between contextual stressors (e.g., work-related stress, family demands, risky neighborhoods) and the interpersonal elements of relationships, with an eye toward dyadic coping, stress management, and support behaviors. These interests extend into the applied work I hope to pursue while at UNC, including the development of couples-based prevention and intervention programs that uniquely target relationship distress and mental health in low-income populations.

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Recent Lab Alumni:

BelusJennifer Belus, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology Department at the University of Maryland
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology anticipated 2018
M.A. in Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina, 2015
B.A. in Psychology with Honors, Ryerson University, Canada, 2011
belus@email.unc.edu

My research interests are centered around developing and disseminating mental health interventions in low- and middle-income countries, including couple-based interventions. My dissertation is focused on trying to improve couple-based HIV prevention programs by examining the Couples Health CoOp, an intervention designed specifically for South African couples. My study is examining the long-term effects of this program as well as trying to explore how couples in this setting define and understand healthy intimate relationships. I’ve now successfully defended my dissertation and am completing my internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

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Melanie Fischer, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Heidelberg University Hospital

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015
M.A. in Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.Sc. in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany, 2009
melanie.fischer@med.uni-heidelberg.de

My research focuses on romantic relationships and interpersonal aspects of individual psychopathology. I am interested in treatment outcome research as well as more basic research on dyadic processes in this context, particularly related to eating and anxiety disorders. In the past, I have used observational coding to examine context-specific partner behaviors in response to a patient’s eating disorder. More recently, I have been studying speech signal processing as a method to gain unique insights into dyadic interactions. As part of my dissertation research, I examined affect regulation processes in couples in which one partner suffers from OCD or anorexia nervosa using this methodology, and hope to gain knowledge that will ultimately help us optimize treatments. I am also involved in a number of other research projects, and in my postdoctoral position served as a couple therapist in Dr. Baucom and Dr. Bulik’s treatment study for anorexia nervosa. I thoroughly enjoy my clinical work in a variety of other settings.

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Christine Paprocki, Ph.D.
B.A. in Psychology with Honors, University of Chicago, 2007

Currently living in Seattle, WA and working at a private group practice, I completed my internship (2014-15) and post-doctoral fellowship (2015-16) at the Seattle Veterans Hospital, where I specialized in couples’ and family health. My primary research and clinical interests revolve around how stress and anxiety can impact romantic relationships through behaviors such as excessive reassurance-seeking and self-silencing (keeping quiet about your own opinions to appease a partner). As a graduate student in the lab, I was involved with various treatment outcome studies, and really value seeing new couple interventions in action! I also provide remote consultation for Cognitive Behavioral Couple Therapy to National Health Service therapists in the United Kingdom working with couples in which one partner is experiencing depressive symptoms, and very much enjoy the process of providing couples’ therapy supervision.