Psychologist Lizabeth Roemer
Since her arrival at UMass Boston as an assistant professor in 1996, Lizabeth Roemer’s trajectory in clinical psychology, as a teacher, researcher, and scholar, has been rocketing upwards thanks to her endless passion for “taking on the challenge of integrating the theoretical with the applied.”
“The field of clinical psychology has always held a particular interest for me because it affords me the opportunity to pursue intellectual, scientific inquiry that has real world, practical implications,” explains Roemer.
She earned her PhD and MS degrees in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and her BA in psychology, with honors, from Northwestern University. Some of her other achievements include serving as the principal investigator of research grants in excess of $2.3M awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health, five books published, and more than 55 peer-reviewed articles published.
Roemer’s scholarly work focuses on the dynamic interconnections between science and practice in clinical psychology. As a result, she pursues descriptive and experimental studies of clinically-relevant processes, as well as scientific evaluation of a newly developed treatment drawn from basic research findings.
“I am interested in increasing our understanding of how individuals respond to distressing emotional experiences in ways that interfere with, or promote, optimal functioning across a range of contexts,” says Roemer. “The aim is to improve treatment of clinical problems mostly within the context of anxiety disorders, particularly generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
She has also mentored doctoral students examining those same questions in relation to panic disorder, social anxiety, hostility, deliberate self-harm, and the psychological consequences of racial discrimination. Her emphasis has been on the ways avoidant responses to internal experiences may exacerbate clinical problems and interfere with the quality of life, while accepting, or being mindful of, responses that may enhance functioning and increase flexibility.
This area of study led Roemer and Susan Orsillo of Suffolk University to develop an acceptance-based behavioral therapy for chronic, excessive worry and tension that interferes with life. They recently put their research findings into practice by publishing a clinician’s guide, Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapies in Practice, and a self-help book, The Mindful Way Through Anxiety: Break Free from Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life.
Roemer’s teaching takes place in multiple contexts: in large and small undergraduate classrooms; in foundational and advanced clinical psychology graduate courses; and through mentoring and supervising undergraduate research apprentices, honor students, and doctoral-level graduate students. “In each context, I aim to help students develop a sense of their own competence and efficacy, while learning how the science and theory of our discipline is relevant to their and other’s lives,” she explains.
At the undergraduate level, this may take the form of learning how the careful study of psychological challenges and resilience relate to topics of concern to them. In doing so they learn to critically assess research and theory, rather than accepting an author’s word for the appropriate conclusions to draw. Some students learn to design and conduct relevant research studies and disseminate findings.
At the doctoral level, this begins with learning the general theoretical and empirical basis of important areas of clinical psychology, along with a sophisticated understanding of scientific inquiry that allows them to actively engage literature in their area of study and then go on to design and conduct rigorous studies with practical implications. Within her research team, doctoral students learn to mentor undergraduates and collaborate with one another.
To learn more about Professor Roemer's research, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.