Patrick Pössel

Patrick Pössel

Department of Counseling and Human Development
Room 330 - College of Education and Human Development

Dr. Pössel curriculum vitae [PDF]

Patrick received his doctoral degree with a specialization in Clinical Psychology from the Eberhard-Karls-Universität in Tübingen (Germany) in 1999 and is licensed as clinical psychologist in Germany. He received his Diploma in Psychology (equivalent to a M.A. in the USA) from the Justus-Liebig-Universität in Giessen, Germany. Following his Diploma degree completion, he worked as clinical psychologist in a private practice, while he completed his doctoral studies. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Louisville, Patrick worked as Assistant Professor at the University of Tübingen, and as Visiting Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. With his three independent research teams, he pursues three lines of research: First, Patrick is interested in prevention of depression in adolescents, and how to integrate prevention into the everyday life of teenager. Second, he studies the relationship between cognitive risk factors of depression, depressive symptoms, and physical health. Third, he studies the mechanisms underlying the association between prayers and mental health.

After developing and evaluating the universal prevention program LARS&LISA to reduce the incidence of depression in high-school students, he focuses now on the integration of prevention in everyday life at schools by the identification of teacher behaviors that prevent depression in students. This research team has two objectives. First, studying what influence teachers have on the development and maintenance of depression in teenager. More specifically, the effects of teaching behavior on adolescents are studied. The long-term goal of this line of research is to develop a new kind of prevention program of depression in adolescents for that teachers will be trained in behavior that protects adolescents from developing depression.

Students in this research team:

Barnard, Allison, 4th year PhD student
Liu, Yu-Yun, 4th year PhD student
Pittard, Caroline, 2nd year PhD student
Smith, Rosamond, 2nd year PhD student
Visalli, Kelsea, 2nd year PhD student
Cauley Bridget, 1st year PhD student
Savala Aly, 1st year MEd student

Several empirical studies indicate that depression increases the risk for physical illnesses like cancer and coronary heart disease (CHD). While the association of depression with cancer and CHD is well supported, the mechanisms underlying this association remain largely unknown. Thus, together with his research team, Patrick investigates some of these mechanisms. The episodic nature of depression, characterized by intermittent clinical and non-clinical periods, raises the question if depression and physcial illness are directly related or whether the underlying risk factors of depression (e.g., attribution style, dysfunctional attitudes, hopelessness, rumination) are associated with CHD, suggesting the impression that depression and CHD are associated. Therefore, associations between risk factors of depression and CHD are the main focus of this research team. Currently, this team uses data from epidemiological studies around the world and collects data for two studies with informal and professional caregivers of cancer patients to test the proposed associations.

Students in this research team:

Busch, Lorna, 7th year PhD student
Mitchell, Amanda, 5nd year PhD student
Beasley, Christina, 1st year MEd student
Roane, Sarah, 1st year PhD student

One factor that has been linked with depression is religiosity in general and religious behavior (e.g., praying) in particular. The importance of religiosity in the United States was highlighted in a national survey on religion (1991 – 1998), revealing that 95% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, 69% consider themselves religious, 49% attend worship weekly, and 42% pray alone frequently. Therefore, Patrick’s research team studies the association between mental health and prayer as religious behavior. The objective of this line of research is to investigate what mechanisms underly the association between prayers and mental health.

Students in this research team:

Jeppsen, Benjamin, 6th year PhD student
Winkeljohn Black, Stephanie, 5th year PhD student


Patrick’s work is financed by multiple external grants and published in Behaviour Research and Therapy, Biological Psychology, Cognitive Therapy and Research, Depression and Anxiety, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychology, Journal of Counseling Psychology, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, and other professional journals and book chapters.

Patrick is committed to providing students with a stimulating and challenging learning environment, and encourages active engagement and participation of students in his research projects. The main goals of his mentoring are to help students (a) to develop their own research questions within the first year of their study, (b) to learn how to design and implement studies, and analyze data, and (c) to develop confidence in presenting their research on conferences and in journals. One expression of his commitment to the professional development of his students is reflected in the fact that his current or previous students have been first authors on 31% and co-authors on 55% of his publications since 2010.

Educational Background

  • PD, Psychology, University of Tübingen, 2004
  • Ph.D. Psychology, University of Tübingen, 1999
  • Dipl.-Psych. University of Giessen, Germany 1995

Teaching Areas

  • Assessment Practicum (ECPY680)
  • Advanced Theories of Counseling & Psychotherapy (ECPY722)
  • Counseling Practicum (ECPY 673)
  • Counseling Internship (ECPY 683)
  • Evaluation & Measurement (ECPY540)
  • Intelligence & Achievement Assessment (ECPY648)
  • Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy (ECPY619)