Patrick Pössel

Patrick Pössel

Professor
Department of Counseling and Human Development
Room 330 - College of Education and Human Development
502-852-0623
patrick.possel@louisville.edu

Selected Works

Dr. Pössel curriculum vitae [PDF]

Biography: Patrick Pössel

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 a clinical psychologist in Germany and Kentucky. He received his Diploma in Psychology (equivalent to a master’s degree in the US) from the Justus-Liebig-Universität in Giessen, Germany. After receiving his Diploma, he worked as a 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. While being at the University of Louisville, Patrick got promoted to Associate Professor in 2010 and to Professor in 2015. Since 2018 he also serves as Director of Cardinal Success, the departmental trainings and research clinic providing pro-bono behavioral-health services (incl. psychological assessments) to uninsured and under-insured clients across the whole life-span in the community. Currently, Patrick pursues four independent but interconnected lines of research. First, as part of all his research lines Patrick examines the role of social disparities (i.e., ethnicity/race, gender, perceived everyday discrimination, subjective social status) in the development and maintenance of mental and physical disorders through the lens of cognitive vulnerability-stress models (Role of Social Disparities). Second, Patrick studies prevention of depression in adolescents and what makes prevention work, for whom, and under what conditions (Prevention of Depression in Adolescents). Third, Patrick is interested in the relationship between cognitive vulnerabilities and stressors underlying depression, depressive symptoms, and physical health (Mind-Body Lab). Finally, he studies the mechanisms underlying the association between prayers and mental and physical health (Prayer Research).

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 (ECPY 680)
  • Advanced Counseling Practicum (ECPY 780)
  • Advanced Theories of Counseling & Psychotherapy (ECPY 722)
  • Counseling Practicum (ECPY 673)
  • Counseling Internship (ECPY 683)
  • Empirical and Theoretical Foundations of Counseling and Psychotherapy (ECPY619)
  • Evaluation & Measurement (ECPY 540)
  • Intelligence & Achievement Assessment (ECPY 648)
  • Theories and Techniques of Counseling and Psychotherapy (ECPY 629)

Research Interests

  • Assessment Practicum (ECPY 680)
  • Advanced Counseling Practicum (ECPY 780)
  • Prevention of depression in adolescents
  • Comorbitidy of physical and mental health
  • Social determinants of health and psychological variables
  • School variables and students' well-being
  • Prayer behavior and mental and physical health

Methodology

  • Longitudinal design
  • Structural equational modeling
  • Experimental design

Mentoring of Students

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So far, Patrick received more than $2 million of grant funding and authored or co-authored more than 120 journal articles, book chapters, books, etc. Many of those publications are with his students. In fact, his students have been first authors on 40% and co-authors on 56% of his publications since 2010 (his promotion to Associate Professor). Patrick’s commitment to the professional development of his students also finds its expression in him providing students with a stimulating and challenging learning environment, and encouraging the active engagement and participation of students in his research projects. His focus as a mentor is to help students: (a) develop their own research questions within the above listed research areas, (b) learn how to design and implement studies and analyze data, and (c) develop confidence in presenting their research at conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals.

Research Lines

Role of Social Disparities

Patrick and students from all his research teams examine the role of social disparities (i.e., ethnicity/race, gender, perceived everyday discrimination, subjective social status) in the development and maintenance of mental and physical disorders through the lens of cognitive vulnerability-stress models. This research is integrated into all other research lines mentioned below and is one of the links connecting all of them.

Students and other researchers in this research team:
Shelby Burton, 6th year PhD student
Olivia Alexander, 5th year PhD student
Kate Berghuis, 5th year PhD student
Brooks Harbison, 5th year PhD student
Ashley Ann Marshall, 4th year PhD student
Eric Smith, 4th year PhD student
Abigail Sell, 3rd year PhD student
Hayley Seely, 2nd year PhD student
Hannah Widmer, 2nd year PhD student
Rowan Ashton, 1st year PhD student
Sherry Pancost, 1st year PhD student
Abigail Sacco, 1st year PhD student

Prevention of Depression in Adolescents

After developing and evaluating the universal cognitive-behavioral prevention program LARS&LISA; to reduce the incidence of depression in high school students, he is now focusing on why this type of prevention program works, for whom it works, and under what circumstances it works. Having studied multiple mechanisms underlying the effects of prevention, Patrick and his team currently research how effective prevention is in racially/ethnically diverse groups of adolescents in urban areas. The objective is to improve the effects of prevention in groups that have thus far been shown to receive significantly less benefit. In addition, Patrick’s team is part of a multi-center study financed by PCORI to compare a face-to-face group program with an online program for adolescents with elevated levels of depressive symptoms (https://chicago.medicine.uic.edu/departments/academic-departments/pediatrics/research/path-2-purpose).

Students and other researchers in this research team:
Jessica Hatton, MEd in Counseling Psychology
Shelby Burton, 6th year PhD student
Olivia Alexander, 5th year PhD student
Kate Berghuis, 5th year PhD student
Brooks Harbison, 5th year PhD student
Ashley Ann Marshall, 4th year PhD student
Eric Smith, 4th year PhD student
Abigail Sell, 3rd year PhD student
Hayley Seely, 2nd year PhD student
Hannah Widmer, 2nd year PhD student
Sherry Pancost, 1st year PhD student

Mind-Body Lab

Several empirical studies indicate that depression increases the risk for physical illnesses, including 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. Together with his research team, Patrick investigates some of these mechanisms. The episodic nature of depression, characterized by intermittent clinical and non-clinical periods of symptomology, raises the question as to whether depression and physical illness are directly related, or if the vulnerability (e.g., attribution style, dysfunctional attitudes, hopelessness, rumination) and stressors underlying depression (i.e., caregiving, perceived everyday discrimination, subjective social status) are associated with CHD. This would give the impression that depression and CHD are associated. The main focus of the research team, associations between vulnerability and stressors underlying depression and CHD, investigates this possibility. For this line of research, the team previously used data from epidemiological studies from around the world and focuses now mainly on collecting primary data. These primary studies currently include two studies with informal and professional caregivers of cancer patients, a study with students at the local community and technical college, and adolescents participating in the prevention program LARS&LISA.;

Students and other researchers in this research team:
Amanda Mitchell, PhD & Alumna, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Louisville
Rafael Fernandez-Botran, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville
Brooks Harbison, 5th year PhD student
Ashley Ann Marshall, 4th year PhD student
Hayley Seely, 2nd year PhD student

Prayer Research

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 objectives of this line of research are the following:

Patrick and his team examine the universality of prayer. This includes questions like whether (a) prayer are the same (e.g., whether the factor structure is identical); (b) prayer have the same associations with mental and physical health; (c) the underlying mechanisms connecting prayer with health are identical across multiple religious and ethnical/racial groups (incl. praying atheists). Further, he is interested if and what type of prayer can have stress buffering effects. In other words, can prayer prevent the negative effects of stress (e.g., discrimination) on mental (e.g., depression) and physical health (e.g., cortisol, CRP, IL-6, TNF-alpha). Finally, praying behavior is not always associated with positive outcomes. This raises the question what cause the negative effects. One possibility is based on the fact that prayer do not always have the effects the person praying hopes for. If this happens, what effects does that have on the praying person and what strategies are the most helpful to avoid negative consequences.

Students and other researchers in this research team:
Benjamin Jeppsen, PhD, Assistant Professor, Augustana University
Stephanie Winkeljohn Black, PhD, Assistant Professor, Penn State Harrisburg
Olivia Alexander, 5th year PhD student
Abigail Sell, 3rd year PhD student
Rowan Ashton, 1st year PhD student