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 lifespan in the community. Currently, Patrick pursues five independent but interconnected lines of research. First, as part of all his research lines Patrick examines the role of social disparities (i.e., 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 thrives to integrate different cognitive theories of depression (Beck’s Cognitive Theory of Depression, Hopelessness Model, Response Styles Theory) into one integrated model (Integrated Cognitive Model) in adults and adolescents. Third, Patrick studies prevention of depression in adolescents and what makes prevention work, for whom, and under what conditions (Prevention of Depression in Adolescents). Forth, Patrick is interested in cognitive vulnerabilities and stressors as factors explaining the associations between 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 (ECPY 619)
  • 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 $4.6 million of grant funding and authored or co-authored more than 130 journal articles, book chapters, books, etc. Many of those publications are with his students. In fact, students have been first authors on almost 40% and co-authors on 55% 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., 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. In addition, Patrick’s research team just concluded a 3-wave online study to the impact of COVID-19 and social disparities on mental health in adults. Finally, in collaboration with Dr Jeffrey Valentine (Professor, Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Louisville) and Dr. Shelby Burton (Post-Doctoral Associate, Assistant Director of the Cardinal Success Program, University of Louisville) Patrick currently conducts a systematic review using meta-analytic methods to examine the role of race on the associations between attribution style and depressive symptoms.

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

Integrated Cognitive Model of Depression

Starting with his dissertation Patrick examined the impact of cognitive vulnerabilities on the development and maintenance of depression. This interest evolved into the longstanding interest in the integration of cognitive vulnerabilities proposed in three of the most supported cognitive models of depression (Beck's Cognitive Theory of Depression, Hopelessness Model, Response Styles Theory). Previous studies of this research team include two primary studies with adults (incl. the above mentioned COVID-19 study) and two with adolescents. Currently, Patrick’s research team collaborates with colleagues from the University of Louisville and the National University of Singapore on a systematic review using meta-analytic Structural Equation Modeling to further foster the integration of all three cognitive models.

Students and other researchers in this research team:
Igor Marchetti, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy
Jeffrey Valentine, PhD, Professor, Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Louisville, USA
Wai Leung Mike Cheung, Ph.D., Professor, Deputy Head of Department, Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Yee Shiun Ryan Hong, Ph.D., Associated Professor, Deputy Head of Department, Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Eric Smith, 5th year PhD student
Hayley Seely, 3rd year PhD student
Hannah Widmer, 3rd year PhD student
Sherry Pancost, 2nd year PhD student
Abigail Sacco, 2nd year PhD student
Erin Biesecker, 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:
Benjamin Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Department Head of Pediatrics; Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics; Physician-in-Chief, Children’s Hospital University of Illinois; Project Director for CHECK Project; Department of Pediatrics, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
Tracy R. G. Gladstone, PhD, Research Director; Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director Wellesley Centers for Women, Director, Robert S. and Grace W. Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives, Wellesley College,USA
Jessica Hatton, MEd in Counseling Psychology
Kara Kennedy, MEd in Counseling Psychology
Olivia Alexander, 6th year PhD student
Brooks Harbison, 6th year PhD student
Ashley Ann Marshall, 5th year PhD student
Eric Smith, 5th year PhD student
Abigail Sell, 4th year PhD student
Hayley Seely, 3rd year PhD student
Hannah Widmer, 3rd year PhD student
Sherry Pancost, 2nd year PhD student
Abigail Sacco, 2nd year PhD student
Erin Biesecker, 1st year PhD student

Mind-Body Lab

Several empirical studies indicate that depression increases the risk for physical illnesses (e.g., cancer, coronary heart disease) and vice versa. While these associations are well supported, the mechanisms underlying them remain largely unknown. In addition, the circular nature of the association between depression and physical health raises the question if there are factors that contribute to the development of both. This would cause the (wrong) impression that depression and physical health are directly associated. Patrick and his team investigate whether cognitive vulnerabilities (e.g., attribution style, dysfunctional attitudes, hopelessness, rumination) and stressors underlying depression (i.e., caregiving, perceived everyday discrimination, subjective social status) might be those factors. 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, adolescents participating in the prevention program LARS&LISA;, and adults ages 18-39 years.

Students and other researchers in this research team:
Amanda Mitchell, PhD & Alumna, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Louisville, USA
Kimberly Rapp Hartson, PhD, MS, RN, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Louisville
Rafael Fernandez-Botran, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville, USA
Brooks Harbison, 6th year PhD student
Ashley Ann Marshall, 5th year PhD student
Hayley Seely, 3rd year PhD student
Abigail Sacco, 2nd year PhD student
Erin Biesecker, 1st 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, USA
Stephanie Winkeljohn Black, PhD, Assistant Professor, Penn State Harrisburg, USA
Olivia Alexander, 6th year PhD student
Abigail Sell, 4th year PhD student
Rowan Ashton, 2nd year PhD student