Research Conducted at Portland Psychotherapy

Approximately 16 cents of every dollar we take in at Portland Psychotherapy goes to support research. A central part of our mission is to use science to develop novel methods to help people live better lives and alleviate the suffering that is part of living as a human being.  Beginning in 2008, we helped establish a federally approved Institutional Review Board (IRB) to provide independent review of our research to make sure it meets the highest ethical standards. This IRB is hosted by a nonprofit organization called the Behavioral Health Research Collective and more information a can be found at:

Below are some of the research projects we recently worked on, or are currently working on through the Research Lab at Portland Psychotherapy.

Are you interested in volunteering to participate in psychological research? Click here!

Topic area: Shame, self-criticism, and self-compassion as it naturally occurs in therapy.

Although a lot of theoretical and clinical attention has been paid to the role of shame in therapy process and outcome, there has been much less empirical attention to this topic. In this study, we are longitudinally investigating shame and self-compassion in therapy using a treatment-seeking sample. We intend to use the results of the research to inform later development of a randomized controlled trial intervention for working with shame and self-criticism.

If you’re interested in participating in this study? Click here!

Current Project: Studying the role of shame, self-criticism, and self-compassion in therapy process and outcome.

Investigator: Jason Luoma, Ph.D.


Project EXPRESS: Experimental Research on Emotion Suppression in Self-Critics

We recently completed running participants for a study on self-criticism and emotional expressivity. This project investigated emotion expression and social signaling in people who are high versus low in self-criticism. We also are incorporating research on overcontrolled behavior in collaboration with Thomas Lynch, Ph.D. and are planning to develop a novel video-coding measure of social engagement.

Investigator: Jason Luoma, Ph.D. & Thomas Lynch, Ph.D.


Topic Area: Exposure and Response Prevention with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

We are interested in whether adding Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) enhances Exposure and Response prevention (ERP), the gold standard treatment for OCD. We are also interested in looking more closely at the mechanisms of change in these interventions and clarifying processes of change within two different interventions.
Qualified participants will receive 18 sessions of individual treatment for OCD, including 12 sessions of ERP and 4 session of ACT. Throughout treatment participants are asked to submit daily measures in order to track specific processes in treatment.

Investigators: Brian Thompson, PhD and Jason Luoma, PhD


Project S3D: The effects of emotion on alcohol use.

We recently conducted research in the local community to learn more about the relationship between mood, daily experiences, and drinking. We were interested in learning more about the daily patterns of all sorts of different people, and asked them to share more about their use of alcohol (whether they drink a little or a lot, or anywhere in between), their emotions, and their attitudes about themselves.

We then had participants keep an online “daily diary” for 21 days to learn more about how daily events, moods, and alcohol use are related.

Investigators: Jason Luoma, Ph.D.


Topic Area: Novel Interventions for Shame and Self-Criticism

We conducted a study to understand the role of compassion and belongingness in people with high self-criticism and shame to help them live fuller, more engaged lives with an increased sense of belonging. We developed a 9-week class entitled Big Heart, Open Wide for highly self-critical people based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, affective science and compassion-based interventions. We collected data to assess the effectiveness of the class and use the data to inform future iterations of the class as well as additional research projects. We also worked on developing an individual treatment protocol based on the same ideas.

Investigators: Jason Luoma, Ph.D., Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D.


To see our publications, go here: