Research Lab at Portland Psychotherapy

A core part of Portland Psychotherapy’s mission is the conduct of scientific research intended to help develop new treatments for people who are suffering. Most behavioral research is conducted in university settings and dependent on federal grant funding. Politics can therefore play a major role in determining what research gets funded, and sometimes this is at odds with scientific advancement. In contrast, Portland Psychotherapy uses a unique business model that provides funding for its research through its clinical services, which allows our researchers to function more independently.

Our research lab has dedicated research funding, space, equipment, and staff. Our internal grant program offers additional support to our researchers. We also host a postdoctoral fellowship affording research opportunities, and offer mentorship to volunteer research assistants working on undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Purpose and Aims

We use contextual behavioral science to find new and more effective ways of alleviating psychological suffering and helping people live richer and fuller lives. To do this, we conduct both basic and applied research relevant to clinical behavior analysis and affective science, and aim to help the scientific community better describe, predict, and influence behavior with precision, scope, and depth. We also aim to create an environment that nurtures the personal and professional development of behavioral scientists.

Research Projects

Our ongoing research includes a variety of projects relevant to helping people overcome psychological inflexibility and develop greater compassion for themselves and others, including investigations of emotion, self-criticism, mindfulness, substance abuse, stigma, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Publications from the Lab

The findings of our researchers are shared with the larger scientific community and the world through publications (listed here) and through presentations at scientific conferences.

Volunteering to be a Research Assistant

* We are not accepting applications at this time *

We are pleased to be able to offer experience and mentorship to students who are interested in learning more about conducting psychological research. Ideal candidates will have a strong interest in continuing education and a career in a relevant field (e.g., psychology researcher, evidence-based clinical practitioner, etc.), and would typically be undergraduate or graduate psychology students.

The work involved would depend to some extent on your abilities and interests. Tasks range from distributing recruitment flyers to collecting data from participants to data analysis to writing. We tend to establish some core work to do (e.g., collecting data from participants at the clinic) with the expectation that you would be available for at least 3 hours per week for at least 6 months. You would also need to attend our lab meetings, which we typically hold about every other week on Fridays. Volunteers are welcome to expand their time dedication and contributions from there depending on their abilities and availability.

If you are able to make this level of commitment and are interested in a volunteer RA position, please prepare your CV or resume and fill out our Interested in RA Position form. Please note that we currently do not have any research assistant positions available. You are welcome to fill out an application to be contacted at a later date.

Volunteering to be a Research Participant

If you are interested in making a contribution by participating in psychological research, you can learn more by visiting our sign-up page to see studies that are currently open to volunteers. We appreciate your help!

Current Lab Members

Principal Investigators

Jason Luoma, Ph.D. Jason is the Director of Portland Psychotherapy. His research interests include the development of new interventions for chronic self-criticism and shame, compassion, psychotherapy training and dissemination, addiction, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Research Gate Profile

Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D. Jenna is the co-founder of and Director of Clinical Services at Portland Psychotherapy. Her research focuses on interventions to decrease mental health stigma and developing compassion-focused interventions within a contextual behavioral science framework for those struggling with chronic self-criticism and shame. Research Gate Profile


2016-2019 Research Coordinator

Christina Chwyl, B.A. Christina serves as our research coordinator. She received her BA in Psychology from Stanford University and plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. She is broadly interested in understanding how emotions, adverse experiences and relationships and related to well-being. In her spare time, Christina enjoys painting, hiking and making Dad jokes.

Research Assistants

Marissa Viramontes, B.A. Marissa comes to Portland Psychotherapy Research Lab with a BA in Psychology from the University of Portland. Her broad interests include emotional regulation and resilience. While she plans to attend graduate school in the future, she enjoys being a part of a research lab in the meantime, where she gains skills and experiences that will help propel her towards future goals.

Josh Kaplan, B.A. Josh began his academic career in psychology with a BA from Lewis & Clark College, and he is currently working towards his doctorate at Pacific University’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. His ongoing meditation practice began with an internship focusing on Mindfulness-Based Interventions, specifically ACT. He has worked largely in a community-based mental health capacity, including providing in-home therapeutic family care with a non-profit agency in his home state of Montana. His research and clinical focuses continue to be mindfulness- and ACT-oriented, and he also has as a budding interest in neuropsychology. Active: October 2014 – Present

Past Lab Members

Past Postdoctoral Fellows

2014-2015 Melissa Platt, Ph.D. (University of Oregon) Went on to be employed as: Research Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy until she went into private practice.


2012-2013 Scott Rower, Ph.D. (Alliant University) Went on to be employed as: Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy until he transition into private practice in Hood River, OR.


2011-2012 Paul Guinther, Ph.D. (University of New Mexico) Went on to be employed as: Research Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy until he went on to work at an outpatient clinic where he continues to conduct research.


2010-2011 Richard Nobles, Ph.D. (University of Washington) Went on to be employed as: Staff psychologist at Truman Medical Center – Lakewood Counseling in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He is also an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at University of Missouri – Kansas City. In addition to his clinical work, he teaches, supervises, conducts trainings, and holds grand rounds for budding psychiatrists.

2009-2010 Brian Thompson, Ph.D. (University of Montana) Went on to be employed as: Psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy. As a part of his clinical work, Brian is researching ways of using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help people overcome PTSD and OCD.

2008-2009 Chad Drake, Ph.D. (University of Mississippi) Went on to be employed as: Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University. Chad supervises a program of research on implicit cognition with the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure as well as a practicum course on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Past Research Assistants

Sean Robertson Sean is an undergraduate psychology student at George Fox University. He hopes to enter graduate school after earning BS and would like to focus his research on the topic of addictions. Active May 2015 – January, 2016.


Rebekah Harding Rebekah is an undergraduate student at George Fox University where she is pursuing degrees in both Psychology and Social Work. After graduation, Rebekah plans on earning an MSW followed by her LCSW. She hopes to one day have a private practice, specializing in providing therapy to those who have experienced trauma and abuse. Active May 2015 – January 2016

Shagun Pawar, B.A. Shagun volunteered with us while working towards her doctorate in psychology as a health track student at Pacific University. She received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder in psychology and sociology. Her clinical and research interests included resiliency, trauma (brain injury, physical, and sexual), neuropsychology, chemical dependency, sleep, chronic pain management, skills-based intervention and assessment use. Active: October 2014 – September 2015

Carl Gauthier, B.A. Carl volunteered with us while working towards his doctorate at Pacific University. His research interests included suicidology and the application of psychology in legal settings. Active: October 2014 – September 2015


2013-2015 Megan Cheslock, B.A. – Megan earned her B.A. in Psychology from California State University in 2012 and would like to attend graduate school to study clinical and cognitive neuropsychology. After gaining research experience at Portland Psychotherapy, she went on to become a paid research assistant at the Portland VA, examining methods to relive symptoms of tinnitus. Active: May 2013 – July 2015.

2014-2015 Dylan Vaughn, B.A. – While volunteering at Portland Psychotherpy, Dylan earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Pacific University. He went on to work in a primate research lab, and he plans to attend graduate school. His research interests include neuropsychology.

2012-2014 Jackie Potter – Jackie worked with us as an undergraduate student at Lewis and Clark, with the intention of going on to attend graduate school. Her research interests include neuroscience, and she is also interested in philosophy.


2013-2014 Monica Bahan, B.A. – Monica is applying to graduate school in psychology.


2012-2013 Rob Meeker, B.A. – Rob is currently studying Community Psychology in the Applied Psychology Ph.D. Program at Portland State University. He is working with Dr. Greg Townley and hopes to incorporate the science of mindfulness and compassion into Community Psychology theory and practice.


2012-2012 Reneee Cavanagh – Renee has completed a psychology Internship at VA South Texas and is working on her dissertation. She anticipates completing her doctorate in 2015.


2011-2012 Molly Ellis – Molly went on to graduate school as a nurse practitioner at Oregon Health Sciences University.



2011-2013 Petra Horn-Keller – Petra is now working as a bench jeweler for a small company in Seattle while pursuing a teaching certificate to teach secondary art education.