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 and affective 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 with the aim of helping 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 the following topic areas:

  • Psychedelics and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy
  • Stigma and substance use disorder
  • The effects of social signaling and emotion in highly shame prone and self-critical people
  • Processes of change relevant to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Processes of therapeutic change related to self-compassion, shame, and self-criticism

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


Jason Luoma, Ph.D. Jason is the CEO 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 President of Portland Psychotherapy. Her research focuses on developing compassion-focused interventions within a contextual behavioral science framework for those struggling with chronic self-criticism and shame. Research Gate Profile

Brian Thompson, Ph.D. is the Director of the anxiety clinic at Portland Psychotherapy. He conducts research on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention as applied to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior Disorders.

Brian Pilecki, Ph.D. is a psychologist at Portland Psychotherapy who’s research focuses on the therapeutic applications of psychedelics and psychedelic assisted psychotherapy.

M. Kati Lear, Ph.D. (University of Wyoming) is a postdoctoral fellow at our center who is working on research related to shame, self-criticism, the social functions of emotion, self-harm, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. She will be taking a job this fall as a staff psychologist at the Sacramento VA.

Research Coordinator

Sarah Smith, B.S. Sarah started as a research coordinator in June, 2020 after receiving her B.S. in Psychology from Pacific University. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and hopes to do psychedelic-assisted therapy some day.

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.

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 Coordinator

Christina Chwyl, B.A. Christina was our full time research coordinator from 2016-2019. She received her BA in Psychology from Stanford University and plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. She entered graduate school for clinical psychology at Drexel University in 2019.

Past 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.

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.

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.

2015-2016 – Rebekah Harding Rebekah asw an undergraduate student at George Fox University where she is pursuing degrees in both Psychology and Social Work.

2014-2015: 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.

2014-2015 – 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. A

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. She went on to become a paid research assistant at the Portland VA.

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.

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.

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.

2012-2012 – Reneee Cavanagh – Renee has completed a psychology Internship at VA South Texas and is working on her dissertation.

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.