Our Faculty

Helen Z. MacDonald

Helen Z. MacDonald

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Contact Information

617 264-7712

Office Hours

Office: Administration Building, Room 421A

Office hours: Monday, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.; Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.; by appointment also


Ph.D., M.A., Boston University; B.A., Wellesley College


As a clinical psychologist, I am passionate about teaching and introducing the world of clinical psychology to my students.  As a professor, my goal is to make learning interactive, vivid, and applicable to students' lives.  I aim for my courses to help students hone their analytic skills and excellence in writing, fundamental competencies that will serve them across disciplines and future endeavors.  To this end, I challenge my students to push the limits of their own learning, in part by prompting them to ask questions of me, themselves, each other, and their course material.  I encourage my students to consider and integrate multiple perspectives when responding to a question or conceptualizing a problem.  

I believe that active learning is facilitated by presenting course material through a myriad of modalities.  As a clinical psychologist active in clinical practice and research, I bring real world field experiences to contextualize the concepts we are learning in class.  I believe that presenting students with a diversity of avenues for learning and a multiplicity of perspectives increases the opportunity for all students to master the concepts, manipulate and apply what they learn in the classroom, and, ultimately, make a connection with the field of psychology.

I love Emmanuel's commitment to teaching the whole student through a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences education.  In my roles as professor, researcher, and advisor, I appreciate the opportunities that I have to help students develop as scholars of psychology, researchers, and emerging professionals.

Courses I Teach

  • PSYCH3210 - Child Psychopathology
  • PSYCH3212 - Adult Psychopathology

Publications + Presentations

  • Franz, M. R.,  Wolf, E. J., MacDonald, H.Z., Marx, B. P., Proctor, S. P., & Vasterling, J. V. (In press). Relationships among predeployment risk factors, warzone threat appraisal, and postdeployment PTSD symptoms. Journal of Traumatic Stress.
  • MacDonald, H. Z., Proctor, S. P., Heeren, T. & Vasterling, J. J. (2012).  Longitudinal PTSD symptom cluster changes in Iraq deployed and non-deployed Army soldiers. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication.  doi: 10.1037/a0029010
  • MacDonald, H. Z, Franz, M., & Vasterling, J. J. (2012). Assessment and treatment of neuropsychological deficits in PTSD.  In R.A. McMackin, T.M. Keane, E. Newman & J.M. Fogler (Eds.), Trauma Therapy in Context: The Science and Craft of Evidence-Based Practice (pp. 331-352).  Washington: American Psychological Association.
  • Monson, C. M., Fredman, S. J., Adair, K. C., Stevens, S. P., Resick, P. A., Schnurr, P. P., MacDonald, H. Z., & Macdonald, A. (2011). Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD: Pilot results from a community sample. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(1), 97-101.  
  • MacDonald, H. Z., Vasterling, J. J., & Rasmusson, A. (2011). Neuropsychological underpinnings of PTSD in children and adolescents. In V. Ardino (Ed.), Posttraumatic syndromes in childhood and adolescence: A handbook of research and practice (pp. 113-134). Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Ellis, B. H., MacDonald, H. Z., Klunk-Gillis, J., Lincoln, A. K., Strunin, L., & Cabral, H. (2010). Discrimination and mental health among Somali refugee adolescents: The role of acculturation and gender. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(4), 564-575.
  • Vasterling, J. J., MacDonald, H. Z., Ulloa, E. W., & Rodier, N. (2010).  Neuropsychological correlates of PTSD: A military perspective.  In C. H. Kennedy and J. L Moore (Eds.), Military Neuropsychology (pp. 321- 359). New York: Springer.
  •  Marx B. P., Brailey K., Proctor S. P., MacDonald H. Z., Graefe A. C., Amoroso P. J., Heeren T., Vasterling J. J. (2009).  Association of time since deployment, combat intensity and posttraumatic stress symptoms with neuropsychological outcomes following Iraq War deployment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66, 996-1004.
  • Vanderbilt, D., Young, R., MacDonald, H. Z., Grant-Knight, W., Zuckerman, B., & Saxe, G. (2008). Asthma severity and PTSD symptoms among inner city children: A pilot study. The Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 9(2), 191-207.
  • MacDonald, H. Z., Beeghly, M., Grant Knight, W., Augustyn, M., Woods, R. W., Cabral, H., Rose Jacobs, R., Saxe, G. N., & Frank, D. A. (2008).  Longitudinal association between infant disorganized attachment and childhood posttraumatic stress symptoms. Development and Psychopathology, 20(2), 493-508.
  • Ellis, B. H., MacDonald, H. Z., Lincoln, A., & Cabral, H. (2008). Mental health of Somali adolescent refugees: The role of trauma, stress, and perceived discrimination. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(2), 184-193.
  • MacDonald, H. Z. (Winter 2008). Neuropsychological functioning in children with posttraumatic stress disorder. Section on Child Maltreatment Newsletter, 12(3).
  • Vasterling, J. J., & MacDonald, H. Z. (2007). Neuropsychological Functioning and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Implications for War-Zone Veterans. Harvard Health Policy Review, 8(2), 177-186.
  • Ellis, B. H., & MacDonald, H. Z. (2007). Improving access to mental health services for refugee children. Traumatic StressPoints, 21(2).
  • Saxe, G. N., MacDonald, H. Z., & Ellis, B. H. (2007). Psychosocial approaches for children with posttraumatic stress disorder. In M. J. Friedman, T. M. Keane, & P.A. Resick (Eds.), Handbook of PTSD: Science and Practice (pp. 359-375). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Grant-Knight, W., MacDonald, H. Z., Clarke, S., & Koenen, K. (2005). PTSD - childhood. In A. Freeman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (pp. 307-313). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic.

Grants + Recognition

Co-Investigator on NIMH R01 (1R01MH094422-01A1) award, Family Adaptation to OIF Deployment (PIs: Jennifer Vasterling, Ph.D.; Casey Taft, Ph.D.).

Research Focus

My research centers on the risk and protective factors impacting the development and course of stress and anxiety disorders in children and adults.  Research has shown that while 50% of the U.S. population are exposed to a traumatic event during their lives, only a small percentage (5-10%) of these individuals go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  My program of research investigates factors predicting who develops PTSD following exposure to extreme stress and who does not.  One line of research specifically examines the association between neuropsychological functioning and PTSD across a variety of populations.  These studies attempt to understand whether people with trauma histories or symptoms of PTSD are more likely than people without these histories to show differences in their abilities to attend, remember, or organize, and, if so, why that might be.

My second line of research is focused on the relationship between mental health, mindfulness, academic, and neurocognitive functioning among college students.  This investigation explores whether mindfulness (i.e., attention and awareness in the present moment) predicts academic and neurocognitive functioning and whether that association is impacted by mental health functioning.  In the future, I am interested in studying whether employing mindfulness skills in the classroom could enhance and strengthen students' learning and academic performance.