Our Faculty

Helen Z. MacDonald

Helen Z. MacDonald

Associate Professor of Psychology

Contact Information

617 264-7712

Office Hours

Office: Administration Building, Room 421A

Office hours: Tuesdays 3:00-4:30 p.m.; Wednesdays 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; and by appointment


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
  • PSYCH3601 - Counseling Theories and Techniques
  • PSYCH4494 and 4495 - Applied Internship in Psychology

Publications & Presentations

* Denotes undergraduate author

  • Wieman, S. T., Fields, J., Arditte Hall, K. A., MacDonald, H. Z., & Liverant, G. I. (2022). Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on anhedonia, reward exposure and responsiveness, and sleep in college students. Journal of American College Health, 1–5. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2022.2047705

  • MacDonald, H. Z., & Neville, T. * (2022). Promoting mindfulness, mental health, and self-compassion in the time of COVID-19: Feasibility and efficacy of an online, interactive, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction randomized trial among undergraduate college students. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy. https://doi.org/10.1080/87568225.2022.2028329

  • Weiman, S. T., Arditte Hall, K. A.; MacDonald, H. Z., Gallagher, M., Suvak, M., Rando, A., & Liverant, G. I. (2022). Relationships among sleep disturbance, reward system functioning, anhedonia, and depressive symptoms. Behavior Therapy, 53(1), 105-118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2021.06.006.

  • Free, J. L., & MacDonald, H. Z. (2021). “I’m numb to funerals now…”: The impact ofjob-related trauma exposure on youth violence prevention streetworkers. Traumatology. https://doi.org/10.1037/trm0000340

  • MacDonald, H. Z. (2021). Associations of five facets of mindfulness with self-regulation in college students. Psychological Reports, 124(3), 1202-1219. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033294120937438

  • MacDonald, H. Z. & Olsen, A.* (2020). The role of attentional control in the  relationship between mindfulness and anxiety. Psychological Reports, 123(3), 759-780. doi: 10.1177/0033294119835756

  • Free, J., & MacDonald, H. Z. (2019). “I’ve had to bury a lot of kids over the years…":Violence prevention streetworkers’ exposure to trauma. Journal of Community Psychology, 47(5)1197-1209. doi: 10.1002/jcop.22191

  • MacDonald, H. Z. & Price, J. L. (2019). The role of emotion regulation in the relationshipbetween empathy and internalizing symptoms in college students. Mental Health and Prevention13, 43-49. doi: 10.1016/j.mhp.2018.11.004

  • MacDonald, H. Z. & Price, J. L. (2017). Emotional understanding: Examining alexithymia as a mediator of the relationship between mindfulness and empathy. Mindfulness, 8(6), 1644-1652doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0739-5

  • MacDonald, H. Z., & Baxter, E. E.* (2017). Mediators of the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and psychological well-being in female college students. Mindfulness, 8(2), 398-407. doi: 10.1007/s12671-016-0611-z

  • Price, J. L., MacDonald, H. Z., Adair, K. C., Koerner, N., & Monson, C. M. (2016). Changing beliefs about trauma: A qualitative study of cognitive processing therapy. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 44(2), 156-167. doi: 10.1017/S1352465814000526

  • Vasterling, J. J., Taft, C. T., Proctor, S. P., MacDonald, H. Z., Lawrence, A., Kalill, K., Kaiser, A.P., Lee, L. O., King, D. W., King, L. A., & Fairbank, J. A. (2015).  Establishing amethodology to examine the effects of war-zone PTSD on the family:  The Family Foundations Study. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 24(2), 143-155. doi: 10.1002/mpr.1464.

  • MacDonald, H. Z., Ellis, B. H., Pulsifer, M., & Lyons, M. J. (2015). Executive functioning in children with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 8(1), 1-11. doi: 10.1007/s40653-015-0037-0

  • MacDonald, H. Z., Proctor, S. P., Heeren, T. & Vasterling, J. J. (2013).  Associations of postdeployment PTSD symptoms with predeployment symptoms in Iraq-deployed Army soldiers. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 5(5), 470-476.  doi:10.1037/a0029010

Principal Investigator: The Program for Mindfulness and Contemplative Learning at Emmanuel College.  Frederick P. Lenz Foundation; received November 2020.

Principal Investigator:  The Program for Mindfulness and Contemplative Learning at Emmanuel College.  Frederick P. Lenz Foundation; received September 2018.

Co-Investigator:  Family Adaptation to OIF Deployment.  NIMH (1R01MH094422-01A1); 5/2012 – 4/2016.

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 whereas 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.

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