Melissa Zielinski

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Melissa J. Zielinski, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist currently living and working in Little Rock, Arkansas where she is appointed as an Assistant Professor in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Department of Psychiatry. Her program of research aims to inform the development, implementation, and dissemination of interventions for trauma-related sequelae among vulnerable and underserved populations. She is particularly interested in merging science with clinical practice and policy to improve health outcomes among people who are incarcerated or otherwise justice-involved. Dr. Zielinski also continues to study specific emotion-related processes that can inform understanding of trauma-related psychopathology and its treatment (e.g., emotion invalidation, emotion dysregulation, distress intolerance, and rejection sensitivity), with particular interests in processes related to PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

Dr. Zielinski’s current focus, supported by a NIDA-funded K23 (2019-2024), is evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of a gold-standard psychotherapy for trauma with women and men who have become incarcerated and have a history of substance use disorder. She is particularly interested in whether individuals who receive and benefit from PTSD treatment while incarcerated will have improved post-release outcomes (e.g., less substance use and less future legal involvement). Through completion of her NIDA-funded K23 and participation in IRI, Dr. Zielinski is looking forward to building skills in implementation science research methods so that she is well-prepared to evaluate large-scale implementation of interventions in justice settings.

Dr. Zielinski completed her doctoral degree in the APA-accredited Clinical Psychology program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She completed her T32 postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (PI: Clint Kilts). She is also a fellow in the Criminal Justice Research Training Program at Brown University (PI: Beckwith).