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Student Spotlight

SoAP Box: 
Early Career Psychologist Spotlight

Summer 2023

Melissa Hatch, MS

Where do you work and where did you do your training?
In the fall I will be entering the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Rutgers University. Prior to this, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Southern California and a Master of Science in Psychology at The University of New Mexico. I have also worked as a post-baccalaureate research assistant at Brown University and the University of California, San Diego.

What are your research interests?
I am particularly interested in examining patterns of substance use and mechanisms of behavior change in the treatment of addictive behaviors. My goal is to help improve the feasibility and acceptability of brief interventions for substance use disorders in hopes of helping high-risk individuals, particularly those with comorbid mental health conditions. I believe in a harm-reduction approach to substance use treatment that allows individuals to accomplish their own substance use-related goals in order to improve their quality of life.

What are your clinical interests?
My current clinical interests include the treatment of anxiety disorders in adults and working with individuals who have comorbid substance use and mental health disorders. My theoretical orientation is primarily based in cognitive-behavioral models of therapy, but I am also interested in the integration of third-wave techniques.

How did you become interested in addictive behaviors?
I first became interested in addictive behaviors as an undergraduate student at USC in Dr. Gerald Davison’s research lab. There I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant administering brief interventions for alcohol use and examining cognitive-affective change mechanisms involved in the processing of normative drinking data. This role showed me the complexity of addictive behaviors and sparked my interest in learning why individuals use substances and what makes different forms of substance use treatment effective.

What motivated you to join the Society on Addiction Psychology?
Working as a research assistant in the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University I heard many great things about SoAP! I was encouraged to submit a poster to Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction, and I’ve really enjoyed every SoAP-sponsored event I have attended since. I have found SoAP members to be a welcoming group of folks that I always look forward to learning from.

What sort of extracurriculars do you enjoy?
In my free time, I enjoy competing in triathlons and running ultramarathons. I actually completed my first full Ironman triathlon this summer! I find exercising in nature relaxing and restorative, and races provide me with some extra motivation to help keep my work-life balance in check.



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