Charles J. Gelso, Ph.D., Psychotherapy Research Grant

2016 Grant Recipients

Special Note: This year, there were three recipients of the Gelso Grants

Dr. Jennifer S. Cheavens

Dr. Jennifer S. Cheavens

Jennifer S. Cheavens, Ph.D., for her research proposal, “Exploring potential mechanisms of change in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.”

Jennifer Cheavens is an Associate Professor and the Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at The Ohio State University. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas and completed her internship and post-doctoral fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. Her research interests focus on optimizing psychotherapy treatments for borderline personality disorder and depression through both basic and applied research efforts.

With the current project, Dr. Cheavens plans to investigate the role of therapist validation and invalidation in outcomes of clients participating in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Specifically, observer-ratings of in-session validation will be used to predict session-to-session changes in therapy outcomes, including changes in symptoms, emotion regulation, and interpersonal functioning, over the course of DBT.


Dr. Ken Critchfield

Dr. Ken Critchfield

Ken Critchfield, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, James Madison University, for his proposal “Adherence and outcome in Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy for complex cases.”

Ken Critchfield received his doctoral degree (Ph.D., 2002) in Clinical Psychology from the University of Utah where he used interpersonal models to study psychotherapy processes and case formulation. From 2004-2014, Dr. Critchfield was director of research, and eventually become co-director of the Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (IRT) clinic at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. There, he worked closely with Dr. Lorna Smith Benjamin, creator of IRT, to operationalize and test efficacy and process of change of IRT as applied with adults having severe and chronic psychiatric problems often involving comorbid personality disorder and suicidality. He joined the faculty of the Department of Graduate Psychology at James Madison University in August, 2014 and continues to work in close collaboration with Dr. Benjamin. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and now co-directs JMU’s Combined-Integrated Doctoral Program in Clinical and School Psychology.

The primary goal of this Gelso grant proposal is to enable coding of the level of adherence for therapists and patients in a recently-archived psychotherapy database focused on evaluation of putative mechanisms of change in Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (IRT: Benjamin, 2003/2006; Benjamin, in press). The work is part of a larger study of the effectiveness of IRT in complex cases and would extend current data in new and crucial ways that speak to the validity of the underlying theory by allowing direct tests of whether variability in adherence to principles of IRT predicts change. The work represents a direct extension of methods and findings pursued for over a decade by Drs. Critchfield and Benjamin that has so far resulted in a sequence of empirical, peer-reviewed publications addressing IRT’s basis in copy process theory, its case formulation method, effectiveness, and mechanisms that impact change (Critchfield & Benjamin, 2008; 2010; in preparation; Critchfield, Benjamin, & Levenick, 2015).


Dr. Rayna D. Markin

Dr. Rayna Markin

Rayna D. Markin, Ph.D., for her research proposal, “Psychodynamic psychotherapy for a pregnant woman following perinatal loss: A single-case study analysis of mentalization”

Rayna Markin is an Associate Professor at Villanova University and a Licensed Psychologist in part-time private practice, specializing in maternal mental health. She is also the Early Career Psychologist Domain Representative for Division 29. Dr. Markin is a graduate of the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Maryland, where she completed her dissertation on central relationship themes in group therapy under the advisement of Dr. Dennis M. Kivlighan, Jr. During the course of her graduate studies, she was fortunate to also work with Dr. Charles Gelso on projects related to the therapy relationship and learned from him the value of therapy process research that is theoretically driven. After graduation, Dr. Markin continued her research on the therapy relationship in individual and group therapy; for example, she worked with Dr. Jacques Barber and colleagues on a study of transference and countertransference in Short-Term Expressive Therapy. She has been increasingly influenced by attachment theory and co-authored an APA published book on Attachment in Group Therapy. More recently, she has received several grants to study the effects of early trauma on the expecting mother’s ability to mentalize and attach to her unborn baby and has written on the psychology of pregnancy from a mentalization-attachment perspective.

Charles J. Gelso, Ph.D., Psychotherapy Research Grant

Brief Statement about the Grant:

The Charles J. Gelso, Ph.D., Psychotherapy Research Grant, offered annually by the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy to graduate students, predoctoral interns, postdoctoral fellows, and psychologists (including early career psychologists), provides $5,000 toward the advancement of research on psychotherapy process and/or psychotherapy outcome.


All graduate students, predoctoral interns, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral-level researchers with a promising or successful record of publication are eligible for the grant. The research committee reserves the right not to award a grant if there are insufficient submissions or submissions do not meet the criteria stated.

Submission Deadline: 

April 1, of each year

Request for Proposals


This program awards a $5000 grant for a research project in the area of psychotherapy process and/or outcome.

Program Goals

  • Advance understanding of psychotherapy process and/or psychotherapy outcome through support of empirical research
  • Encourage talented graduate students towards careers in psychotherapy research
  • Support psychologists engaged in quality psychotherapy research

Funding Specifics

  • One annual grant of $5,000 to be paid in one lump sum to the researcher, to his or her university’s grants and contracts office, or to an incorporated company. An individual who receives the funds could incur tax liabilities. A researcher can win only one of these grants. (see Additional Information section below)

Eligibility Requirements

  • Demonstrated or burgeoning competence in the area of proposed work
  • IRB approval must be received from the principal investigator’s institution before funding can be awarded if human participants are involved
  • The same project/lab may not receive funding two years in a row
  • Applicant must be a member of the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy: Join Here

Evaluation Criteria

  • Conformance with goals listed above under “Program Goals”
  • Magnitude of incremental contribution in topic area
  • Quality of proposed work
  • Applicant’s competence to execute the project
  • Appropriate plan for data collection and completion of the project

Proposal Requirements for All Proposals

  • Description of the proposed project to include, title, goals, relevant background, target population, methods, anticipated outcomes, and dissemination plans: not to exceed 3 single-spaced pages (1 inch margins, no smaller than 11-point font)
  • CV of the principal investigator: not to exceed 2 single-spaced pages and should focus on research activities
  • A 300-word biosketch that describes why your experiences and qualifications make you suited for successfully carrying out this research proposal.
  • Timeline for execution (priority given to projects that can be completed within two years)
  • Full budget and justification (indirect costs not permitted), which should take up no more than 1 additional page (the budget should clearly indicate how the grant funds would be spent)
  • Funds may be used to initiate a new project or to supplement additional funding. The research may be at any stage. In any case, justification must be provided for the request of the current grant funds. If the funds will supplement other funding or if the research is already in progress, please explain why the additional funds are needed (e.g., in order to add a new component to the study, add additional participants, etc.)
  • No additional materials are required for doctoral level psychologists who are not postdoctoral fellows
  • Graduate students, predoctoral interns, and postdoctoral fellows should refer to the section immediately below for additional materials that are required.

Additional Proposal Requirements for Graduate Students, Predoctoral Interns, and Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Graduate students, pre-doctoral interns, and postdoctoral fellows should also submit the CV of the mentor who will supervise the work
  • Graduate students and pre-doctoral interns must also submit 2 letters of recommendation, one from the mentor who will be providing guidance during the completion of the project and this letter must indicate the nature of the mentoring relationship
  • Postdoctoral fellows must submit 1 letter of recommendation from the mentor who will be providing guidance during the completion of the project and this letter should indicate the nature of the mentoring relationship

Additional Information

  • After the project is complete, a full accounting of the project’s income and expenses must be submitted within six months of completion
  • Grant funds that are not spent on the project within two years must be returned
  • When the resulting research is published, the grant must be acknowledged
  • All individuals who directly receive funds from the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy will be required to complete an IRS w-9 form prior to the release of funds, and will be sent a 1099 after the end of the fiscal year (December 31st)

Submission Process and Deadline

  • All materials must be submitted electronically at the same time
  • All applicants must complete the grant application form, in MSWord or other text format
  • CV(s) may be submitted in text or PDF format. If submitting more than 1 CV, then all CVs must be included in 1 electronic document/file
  • Proposal and budget must be submitted in 1 file, with a cover sheet to include the name of the principal investigator and complete contact information (address, phone, fax, email)
  • Submit all required materials for proposal to: Tracey A. Martin in the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (Division 29 of APA) Central Office, [email protected]
  • You will receive an electronic confirmation of your submission within 24 hours, which will provide you with an assigned application number. If you do not receive confirmation, your proposal was not received; please resubmit.
  • Deadline:  April 1, of each year

Questions about this program should be directed to the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy Science and Scholarship Domain Representative (Dr. Susan Woodhouse at [email protected]), or Tracey A. Martin in the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (Division 29 of APA) Central Office, [email protected].

Previous Recipients

2015 - Samantha Bernecker; Stephanie Hoover, PhD, Joel M. Town, DClinPsy

2013 – Jenelle Slavin-Mulford, Ph.D.

2012 – Marilyn Cornish

2011 – Michael Constantino

2010 – Stephanie Budge