Emily Helminen, school psychology Ph.D. candidate, received funding this September from the Lesbian Health Fund for her research project, Effects of Self-Compassion Practice on Stress Reactivity Among Sexual Minority Women. Helminen aims to use concepts related to the underlying physiology of stress and its impacts on behavioral and mental health to inform the design of interventions that target individuals’ responses to stress.
After earning her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Michigan Technological University, Helminen began working as a post-baccalaureate researcher in the Mind Body Lab with Dr. Joshua Felver, assistant professor of psychology. She eventually became one of Dr. Felver’s graduate students and continues to build and apply her knowledge of physiology and intervention research in the Mind Body Lab. Helminen began her graduate student work within the school psychology Ph.D. program at Syracuse University in 2018. She has since collaborated on various sexual and gender minority-focused research projects in the Minority Stress and Trauma Lab with another mentor, Dr. Jillian Scheer, Cobb-Jones Clinical Psychology Endowed Professor and assistant professor of psychology.
Helminen’s program of research will focus on designing and evaluating compassion-based interventions for people belonging to sexual and gender minority groups. The program will focus on implementing techniques that promote self-compassion as a skill that can be developed to reduce stress and improve mental and behavioral health. Helminen hopes that her research will ultimately help individuals develop effective coping mechanisms, especially those who have been marginalized by society.