Social & Emotional Well-Being Lab

Dr. Gary Fireman's lab explores social and emotional well-being, guided by two branches of study: sleep and bullying.

Dr. Gary Fireman

To learn more about Dr. Gary Fireman and his work, please visit his faculty page.

Current Research Projects

The sleep branch of the lab examines how emotions are processed through dreams, bad dreams, and nightmares as well as how the relationship between stress and sleep is informed by intrapsychic and interpersonal variables. We are investigating how nightmares and disturbed dreams relate to emotions, affect load, and experiential avoidance. Recent sleep research also has investigated factors that are involved in the reciprocal relationship between stress and sleep. We have studied how fear and anger affect cardiovascular reactivity and recovery in relation to sleep quality. Additionally, we have investigated how one's tendency to ruminate, worry, and/or react with hostility influences the stress-sleep relationship.

The bullying branch of the lab has explored several different components of peer aggression and exclusion. Recent research focused on the experience of electronic bullying, or cyberbullying, versus in-person or more traditional views of bullying. The research examines differences in emotions associated with cyber versus traditional bullying as well as behavioral responses and coping mechanisms for different types of bullying. We also have studied how different forms of bullying, such as peer exclusion versus embarrassment, affect pro-social behaviors and emotional reactions. Current ongoing research investigates how the framing effect interacts with memories of bullying experiences. This research probes the cognitive frames that influence our conceptualization of bullying experiences and affect emotional well-being, behavioral reactions to bullying, expectations of future bullying, and self-concept. Overall, the bullying branch of the lab seeks to better understand the pathways leading to differential outcomes and trajectories after being bullied, from those who experience resilience in the face of bullying to those who suffer more negative long-term consequences. 

Current Graduate Students

Profile Picture of Sarah Hopkins

I am a fifth-year Clinical Psychology PhD candidate in the Clinical Psychology PhD program. I’m originally from Central Massachusetts and completed my undergraduate education at Elon University in North Carolina, where I graduated in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and concentration in Latin American studies. My post-bachelor’s experiences included working as a counselor in a residential group home for teenagers utilizing a DBT-based program. I was also a research coordinator in the Psychotic Disorders Research Program at UMass Medical School in Worcester, MA, where I was responsible for conducting daily study visits and research-related tasks for those participating in investigational medication trial and psychosocial intervention studies. In this role, I also conducted clinical eligibility screenings for the First Episode Psychosis Clinic (STEP). These experiences helped me realize my passion for working with individuals suffering from psychopathology and led me to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist.

I’ve had a number of clinical training experiences during graduate school, including conducting individual psychotherapy in a college counseling center, and a specialty clinic for mood and anxiety-related disorders at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). I gained experience with assessment conducting neuropsychological evaluations for children and adults in a private assessment clinic (Grove Counseling Services), and worked in a clinical and research capacity at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program (IBHCRP). I’m currently completing advanced clinical training at the CEDAR (Center for Early Detection Assessment and Response to Risk) Clinic, where I work with young people with clinical high risk for psychosis and their families providing evaluation, assessment and specialized clinical care.

Complementing these clinical experiences, I enjoy teaching at the undergraduate level and look forward to broadening my educational training by teaching a class in General Psychology this fall through remote, online classes. In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor activities and eating good food with close friends and family!

Research Interests

In the Social and Emotional Well-Being Lab under the mentorship of Dr. Gary Fireman, I study the impacts of relational variables and group processes on social and emotional adjustment across the lifespan. My master’s thesis examined how early adolescent profiles of social cohesion and stress are associated with peer aggression and prosocial behavior. I enjoy studying these variables with a multi-systems perspective by utilizing a combination of variable and person-centered statistical analyses. Other investigations have focused on children’s experience of mixed emotions, social behavior patterns in youth, the framing effect, and college student responses to the COVID-19 pandemic on Twitter. For my dissertation, I am investigating how different communicated frames about bullying impact current bystander behavior particularly related to risk-taking in social settings, and how individual factors including moral disengagement may mediate the association between communicated frames and outcomes of interest. As the intervention will involve participants writing personal narratives about past bullying experiences, there will be both qualitative and quantitative data results collected.

Olivia is an alum to Suffolk University’s Clinical Psychology program and remains active in the Social and Emotional Well-Being Lab. As a psychological scientist, she values elucidating intrapsychic and interpersonal processes that expedite change toward holistic well-being. She is intrigued by the psychological mechanics of health acquisition and maintenance, and she enjoys using complex statistical methods to model nuanced processes. Her dissertation research examined the sleep-emotion relationship as a bidirectional process, relating to insomnia and cognitive patterns associated with transdiagnostic constructs. The experimental component of my dissertation examined how methodological assessment timing biases self-reporting behavior. Her Master's project at Suffolk employed multilevel moderated mediation to compare how the relationship between stress and sleep quality is augmented by two cognitive processes - rumination and worry (i.e., repetitive negative thought about the past and future, respectively). Additional past and current research projects examine other sleep-related variables including dreams and sleep-wake equilibration, the framing effect, memory bias, social resilience, mindfulness, COVID-19 impacts, and biological wellness.

Her professional journey has been multifaceted and fulfilling. She grew up in Western Massachusetts and graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor's Degree in Neuroscience and Behavior. For two years, she then worked in Cambridge, MA as a Residential Counselor Supervisor and group leader in a treatment facility for people with eating disorders. As a clinical psychology graduate student at Suffolk, she trained within the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Newton Public Schools (NPS), and Suffolk Counseling Health and Wellness (CHW) center. She worked as a Behavioral Health Specialist at Boston Medical Center (BMC) for people with HIV as well as people with opiate use disorder. As a graduate fellow, she worked as a research Analyst within Suffolk's Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA). Along with the wonderful team there, she conducted institutional level data analytics to inform decision-making to promote student success and positive systemic change. At Suffolk, she also taught the Human Sexuality course, mentored junior students in the lab, and she led zazen groups within Suffolk’s Interfaith Center.

Most recently, she completed predoctoral internship training at the Albany Psychology Internship Consortium in NY State. It involved working at 3 sites: Albany Medical College (AMC), NY state Capital District Psychiatric Center (CDPC), and the Stratton VA Medical Center. She completed extensive training in conducting (a) integrative psychotherapy for people with complex trauma and (b) neuropsychological assessment. Additionally, at CDPC she served as a Consultant to the Director of Program Evaluation and Performance Improvement, using a data-driven approach to increase patient and staff satisfaction on the inpatient units. Having completed my Ph.D. in 2021, she is now conducting research, assessment, and psychotherapy to serve a variety of populations.

Research Interests

Sleep; Emotions; Framing Effect; Lifespan Development; Education; Holistic Health; Statistical Modeling

Selected Research Projects

Tousignant, O.H. & Fireman, G.D. (2020). Effects of Biotic and Abiotic Crises: A 13-item assessment (EBAC-13). Qualtrics.

Fergusson, A., Hopkins, S., Stark, A.M., Tousignant, O.H., Fireman, G.D. (2020). Children expressing mixed emotion in a nonsocial context. The Journal of Genetic Psychology.

Tousignant, O. H., Taylor, N. D., Suvak, M. K., & Fireman, G. D. (2019). Effects of rumination and worry on sleep. Behavior Therapy, 50, 558-570.

Stark, A.M., Tousignant, O.H., & Fireman, G.D. (2019). Gender-based effects of frames on bullying outcomes. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 153, 555-574. doi:10.1080/00223980.2019.1578192.

Tousignant, O.H. (2018). Reconsidering our Investments: A commentary on gut-brain health. Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine, 12, 1-2. doi:10.4172/1747-0862.1000335

Sullivan, E.L., Tousignant, O.H., & Fireman, G.D. (2017). Fear-based stress associated with sleep quality. Madridge Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences, 1, 18-25. doi: 10.18689/mjbss.2017-104

Treva Kennedy-Pyers

I am a first-year psychology graduate student in Suffolk University’s Clinical Doctoral Program.

I grew up on a small farm in Loomis, California and I received my bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of California, Davis. After working for several years as a counselor in a health clinic, I moved to NYC to do a post-baccalaureate program in psychology at Columbia University.

While at Columbia, I managed the Metacognition and Memory Lab under Dr. Janet Metcalfe. There, I aided in the development and computer programming of several experiments on memory, learning and epistemic curiosity.

Simultaneously, I worked as a research assistant in Dr. Christine Cha’s Laboratory for Clinical and Developmental studies (LCDS) where I gained experience studying clinical populations. At LCDS, I assisted with a study that looked at suicidal and non-suicidal adolescents’ abilities to imagine the future and remember the past. I also completed my own study looking at the relationship between suicide gesture and different types of interpersonal stress.

My experiences as a counselor and researcher solidified my desire to pursue both clinical work and research. I am interested in studying memory for social events, particularly where cyber-victimization is involved.

In my free time, I like to run, cook, write and help my husband design puzzles and games for his job.


Metcalfe, J., Kennedy-Pyers, T., Vuorre, M. (2020). Curiosity and the Desire for Agency: Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! Manuscript submitted for publication.

Kennedy-Pyers, T. M., & Cha, C. B. (2019, October). A two-study investigation of suicide gesture: Exploring the potential role of interpersonal stress. Poster presented at the IASR/AFSP International Summit on Suicide Research, Miami Beach, FL.

I am a first year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Suffolk University. I graduated from Simmons University (formerly Simmons College) with a dual bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations. During my senior year at Simmons, I conducted a senior research project on nightly technology use and its effect on sleep and mood. Following graduation, I worked at Dana Farber Cancer Institute as a research assistant in the Perini Family Survivors’ Center. During my time in this position, I worked on numerous quality of life studies, including research on insomnia, fatigue, sexual health, anxiety, depression, sun exposure, and posttraumatic stress. Of note, I worked on a clinical trial testing the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, and compared it to a one-time sleep hygiene session using a stepped-care approach. I was then promoted to research manager for a study comparing the structured clinical interview for the DSM-5 (SCID-5) to self-report measures in assessing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in young adult cancer survivors. In this position I administered over 300 SCID-5 interviews.

Research Interests

Insomnia; Sleep; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Trauma; Assessment; Implementation and Dissemination of Interventions; Technology-Based Interventions


Michaud AL, Zhou ES, Chang G, Recklitis CJ. Validation of the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) for identifying insomnia in young adult cancer survivors: comparison with a structured clinical diagnostic interview of the DSM-5 (SCID-5). Sleep Med. 2021;81;80-85.

Frederick NN, Fine E, Michaud AL, Recklitis CJ, Bober SL. Pediatric hematology and oncology fellow education in sexual and reproductive health: A survey of fellowship program directors in the United States. Pediatric Blood Cancer. 2020;e28245.

Michaud AL, Cadigan C, Mason C, Recklitis CJ. Evaluating the Brief Parental Intake Form (BPIF) for psychosocial difficulties in childhood cancer survivors. Psychooncology. 2020;10.1002/pon.5482.

Zhou ES, Michaud AL, Owens J, Recklitis CJ. Sleep in young adult cancer survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Clin Sleep Med. 2020;jc-20-00475.

Zhou ES, Michaud AL, Recklitis CJ. Developing Efficient and Effective Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia in Cancer Survivors: Results of a Stepped Care Trial. Cancer. 2020;11(1):74-79.

Bober SL, Michaud AL, Recklitis CJ. Finding sexual health aids after cancer: are cancer centers supporting survivors’ needs? J Cancer Surviv. 2019;13(2):224-230.

Frederick NN, Revette A, Michaud A, Bober SL. A qualitative study of sexual and reproductive health communication with adolescent and young adult oncology patients. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2019;66(6):e27673.

Kenney LB, Ames B, Margossian R, Moss K, Michaud AL, Williams DN, Nohria A. Regional practice norms for the care of childhood cancer survivors at risk for cardiomyopathy: A Delphi study. Pediatric Blood Cancer. 2019;66(9):e27868.

Zhou ES, Hall KT, Michaud AL, Blackmon JE, Partridge AH, Recklitis CJ. Open-label placebo reduces fatigue in cancer survivors: a randomized trial. Support Care Cancer. 2019;27(6):2179-2187.

Bober SL, Recklitis CJ, Michaud AL, Wright AA. Improvement in sexual function after ovarian cancer: Effects of sexual therapy and rehabilitation after treatment for ovarian cancer. Cancer. 2018;124(1):176-182.

Kenney LB, Ames B, Michaud AL, Williams DN, Manley P, Ullrich NJ. The management of childhood cancer survivors at risk for stroke: A Delphi survey of regional  experts. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2018;65(12):e27394.

Zhou ES, Partridge AH, Syrjala KL, Michaud AL, Recklitis CJ. Evaluation and treatment of insomnia in adult cancer survivorship programs. J Cancer Surviv. 2017;11(1):74-79.

Lebovidge JS, Michaud A, Deleon A, Harada L, Wasserman S, Schneider LC.Evaluating a handbook for parents of children with food allergy: a randomized clinical trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016;116(3):23-236.

Interested in joining the lab?

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I contact Dr. Fireman to determine if he is accepting students?

To see if I am currently accepting students and to get an overview of my areas of expertise, check the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program Admissions page.

What type of applicant are you looking for?

I am most interested in doctoral applicants with strong academic credentials, outstanding letters of recommendation, solid research experience and a personal statement that clearly articulates the way in which your specific interests match with my areas of expertise.

Can I work in the lab if I am an undergraduate?

Yes, you can work in our lab either for course credit (PSYCH-510) or as a volunteer. Please consult our webpage to see whether your areas of interest match and feel free to contact me or the graduate students in the lab.