Melissa J. Zielinski, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences



Research Expertise

Dr. Zielinski is an Assistant Professor and clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She directs the Health and the Legal System (HEALS) Lab, a diverse group of scholars and clinical trainees focused on the intersections among trauma, mental illness, addiction, and the legal system. Most of her work has focused on justice-involved women, many of whom are survivors of sexual and domestic violence. However, her work on PTSD within legally-relevant contexts (e.g., community corrections centers, drug treatment courts, jail) has included both women and men. 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 clinical expertise is in evidence-based therapies for posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Translational Research Institute profile

Recent Publications

  1. Zielinski, M. J., Allison, M. K., Brinkley-Rubinstein, L., Curran, G., Zaller, N. D., & Kirchner, J. E. (In press; 2020, July). Making change happen in criminal justice settings: Leveraging implementation science to improve mental health care. Health & Justice.
  2. Baker. D. E., Hill, M., Chamberlain, K., Hurd, L., Karlsson, M. E., Zielinski, M. J., Calvert, M. U., & Bridges, A. J. (2020, June). Interpersonal vs. non-interpersonal cumulative traumas and psychiatric symptoms in treatment-seeking incarcerated women. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2020. 1760172 [Online First Publication]
  3. Bridges, A. J., Baker, D. E., Hurd, L. E., Spero, K. D., Hill, M. A., Karlsson, M. E., Zielinski, M. J. (2020, February). How does timing affect trauma treatment for women who are incarcerated? An empirical analysis. Criminal Justice and Behavior. [Online First Publication]
  4. Karlsson, M. E., & Zielinski, M. J. (2020). Sexual victimization and mental illness prevalence rates among incarcerated women: A literature review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 21(2), 326-349. doi: 10.1177/1524838018767933
  5. Karlsson, M. E., Zielinski, M. J., & Bridges, A. J. (2020). Replicating outcomes of Survivors Healing from Abuse: Recovery through Exposure (SHARE): A brief exposure-based treatment for incarcerated survivors of sexual violence. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy, 12(3), 300-305. doi: 10.1037/tra0000504
  6. Fortney, J. C., Heagerty, P. J., Bauer, A. M., Cerimele, J. M., Kaysen, D., Pfeiffer, P. N., Zielinski, M. J., Pyne, J. M., Bowen, D., Russo, J., Ferro, L., Moore, D., Nolan, J. P.,  Fee, F. C., Heral, T., Freyholtz-London, J., McDonald, B., Mullins, J., Hafer, E., Solberg, L., Unützer, J. (2020) Study to Promote Innovation in Rural Integrated Telepsychiatry (SPIRIT):  Rationale and design of a randomized comparative effectiveness trial of managing  complex psychiatric disorders in rural primary care clinics. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 90, 105873. doi:10.1016.j.cct.2019.105873
  7. Nowotny, K. M.,** Zielinski, M. J.,** Stringer, K. L., Pugh, T., Wu, E., Rosen-Metsch, L., El-Bassel, N., Nunn, A. S., & Beckwith, C. G. (2020). Training the next generation of researchers dedicated to improving outcomes for justice-involved populations. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1), S18-20. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305411
  8. Neher, T. L., Udochi, A. L., Wilson, K. A., Guillory, D. M., Zaller, N. D., & Zielinski, M. J.+ (2020) Conducting health research in carceral systems: Considerations and recommendations. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1), S52-S55. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305449
  9. Zaller, N., Donadeo, K., Coffey, J., Zielinski, M. J., & Brinkley-Rubinstien, L. (2019). Screening for opioid use disorder in the largest jail in Arkansas: A brief report. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 25(3), 214-218. doi: 10.1177/1078345819852133
  10. Zielinski, M. J., & Veilleux, J. C. (2018). The Perceived Invalidation of Emotion Scale (PIES): Development and psychometric properties of a novel measure of current emotion invalidation. Psychological A
  11. ssessment, 30(11), 1454-1467. doi: 10.1037/pas0000584
  12. Zielinski, M. J., Hill, M. A., & Veilleux, J. C. (2018). Is the first cut really the deepest? Frequency and recency of nonsuicidal self-injury as predictors of psychopathology and dysregulation. Psychiatry Research, 259, 392-397. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.10.030
  13. Roley-Roberts, M. E., Zielinski, M. J., Hurtado, G., Hovey, J. D., & Elhai, J. (2017). Functions of non-suicidal self-injury are differentially associated with suicide ideation and past attempts among childhood trauma survivors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 47(4), 450-460. doi: 10.1111/sltb.12306
  14. Zielinski, M. J., Karlsson, M. E., & Bridges, A. J. (2016). Adapting evidence-based trauma treatment for incarcerated women: A model for implementing exposure-based group therapy and considerations for practitioners. the Behavior Therapist, 39(6), 205-210.
  15. Karlsson, M. E., Zielinski, M. J., & Bridges, A. J. (2015). Expanding research on a brief exposure-based group treatment with incarcerated women. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 54, 599-617. doi: 10.1080/10509674.2015.1088918
  16. Zielinski, M. J., Borders, A., & Giancola, P. (2015). Does hostile rumination mediate the associations between child abuse, parenting characteristics, and borderline features in adulthood? Personality and Mental Health, 9, 288-297. doi: 10.1002/pmh.1306