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Christie Rizzo, Ph.D. - Global Resilience Institute. Boston, MA, US

Christie Rizzo, Ph.D. Christie Rizzo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Applied Psychology, Northeastern University | Faculty Affiliate, Global Resilience Institute


Dr. Rizzo focuses on the development & implementation of evidence-based, dating violence & risk behavior prevention programming for youth.






Teen dating violence: What every parent should know




Christie J. Rizzo, Associate Professor of Applied Psychology, earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California. She completed her internship in Clinical Psychology at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and her postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) at Brown University. Dr. Rizzo was previously the Assistant Director of the Juvenile Mental Health Clinic at the Rhode Island Family Court. Dr. Rizzo’s research focuses on the development and implementation of evidence-based, violence and risk behavior prevention programming for youth, including technology-based initiatives. Her prevention work centers around the use of skills-based approaches to both reduce risk and promote resilience among our most vulnerable youth including those involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Areas of Expertise (3)

Risk Behaviour Prevention Social and Community Resiliance Among Vulnerable Youth

Education (3)

University of Southern California: Ph.D., Clinical Psychology 2005

University of Southern California: M.A., Psychology 2002

Barnard College of Columbia University: B.A., Psychology 1999

Media Appearances (4)

3QS: Fixing Massachusetts’ Troubled Foster Care System

News @ Northeastern  


Last week, the death of a 2-year-old foster child in Auburn, Massachusetts, drew widespread attention to the state’s troubled child welfare system. As criticism of its Department of Children and Families continues to mount, we spoke with Northeastern professors Elise Dallimore and Christie Rizzo. Dallimore, an associate professor of communication studies and a foster parent herself, studies the role of communication in the process of organizational learning, including methods for enhancing organizational development activities. Rizzo, an associate professor of applied psychology who served as the assistant director of the Juvenile Mental Health Clinic at the Rhode Island Family Court, studies the prevention of high-risk behaviors among adolescents in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems...

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How #metoo Creates Solidarity for Victims of Sexual Harassment

News @ Northeastern  


As the proliferation of voices continues to put sexual harassment in the national spotlight, what will be the psychological impact on victims? How can those dealing with trauma get the mental health care they need? We asked Christie Rizzo, associate professor of applied psychology in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, these questions and more...

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Why ‘Rage Rooms’ Won’t Solve Your Anger Issues

News @ Northeastern  


Rage rooms—where stressed out people go to relieve tension by smashing furniture, housewares, and electronics with baseball bats, crowbars, and sledgehammers—have become a global phenomenon. But taking out your frustration on chairs, dishes, flat-screen TVs—or fax machines, like a character from the 1999 cult classic Office Space—is not an effective form of anger management, according to Christie Rizzo, associate professor in the Department of Applied Psychology...

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Feeling Stressed? Try an Anger Room.

Outside Magazine  


Brad Bushman, a psychology researcher at Ohio State University, told me that using a rage room to reduce anger is “like using gasoline to put out a fire.” Angry people love to vent, Bushman said, and while that catharsis feels good, it’s not the best coping strategy for someone prone to flying into a fury. But Christie Rizzo, an associate professor of applied psychology at Northeastern University, argues that for most of us, decompressing in this manner is probably harmless. “It’s just designed to be something fun,” she said. “Though I wouldn’t want people thinking, This is going to help me with that problem I’ve been having with my anger. You’re going to be wasting your money.”...

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Articles (5)

Depressive symptoms moderate dating violence prevention outcomes among adolescent girls Journal of Interpersonal Violence

Charlene Collibee, Christie J Rizzo, Kathleen Kemp, Erik Hood, Hannah Doucette, Daniel I Gittins Stone, Brett DeJesus


Purpose: Few dating violence prevention programs assess how variations in initial violence risk affects responsiveness. This study examines the efficacy of Date SMART, a dating violence and sexual risk prevention program designed to target high-risk adolescent girls, in preventing dating violence in the context of varying initial levels of depressive symptoms.

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Brief report: a network analysis of self-cutting risk among late adolescent girls exposed to dating violence Journal of Adolescence

Daniel Ian Gittins Stone, Russell DuBois, Brett DeJesus, Rachel F Rodgers, Christie Rizzo


Adolescent self-directed violence (SDV) is a major public health concern. Adolescent girls exposed to dating violence (DV) are a particularly vulnerable group. Numerous studies have examined the number and type of SDV risk factors, but few examined global patterns of relationships among them. Exploring global patterns of risk is crucial to developing targeted prevention efforts. In this study we applied a network model to identify risk patterns for a common form of SDV, self-cutting, among American adolescent girls (N = 109) with history of DV. Risk factor networks were compared among girls who did/did not endorse lifetime self-cutting. Girls with a history of self-cutting (19%) had a risk factor network characterized by a higher number of associations than girls who did not (test statistic = 0.142; 95% CI = 02-.03). For these girls, the experience of one risk factor is more likely to co-occur with multiple others, thereby potentially compounding effects and unwanted consequences.

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Individual and Relationship Characteristics of Adolescent Girls With Histories of Physical Dating Violence Journal of Interpersonal Violence

Christie J Rizzo, Meredith C Joppa, David Barker, Caron Zlotnick, Justine Warren, Hans Saint-Eloi Cadely, Larry K Brown


The objective of this article is to examine the individual and relational characteristics of adolescent girls with a history of physical DV, as well as to utilize partner-specific, temporal data to explore links between these factors and recent or ongoing DV experiences. Participants were 109 high school girls (ages 14-17) identified as having a history of DV through a school-based screening procedure. Details regarding the timing of DV and links with specific dating partners were gathered using Timeline Followback (TLFB) interview methodology. At study entry, 30% endorsed clinical levels of depression symptoms and 89% reported delinquent behaviors. Forty-four percent reported vaginal intercourse in their lifetime and of those, 35% reported not using a condom at last sex. During the 90 days prior to study entry, 69% of youth reported having a romantic relationship and 58% of those youth reported physical/sexual violence. Data revealed that more physical/sexual violence was associated with longer relationship length, Wald χ2(2) = 1,142.63, p < .001. Furthermore, depressive symptoms, not delinquency, contributed significantly to recent DV experiences, even when relationship length was controlled. Our findings suggest that prevention programs for this population should teach participants how to quickly recognize unhealthy relationship characteristics, as violence severity increases with relationship length. Programs for adolescent girls should also address depressive symptoms, which are linked to DV severity when other risks are taken into account. Finally, the TLFB calendar method appears useful for gathering the temporal and partner-specific data needed to understand the complexity of dating relationships and violence experiences in this population.

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Project Date SMART: a Dating Violence (DV) and Sexual Risk Prevention Program for Adolescent Girls with Prior DV Exposure Prevention Science

Christie J Rizzo, Meredith Joppa, David Barker, Charlene Collibee, Caron Zlotnick, Larry K Brown


This study assessed the initial feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of an intervention aimed at reducing dating violence and sexual risk behavior in a sample of adolescent girls (ages 14–17) with prior exposure to physical dating violence (DV). One hundred and nine girls were randomly assigned to Date SMART (Skills to Manage Aggression in Relationships for Teens) or a Knowledge-only (KO) comparison group. Both intervention arms consisted of six, weekly 2-h sessions and one “booster” session 6 weeks later. Based on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, the Date SMART intervention was designed to target common underlying skills deficits linked to both DV and sexual risk behavior in adolescent females: depression, self-regulation deficits, and interpersonal skills deficits. Assessments were administered at four time points (baseline, 3, 6, and 9 months). The Date SMART group was effective as reducing sexual DV involvement across the 9-month follow-up period. Both groups evidenced clinically meaningful reductions in physical, emotional, and digital DV involvement, total time in dating relationships, as well as reductions in depression. Findings indicate that delivering a DV and sexual risk prevention intervention to DV-affected adolescent girls is feasible and well-received. Furthermore, a skills-based approach that addresses the co-occurrence of DV and sexual risk behavior may be particularly useful for promoting reductions of sexual DV among high-risk adolescent girls. A future, large-scale trial with an inactive comparison condition is needed to evaluate the efficacy of Date SMART further.

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The longitudinal relation between personality disorder symptoms and depression in adolescence: the mediating role of interpersonal stress US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Daley SE, Rizzo CJ, Gunderson BH.


The relation between personality disorder (PD) symptoms, depression, and interpersonal stress were examined over 6 months in a sample of 143 adolescents from a low-income urban high school. Both self report questionnaires in the full sample and structured interviews in a subset of 54 girls indicated the following: PD symptoms predicted greater depressive symptoms and interpersonal stress over time; PD symptoms were highly stable; depressive symptoms did not predict change in PD symptoms over time...

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