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Jessica Borelli - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Jessica Borelli Jessica Borelli

Associate Professor of Psychological Science | UC Irvine


Jessie Borelli's research focuses on the links between close relationships and mental health






What does THRIVE Lab do? Parkside Chats: Pandemic Parenting with Jessica Borelli (Bonus Material!)



Jessie Borelli is an Associate Professor of Psychological Science at University of California, Irvine. She is a clinical psychologist specializing the field of developmental psychopathology; her research focuses on the links between close relationships, emotions, health, and development, with a particular focus on risk for anxiety and depression.

Jessie Borelli also maintains a small private practice where she sees children, adolescents, adults, couples and families, with a specialization in the areas of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, adoption, and parenting (www.compass-therapy.com).

Areas of Expertise (7)




Mental Health



Parent-Child Relationships

Education (2)

Yale University: PhD, Clinical Psychology

UC Berkeley: BA

Media Appearances (4)

Quarantine parenting

UCI News  online


Jessica Borelli, UCI associate professor of psychological science and a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in parent-child relationships, offers a few tips for “quarantine parenting.”

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UCI Podcast: Mental health and self-isolation

UCI News  online


Jessica Borelli, UCI associate professor of psychological science, studies the links between close relationships, emotions, health and development, with a particular focus on the risk for anxiety and depression. In this special UCI Podcast, she discusses how to stay safe and sane during social distancing. Major disruptions in your daily bodily rhythms can be a sign that something is wrong, so Borelli recommends taking advantage of home confinement to maintain your health and add fun family activities to the mix.

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How to Decipher the Emotions Behind Your Child’s Behaviors

Greater Good Magazine  online


Some version of this battle occurred daily over a very long three weeks, during which I tried five different types of brushing implements—from wide-toothed combs to wet brushes—three different kinds of spray-on conditioners, myriad forms of distraction (songs, books, TV), and, of course, the promise of lots of rewards. Yet nothing worked, for this kiddo did not want to have her hair combed. It was no use.

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The Triple Bind: Moms Who Work

Psychology Today  online


Steve Hinshaw argues that adolescent girls face an impossible situation—a triple bind—striving for perfection in far too many realms than it is possible to achieve.

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Research Grants (1)

A Comprehensive Parent-Child Prevention Program for Youth Violence: The YEA/MADRES Program

Centers for Disease Control - National Center for Injury Prevention and Control $1,025,178

2017 - 2020 Principal Investigator: Nancy Guerra, Ph.D. Co-Principal Investigator: Jessica L. Borelli, Ph.D.

Articles (8)

I “get” you, babe: Reflective functioning in partners transitioning to parenthood

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

Jessica L. Borelli, Arietta Slade, Corey Pettit, Dana Shai

2020 Reflective functioning (RF) is a construct that has gained tremendous traction in the developmental psychology literature, demonstrating robust associations with parent–child attachment and interactional quality. Although theorists argue that RF should have meaningful links with relationship quality across the life span, to date this construct has not been applied to the study of adult romantic partnerships.

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Flattening the Mental Health Curve in the Time of COVID-19: A Call to Action for Clinical Psychological Science


2020 COVID-19 presents humanity with its greatest social, economic, and medical challenges of the 21st century. Because COVID-19 has already begun to precipitate huge increases in mental health problems, we believe that clinical psychological science must play a leadership role in guiding a national response to this secondary crisis.

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Reflective functioning and empathy among mothers of school-aged children: Charting the space between.

American Psychological Association

Borelli, J. L., Stern, J. A., Marvin, M. J., Smiley, P. A., Pettit, C., & Samudio, M.

2020 Parental child-focused reflective functioning (RF)—understanding children’s behavior as a function of mental states—and parental empathy—understanding, resonating with, and feeling concern for children’s emotions—have each been linked to sensitive caregiving and children’s attachment security in separate studies, but they have been neither directly compared nor have researchers tested whether they interact in predicting child outcomes.

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Interpersonal physiological regulation during couple support interactions: Examining the role of respiratory sinus arrhythmia and emotional support


2019 In times of need, people seek comfort and support from close others. Support provision is an integral component of attachment relationships, one that is linked with physical and psychological well‐being. Successful support provision is believed to be grounded in transactions of sensitive, caring behavior between caregivers and support seekers and to serve a profound regulatory function.

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Children's and Mothers' Cardiovascular Reactivity to a Standardized Laboratory Stressor: Unique Relations With Maternal Anxiety and Overcontrol


2018 Research documents bidirectional associations between parental overcontrol (OC) and children's anxiety; OC may place children at risk for anxiety and also may occur in response to children's requests for help. However, to date no studies have examined children's or parents' in-the-moment emotional responses to OC.

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Gender Differences in Work-Family Guilt in Parents of Young Children

Sex Roles

2017 The transition to parenthood is a watershed moment for most parents, introducing the possibility of intra-individual and interpersonal growth or decline. Given the increasing number of dual-earner couples in the United States, new parents’ attitudes towards employment (as well as the ways in which they balance employment and personal demands) may have an impact on their overall well-being.

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Mothering From the Inside Out: Results of a Second Randomized Clinical Trial Testing a Mentalization-Based Intervention for Mothers in Addiction Treatment

Dev Psychopathol

2017 Mothers with histories of alcohol and drug addiction have shown greater difficulty parenting young children than mothers with no history of substance misuse. This study was the second randomized clinical trial testing the efficacy of Mothering From the Inside Out (MIO), a 12-week mentalization-based individual therapy designed to address psychological deficits commonly associated with chronic substance use that also interfere with the capacity to parent young children.

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Reflective Functioning, Physiological Reactivity, and Overcontrol in Mothers: Links With School-Aged Children's Reflective Functioning

Dev Psychol

2017 Theorists argue that parental reflective functioning (PRF) is activated in response to emotions, potentially supporting parenting sensitivity even when arousal is high. That is, when parents become emotionally reactive when interacting with their children, those who can use PRF to understand their children's mental states should be able to parent sensitively, which, in turn, should promote children's ability to understand their own mental states.

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