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Jessica Borelli - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

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 (11)

Jessica Borelli, professor of psychological science, co-writes “Nature Meets Nurture: Science-based Strategies for Raising Resilient Kids”

KUCI – Get the Funk Out! with Janeane Bernstein  online


Helping parents improve their parenting skills and strengthen their families is the aim of Jessica Borelli’s book, “Nature Meets Nurture: Science-based Strategies for Raising Resilient Kids.” The book drills down several concepts, reflective functioning, empathy, sensitivity, love and emotion regulation, says Borelli, UCI professor of psychological science.

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‘This should not be ridiculed’: the link between hypochondria and early death

The Guardian  online


When doctors see a patient seeking what appears to be excessive care, they might decide to refer the patient to a therapist. Dr Jessie Borelli, a clinical psychologist and a professor at the University of California, Irvine, says she gets these referrals “frequently”. She’s heard some “horror stories” about that handoff, but she’s also seen doctors approach it with care. “I think the way that they do this best is talking about the stress of having health concerns or health anxiety – how much stress and difficulty that causes, and the need for additional support in managing that,” Borelli says. “People are receptive, usually, to that conversation.”

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Ever Feel So Stressed It Seems Like The World Is Spinning? Why It Happens and 6 Ways To Instantly Feel Calmer

First for Women  online


“You might have experienced a sensation mimicking vertigo as a child after spinning around in circles or going on a rollercoaster,” says Megan Boysen Osborn, MD, [associate] professor of clinical emergency medicine at UC Irvine. … When your stress level climbs, there’s a simple technique that can help bring it back down: “Progressive muscle relaxation,” says Jessie Borelli, PhD, a professor of psychological science and associate director of clinical training at UC Irvine and clinical director of Compass Therapy. “This involves sequentially tightening and releasing different muscle groups of the body,” she explains.

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Understanding anxiety when kids go back to school

KCBS Radio  online


As kids head back to school, so does the anxiety many of them carry into the classroom. To talk about how best to discuss anxiety about going back to school with your student KCBS Radio’s Holly Quan spoke with Jessica Borelli, psychological science professor at UC Irvine. She’s been following the risk for anxiety and depression in youth extensively. “I’d recommend to be on the lookout for signs of anxiety or distress among your kids … But I’d also just recommend opening up a conversation, or multiple conversations, with your kids in a really general way – saying things like, ‘So, how are you feeling about school starting?’” says Borelli.

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7 Fool-Proof Ways To Leave A Great First Impression

Fatherly  online


A good first impression doesn’t require perfection. Actually, a couple scuff marks make one more endearing. “Showing vulnerability makes people relatable,” says Jessica Borelli, licensed psychologist and professor of psychological science at University of California, Irvine. … There are some First Impressions Basics: Make eye contact. Maintain eye contact. Unfold your arms. Be present. Say their name. Adherence to these “shows some intention and that the relationship matters,” says Borelli.

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The Kids Aren’t Alright: The Pandemic’s Lasting Toll On Learning And Mental Health

LAist – AirTalk  online


For a whole generation of kids, the pandemic interrupted everything …. As another in-person school year starts, families and educators are working to untangle academic, mental, and social-emotional challenges brought on by three years of on-and-off quarantine. … Today on the program, we’re joined by … Jessica Borelli, professor of psychological science at UC Irvine and clinical director of Compass Therapy. … “I think, on the whole, children’s mental health – and adolescents’ mental health – was on a downward swing even before the pandemic began. So, the pandemic hit and it kind of pushed the downward swing in a worse direction. But it hasn’t been uniformly negative,” says Borelli. [Starts 18:40]

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A ‘failure to launch’: Why young people are having less sex

Los Angeles Times  online


“A lot of young people when you talk to them will say their best friends are people they’ve never met,” said Jessica Borelli, a professor of psychological science at UC Irvine. “Sometimes they live across the country or in other countries, and yet they have these very intimate relationships with them. … The in-person interface is not nearly as essential for the development of intimacy as it might be for older people.” Ivanna Zuniga, 22, who recently graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in psychological sciences, said her peers have largely delayed sex and romance to focus on education and career.

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How to Make the Most of Your Relationships

Psychology Today  online


Jessica Borelli [UCI professor], Daniela Arcos [UCI assistant clinical research coordinator], Elayne Zhou write, “Savoring is the deliberate practice of focusing on, enjoying, and prolonging the positive emotions associated with an experience. Did you know that you can apply the same technique to your relationships to get added benefits not only for your well-being but also for your relationship quality? For example, how often do you try to stretch out the final seconds of a hug with a loved one before you have to say goodbye? Do you think about the warmth of the hug, maybe their familiar scent, or the sound of their voice long after you’ve parted ways? Savoring important moments of interpersonal connection is called relational savoring. The practice may allow you to harness the full potential of your relationships.”

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Understanding Factor Analysis in Psychology

Verywell Mind  online


The primary goal of factor analysis is to distill a large data set into a working set of connections or factors. Dr. Jessie Borelli, PhD, [associate professor of psychological science] at the University of California, Irvine, uses factor analysis in her work on attachment. She is doing research that looks into how people perceive relationships and how they connect to one another. She gives the example of providing a hypothetical questionnaire with 100 items on it and using factor analysis to drill deeper into the data. "So, rather than looking at each individual item on its own I'd rather say, 'Is there is there any way in which these items kind of cluster together or go together so that I can... create units of analysis that are bigger than the individual items."

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How Does Body Dysmorphia Affect Young Men & Teens? We Discuss Its Causes, Problems & Solutions

LAist - AirTalk  radio


What one sees in the mirror can be emotionally taxing for some, doubly-so for younger generations who are still trying to find answers with what they’re comfortable with. … Today on AirTalk, we discuss the susceptibility of body dysmorphia in younger men with Jason Nagata, assistant professor of pediatrics at UCSF School of Medicine, and Jessica Borelli, [associate] professor of Psychological Science at UC Irvine & author of the book “Nature Meets Nurture: Science-Based Strategies for Raising Resilient Kids.”

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10 ways to boost your mood in 15 minutes or less when you're having an off day and don't want to do anything

Insider  online


"Listening to music can change the way you feel for the better," says Jessica Borelli, [associate] professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine, and clinical director at Compass Therapy. … Borelli suggests choosing tunes that you have a personal connection to — like the soundtrack from one of your favorite movies, or your favorite songs from high school.

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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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