hero image
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 (8)

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.

view more

What To Do If You Feel Guilty After Setting Boundaries

HuffPost  online


Jessica Borelli, associate professor of psychological science at UC Irvine discusses setting boundaries in relationships.

view more

Covid conversations are harder than ever now—these 3 expert tips can help

CNBC Make It  online


One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not being direct with others about your Covid comfort level, says Jessica Borelli, a psychological science associate professor at UC Irvine.

view more

Parents check a new back-to-school list: mental health and academic help, COVID vigilance

Los Angeles Times  online


“We’re now entering our third year of dealing with this,” said Jessica Borelli, associate professor of psychological science at UC Irvine. “We need to really be thinking about the long-term impact this kind of stress has on our children’s mental health.” … Children across socioeconomic lines will be disparately impacted in the coming months and years, depending on how well they fared during the pandemic, Borelli said. Those with preexisting learning disabilities will have it worse.

view more

When a parent’s mental health struggle affects their kids

The Washington Post  online


Researchers like Jessica Borelli, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine, are trying to decipher exactly what all of this means for parents and children who are carrying the trauma of the past two years. In her work so far, which has included a national survey of parents conducted in the first few months of the pandemic, she has found that parents who reported higher levels of mental health symptoms often had children who were experiencing the same: “The more covid impacted parents’ lives, the more a parent’s mental health was adversely affected,” she says, “which in turn impacted their children’s mental health.”

view more

How To Cope With The Latest School Shooting If You're A Parent

How To Cope With The Latest School Shooting If You're A Parent  online


“Violent tragedies such as this can evoke a mix of feelings of helplessness, horror, rage, anxiety, guilt and regret in parents as they watch an atrocity happen right in front of them and feel powerless to take steps to prevent it from happening in their own community,” said Jessie Borelli, an associate professor in the department of psychological science at University of California, Irvine.

view more

UC Irvine Professor Discusses Mental Health Tips for Working at Home

Orange Coast Magazine  online


Jessica Borelli is the associate professor of psychological science at UC Irvine.

view more

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.”

view more

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.

view more

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.

view more

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.

view more

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.

view more

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.

view more

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.

view more

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.

view more

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.

view more