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Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D. - Baylor University . Waco, TX, US

Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D. Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Graduate Program Director, Psy.D. program | Baylor University


Research Interests: Neuropsychological functioning and substance abuse treatment






loading image Sara Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University loading image





Dr. Dolan joined the Baylor faculty in 2007, after serving as a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism-funded Postdoctoral Fellow and subsequently a National Cancer Institute-funded faculty member at the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. While at Brown, she also served as a Research Scientist at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as the Assessment Coordinator at Psychological Associates, in Warwick, RI. Prior to that, she earned her B.S. degree in psychology from Indiana University, followed by both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Iowa. She then completed her clinical internship at Yale University, in the Division of Substance Abuse. In her spare time, she can be found serving as an alumnae advisor for her sorority on campus, at a Baylor football or men's basketball game, traveling, or volunteering in the community.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Substance abuse treatment

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Alcohol Abuse


Substance Abuse

Education (4)

University of Iowa: Ph.D., Clinical Psychology 2004

University of Iowa: M.A., Clinical Psychology 1998

Yale University School of Medicine: Clinical Internship, Division of Substance Abuse

Indiana University: B.S., Psychology 1996

Media Appearances (7)

This Year, Try Downsizing Your Resolutions

The New York Times  online


Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, is among the experts interviewed for this article about how to make goals for 2021 that feel both satisfying and doable.

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Alcoholics Anonymous Method Can Mesh Well with Other Treatments for Alcohol Misuse, Baylor University Researcher Says

Baylor Media and Public Relations  online


Most treatment providers for individuals with alcohol use disorders are well versed in either the 12-Step Alcoholics Anonymous program or in a different treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy — but the two approaches can mesh well, according to Baylor University researcher, Sara Dolan. Dolan is an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the doctor of clinical psychology (Psy.D.) graduate program at Baylor University. She said the two approaches have much in common and the work that is done to achieve control is fundamentally cognitive-behavioral in nature.

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Baylor psychology professor helps present research to U.S. Congress

Baylor Lariat  print


Baylor psychology professor Sara Dolan, Ph.D., was among the participants on a National Academies of Sciences panel earlier this year that presented a report to the U.S. Congress about the long-term health effects of anti-malarial drugs.

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‘Drinking Spirits to Lift Spirits’ May Hold Appeal Amid COVID-19 Stress, but Don’t Overdo, Cautions Baylor University Expert on Substance Abuse

Baylor Media and Public Relations  online


Drinking alcoholic beverages may become more appealing amid unease about the coronavirus, as people deal with shelter-at-home orders, fears about the economy and boredom, says a Baylor University researcher Sara Dolan, Ph.D. Dolan, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience provides solutions on how to grapple with the risks of substance use and misuse during this stressful time with this Q&A.

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Communities, Trauma and Resilience

Baylor Research  online


Community. For Sara Dolan, Ph.D., a nationally recognized Baylor professor, researcher and psychologist, it's the place where her research finds its deepest meaning. A community can be literal — a city like West, Texas — or it can be a group bound by similar experiences or stages, like military veterans, children or families. However a community is defined, the people who comprise it will inevitably experience and share in challenges.

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National Academies to study long-term psychiatric effects of antimalarial drugs

WUSA9  online


A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will undertake an 18-month study of the long-term health effects of antimalarial drugs, particularly mefloquine, which was widely used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

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Baylor Connections: Sara Dolan

KWBU-FM (Waco/NPR)  radio


APA “Citizen Psychologist” Sara Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, joins host Derek Smith on Baylor Connections for a conversation about her experiences working with first responders, soldiers and citizens dealing with trauma, and the themes of community, scholarship and resilience.

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Research Focus (1)

Neuropsychological Functioning and Substance Abuse Treatment

Diagnosis and treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

My research examines how neuropsychological dysfunction, including problems with memory and executive functions, is related to etiology of alcohol and substance use disorders and how these issues affect the treatment process and outcome. We study how cognitive functioning (e.g., memory, attention, problem-solving, decision-making) impacts wellbeing in those with addiction and other mental health disorders. We hope to improve addiction treatments so that those who enter treatment are getting the best treatments for their individual cognitive risk factors. We are currently conducting research on the relationship between craving and neuropsychological functioning in a population of non-psychotic substance dependent individuals. Undergraduates, PsyD, and PhD students are welcome to apply to work with us on these and related issues. Veterans are returning from combat zones at higher rates than before with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Substance Use Disorder. We are examining how their cognitive abilities, which may be compromised by these disorders, relate to overall psychological functioning and quality of life to improve diagnosis and treatment. Undergraduates with an interest in this work should consider applying for the VA-CERP internship program (information is here: https://www.baylor.edu/prehealth/index.php?id=93416).

Articles (6)

Treatment of alcohol use disorder: Integration of Alcoholics Anonymous and cognitive behavioral therapy

Training and Education in Professional Psychology

Breuninger, M. M., Grosso, J. A., Hunter, W., & Dolan, S. L.


Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are among the most common psychological disorders experienced by Americans. Only 10% of individuals with this disorder receive treatment, and the most popular treatment is some form of 12-Step involvement. Although there is evidence for the efficacy of 12-Step treatment, most AUD treatment providers are not well versed in 12-Step principles and practices. Recent work suggests that clinicians and training directors do not feel confident in their knowledge about and training in 12-Step programs. This concern is not new, and programs have struggled to find ways to help trainees bridge this knowledge gap in a way that would be beneficial to clients. Therefore, the current article seeks to address this by clarifying common misconceptions about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), describing AA’s conceptualization of alcoholism, and its goal. We also offer a number of ways in which the 12-Steps share principles and skills/techniques with cognitive behavioral therapies for AUD. Finally, we provide training recommendations for closing the training gap through increased trainee exposure to 12-Step programs and interprofessional training opportunities. It is our hope that once AUD treatment providers understand that the 12-Steps are meant to accomplish similar goals using similar techniques to Evidence Based Practices (EBPs) for AUDs, they will be able to provide more integrated, or at least less disparate, treatments to individuals with AUDs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

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Intimate partner cohesion and military unit cohesion: Different types of interpersonal relationships each uniquely predict soldier well-being

Military Psychology

2019 Although research on military populations has found that measures of personal well-being are correlated with both intimate partner cohesion and military unit cohesion, it is not clear how these correlations should be interpreted.

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Using the PAI-A to Classify Juvenile Offenders by Adjudicated Offenses

Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma volume

2019 To improve understanding and treatment of criminal behavior, researchers have developed typologies of juvenile offenders, primarily focusing on personality traits and criminal history to classify according to type of offense committed.

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Association Between Negative Emotional States and Unhealthy Nutritional Behaviors in Soldiers

Military Behavioral Health

2018 The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between food consumption behaviors and measures indicative of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and negative emotional states, including depression, anxiety, and stress.

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Metacognitive Beliefs Predict Greater Mental Contamination Severity After an Evoking Source

Frontiers in Psychology

2018 Mental contamination occurs when individuals experience feelings of internal dirtiness and distress in the absence of physical contact with a contaminant. Women who experience sexual trauma frequently report mental contamination.

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Forgiveness and Its Importance in Substance Use Disorders

Journal of Psychology and Christianity

2017 Enright and Fitzgibbons (2015) developed a specific approach to utilizing forgiveness in therapy; titled Forgiveness Therapy, it is considered an empirical guide for approaching forgiveness work with clients.

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