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Michelle J. Pearce, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

Family & Community Medicine


East Hall, Center for Integrative Medicine 204-B

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-6164



Education and Training

  • Waterloo University, Psychology and English Literature, BA, 2000
  • Yale University, Clinical Psychology, MS and M.Phil, 2003
  • Yale University, Clinical Psychology, PhD, 2007
  • Internship, Duke University Medical Center, Medical Psychology, 2007
  • Post-doctoral Fellowships, Duke University, Cognitive Behavioral Research and Treatment Program;  Duke Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, 2008
  • Licensed to Practice Psychology, Maryland, Active, 2012
  • Board Certification, Institute for Life Coaching, Health and Wellness Coaching, 2013
  • Certified Provider, Quality Rated, Duke University, Cognitive Processing Therapy, 2016


Dr. Michelle Pearce is a clinical psychologist who specializes in behavioral medicine and spirituality, health, and healthcare. She is an established researcher in religion, spirituality, and health and has written over 35 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Pearce is keenly interested in understanding the role religion/spirituality plays in mental and physical health and how to address spirituality in health care. Dr. Pearce and a team of researchers led by Dr. Harold Koenig conducted a multi-site randomized controlled trial of religiously-integrated cognitive behavioral therapy (RCBT) for depression in the medically ill. The study findings revealed that RCBT was equally effective as CBT for treating depression and was more effective among the highly religious. Dr. Pearce developed the RCBT Christian treatment manual, which was the prototype for the other four religious manuals, and trained and supervised the RCBT therapists. She recently published a book based on this research entitled, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Christians with Depression: A Tool-Based Primer.

Dr. Pearce plays an active role in the Graduate School developing and directing programs and teaching courses. She is the program director for three online graduate certificate programs: Aging and Applied Thanatology, Integrative Health and Wellness (begins 2017), and Scientific Communication (begins 2018).

As a clinical health psychologist, Dr. Pearce provides integrative behavioral health consultations and psychotherapy for individuals and couples. Her holistic clinical approach to treatment includes a number of mind-body and psychological methods, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, mind-body stress reduction, behavioral change for healthy lifestyles, mindful eating, spiritually-integrated therapy, and motivational interviewing. 

Research/Clinical Keywords

Psychology, Coping, Religion/Spirituality, Depression, Mind-body medicine, Stress reduction, Integration of spirituality into psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Assessing and addressing spiritual needs in the clinical encounter, Integrative health and healing.

Highlighted Publications

  • Pearce, M.J., Coan, A., Herndon, J.E., Koenig, H.G., & Abernethy, A. (2012). Unmet spiritual care needs impact emotional and spiritual well-being in advanced cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer. 20(10), 2269-2276.
  • Pearce, M.J. (2012) Addressing religion and spirituality in healthcare systems. In K. Pargament   (Ed.-in-Chief), A. Mahoney, & E. Shafranske (Assoc. Eds.), APA Handbooks in Psychology:  APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality: Vol 2. (pp. 527-542). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Pearce, M.J., Koenig, H.G., Robins, C., Nelson, B., Shaw, S., Cohen, H., & King, M. (2014). Religiously-integrated cognitive behavioral therapy: A new method of treatment for major depression in patients with chronic medical illness. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice. Advance online publication.
  • Koenig, H.G., Pearce, M.J., Nelson, B., Shaw, S.F., Robins, C.J., Daher, N., Cohen, H.J., Berk, L.S., Belinger, D., Pargament, K.I., Rosmarin, D.H., Vasegh, S., Kristeller, J., Juthani, N., Nies, D. & King, M.B. (2015). Religious vs. conventional cognitive-behavioral therapy for major depression in persons with chronic medical illness: A pilot randomized trial. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 203(4), 243-251.
  • Koenig, H.G., Boucher, N.A., Youssef, N., Oliver, J.P., Currier, J.M. & Pearce, M.J. (in press). Spiritually-Oriented Cognitive Processing Therapy for Moral Injury in Active Duty Military and Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.
  • Pearce, M.J. (2016). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Christians with Depression: A Practical, Tool-Based Primer. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press.

Clinical Specialty Details

Her holistic approach to treatment includes a number of mind-body and psychological methods, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, mind-body stress reduction (e.g., breath-work, guided imagery, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation), behavioral change for healthy lifestyles, mindful eating, spiritually-integrated therapy, and motivational interviewing. She also leads mind-body skills training, stress management, and writing for wellness groups.

Awards and Affiliations

  • Certificate of Academic Excellence, Canadian Psychological Association, 2000
  • Yale University Graduate Fellowship/Dissertation Award, 2000-2006
  • Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), federal grant for graduate research, 2002-2005
  • Jack Shand research award, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2005
  • Early Career Psychologist Credentialing Scholarship, National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, 2011
  • Interprofessional Education Collaboration Faculty Development Award, University of Maryland, Baltimore, 2015
  • Member, American Psychological Association
  • Faculty Scholar, Duke Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, 2011-present
  • Member, National Register of Health Service Psychologists, 2011-present

Links of Interest